Saturday’s Division-III college football game between Hampden-Sydney College and Guilford College was played in only one direction. Both teams, while on offense, tried to score on the same end zone.
It was not supposed to be that way, but a tractor crash made it so.
Hampden-Sydney, a private men’s liberal arts college in Virginia with a student population of less than 1,000, was founded in 1775. It is the oldest privately-chartered college in the south, the tenth-oldest college in the United States, and the last college founded before the Declaration of Independence.
The Tigers hosted the Quakers for homecoming on Saturday and campus was buzzing.
After the pregame festivities, fans made their way over to Lewis C. Everett Stadium and packed the field for the main event. However, they were met by an unusual scene.
Only one of the field goals was standing. The upright on the left side of the field was not up.
Prior to kickoff, the grounds crew had an accident. A tractor that appeared to be cutting the grass lost control, took a beeline right for the goalpost, and made direct contact.
The upright completely fell apart.
It either occurred on the day prior to the game or the morning of, because both goalposts were in tact on Thursday evening.
There was not enough time to replace the goalpost before Saturday.
Due to the missing upright, Hampden-Sydney and Guilford played the entire football game in one single direction.
Pick-sixes, scoop-and-scores, and kick returns could be scored in the far end zone without the upright. Everything else — all offensive drives — went the same way. All offensive touchdowns were scored in the end zone with the functional upright.
For example, let’s say that Guilford punted the ball from the 47-yard-line on the side without the goalpost. Hampden-Sydney could return the punt back toward the upright-less end zone, but as soon as the ball-carrier was tackled, the field was flipped.
So let’s say the Tigers returned the punt to the 35-yard-line in front of the end zone with a goalpost on the right half of the field. Once the play was blown dead, the game was paused to turn things around.
Rather than starting its drive on the right side of the field and trying to score in the empty end zone, Hampden-Sydney would start its drive at the 35-yard-line on the left side of field and try to score at the end zone with a proper upright.
It was not the first time that this had happened. The same rules were in place for Northwestern’s game against Illinois at Wrigley Field in 2010. They were also implemented for Jacksonville State’s game against North Alabama at a minor league baseball stadium earlier this fall.
While the unusual configuration is not ideal, it isn’t that big of a deal. And in Virginia on Saturday, there was no choice. The tractor crash forced the issue.