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The Indians scattered, each player hugging his stomach as if he held the ball. The Harvard players bore down on them and began slamming Carlisle backs to the turf. Marshall was playing safety, and as Dillon ran toward him, his arms swinging freely, Marshall, thinking he was a blocker, stepped neatly out of the way and let him go by. After 30 yards Dillon was alone. As the Crimson scuttled around, wildly looking for the ball, the crowd of 12,000 noticed the bulge in the back of Dillon's jersey and began to shriek with laughter. Finally Marshall understood what was happening. He wheeled and chased vainly after Dillon for the last several yards.
A celebration erupted on the Carlisle sideline. The Indians had just outwitted and embarrassed the foremost university in the country—Carlisle style—and taken an 11-0 lead. "I don't think any one thing ever gave them greater joy," Warner said later.
The Crimson was incensed, and the game from then on was a mauling. Harvard's superior size and depth began to tell. The Crimson flooded the field with fresh players who exhausted the Indians' starters. Harvard bulled its way over the line for a touchdown. To Warner it seemed that "every Indian was out on his feet." Harvard scored again and held on for a 12-11 victory. "For once, however, there was no mourning after a loss," Warner remembered.
For the first time the Indians were credited with intelligence. The New York World ran a series of stories explaining and diagramming the play. The paper's leading sportswriter, Charles Chadwick, a former Yale football star who had often written patronizingly of the Indians, now wrote, "The poor Indian, so often sized up as deficient in headwork, has at last earned the right to be considered as something more than a tireless, clumsy piece of football mechanism. He is now to be regarded as a person of craft. He has added his quota to the history of strategic football."
IN LATE DECEMBER 1905 representatives of 28 major colleges met and formed the National Intercollegiate Football Conference. They charged a seven-member rules committee with developing a safer, cleaner sport. Over heated objections from Camp they instituted a half-dozen rule changes. Mass-momentum plays were forbidden. Teams now had to move 10 yards for a first down instead of five, which took the emphasis off pure strength in the center of the field. Most innovative of all, the forward pass was legalized, though with an inhibitor: A team that threw the ball and failed to complete the pass would be penalized 15 yards.
By 1907 the Indians had become the country's most dynamic college team as they pioneered the elegant, high-speed invention called the passing game. In popular histories the first use of the forward pass on a major collegiate stage tends to be wrongly ascribed to Notre Dame and the tandem of Gus Dorais and Knute Rockne, in 1913. In fact Carlisle was the first team to throw the ball deeply and regularly downfield, in 1907.
The Carlisle squad that gathered on the practice field in September 1907 was the school's most talented ever. The quarterback was Frank Mount Pleasant, a 19-year-old Tuscarora-Iroquois chief's son from just outside Niagara Falls. He wasn't the only member of the team who could throw the ball. So could Pete Hauser, a burly 21-year-old Cheyenne from Oklahoma, who lined up at fullback.
To take advantage of the Indians' versatility Warner drew up a new offense. Camp would dub it the Carlisle formation, but later it would be known as the single wing. It was predicated on one small move: Warner shifted a halfback out wide, to outflank the opposing tackle, forming something that looked like a wing. It opened up a world of possibilities. No one would know whether they were going to run, pass or kick. For added measure Warner taught his quarterbacks to sprint out a few yards to their left or their right, buying more time to throw. The rest of the players flooded downfield and knocked down any opponent who might be able to intercept or bat away the pass.
"How the Indians did take to it!" Warner remembered. "Light on their feet as professional dancers, and every one amazingly skillful with his hands, the redskins pirouetted in and out until the receiver was well down the field, and then they shot the ball like a bullet." Carlisle roared off to a 6-0 start. On Oct. 26 they went to Philadelphia to face unbeaten Penn, ranked fourth in the nation, before a crowd of 22,800. No team all season had crossed the Quakers' goal line. But on just the second play of the game Hauser whipped a 40-yard pass over the middle that William Gardner caught on a dead run to set up a touchdown.
There are a few signal moments in the evolution of football, and this was one of them. Imagine the confusion of the defenders. Suddenly the center snapped the ball three yards deep to a man who was a powerful runner, a deadeye passer and a great kicker. Hauser's pass to Gardner must have felt like an electric charge. "It will be talked of often this year," the Philadelphia North American said. "A lordly throw, a hurl that went farther than many a kick." It was the sporting equivalent of the Wright brothers' taking off at Kitty Hawk. From that moment on, Carlisle threw all over the field.