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How 11 Men of Iron Flattened Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth
John Hanlon
October 07, 1968
Brown's coach hadn't planned it that way, but once his starting team got rolling it seemed silly to bother with substitutes
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October 07, 1968

How 11 Men Of Iron Flattened Harvard, Yale And Dartmouth

Brown's coach hadn't planned it that way, but once his starting team got rolling it seemed silly to bother with substitutes

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On Saturday morning the Bruins entrained for New Haven, and the lineup began to fall in place. Farber and Randall were declared fit. Some sympathetic interns had seen to it that Smith got a night's uninterrupted sleep. And Hodge, riding an overnight sleeper from Baltimore, arrived at New Haven in time to accompany his teammates on a pregame stroll to Yale Bowl. Brown teams had a reputation for being awed by the massiveness of the Bowl and, as Hodge remembers, McLaughry took them around for a look and pointed out it was "just another hunk of concrete."

Yale was rated as the East's best team going into the game, or, as a reporter of the day put it, "high above all else in the Eastern football realm stand the Bulldogs of Eli Yale, a band of giant killers." (They don't write 'em like they used to, either.) But Tuss's men confounded the experts right off as Brown scored a touchdown in the first period, after which Dave Mishel drop-kicked the extra point. In the habit of the time McLaughry elected to "sit" on his lead, and as he did so the Iron Men came into being—quite by chance.

"It wasn't until the third quarter that I realized no substitutions had been made," Tuss says. He remembers thinking then, "No one has been injured, the team is hot, winning and apparently fresh. Why break up a winning combination?" It never occurred to him until after the game that he had caused a sensation.

Tuss still had no idea of fostering a legend as he got the team ready to play Dartmouth. "But," he recalls now, "by that time the 11 men had become an entity. Nearly every one of them had been 'threatened' by the other 10 as to what would happen if they got hurt and all of them were anxious to continue their record. Naturally, I cooperated."

So did the press.

"We were deluged by out-of-town writers," Tuss remembers, and preparations for Dartmouth were complicated by their presence. Still, the attention fostered unseen benefits. "It created a high spirit and morale on the team," Tuss said. "The boys became very cocky and talky and made themselves believe they were the best."

All kinds of stories began to come out about just how cocky this team was. Against Yale, it was said, Smith and Hodge had verbally badgered the All-America guard, Bubble Sturhahn, to the point that he became furious—and hence less effective.

The game at Dartmouth attracted a crowd of 13,000, which was vast for Hanover, N.H., and extra policemen were called in from all parts of the state to handle the traffic. At the start Dartmouth quickly advanced to the Brown 10-yard line. At that point Brown called time out, and Ed Kevorkian, the sophomore guard, was heard to exclaim: "That's as far as the bastards go!" And it was. In the second quarter Randall scored on a pass from Mishel, who drop-kicked the point after. In the fourth quarter Mishel kicked a 30-yard field goal, and again the Iron Men went the whole way alone and won 10-0.

Now they were football's reigning heroes, and their return to Providence was celebrated by a torchlight parade through town and a bonfire and speeches on the campus. Brown's president gave an address, in the course of which he conferred make-believe "honorary" degrees on each player.

After that the Bruins were "overwhelmed," as McLaughry put it, by photographers and writers, "but we stuck to our business" of getting ready for the next major opponent, Harvard. In between there was an unimpressive victory over a minor team, Norwich, in which Tuss did not start the Iron Men. Then it was on to Cambridge, Mass.

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