The winner of the 1922 Brawl of the Wild game depends on who you ask. The hard-fought contest came down to one final play, that according to the Bobcats shouldn't have happened…
On Veteran's Day 1922, the Montana State College Bobcats traveled to Dornblaser Field in Missoula to take on the Montana Grizzlies in what was the teams' 26th matchup since they began competing in 1897. Bobcats led by senior quarterback and captain Ray McCarren, hoped to earn their first outright victory against the Griz in 17 games.
The Cats led the entire game after a touchdown score in the first quarter. The rest of the game was a combination of turnovers, punts and turnovers on downs for each team, until the infamous "final play."
On third down and goal from the three Montana was able to cross the goal line to score a touchdown followed by a successful PAT resulting in a 7-6 Grizzly victory, or so they thought.
The game had two timekeepers, one from each team. According to MSC's timekeeper the play was started a WHOLE 30 seconds too late, but Montana's timekeeper argued that there was still five seconds left in the game. The referees decided to count the Griz touchdown as the final gun was not fired before the score.
On the following Monday, two days after the contest, Montana State called a morning assembly to discuss what happened. Head Coach Ott Romney, clearly frustrated with the decision, and rightfully so, spoke to the crowd, stating, "Montana State College, I construe your cheers for me to be for the team that in 60 minutes and the eyes of God we won the state championship." He explained the game to all in attendance, including the time debacle, ending his speech with,"These are the facts, draw your own conclusions." His and McCarren's adresses were met with roars from the audience.
MSC's Dean Hamilten also spoke, described as having fire and enthusiasm in his words. In an all-time football guy quote, he said, "I would rather take hell than given the choice of that and football."
Even the President of Montana State College, Alfred Atkinson, disagreed with the touchdown ruling. He sent an official statement to the Exponent, Montana State's college newspaper, declaring that the decision be appealed due to the time discrepancy and the fact that people were on the field during the last play, which was the University of Montana's job to police since they hosted the contest.
In the following days the Exponent was filled with stories about the game results, all declaring that the Cats had won, using a question mark to denote the Grizzlies' score. One of my favorite lines reads, "Ever showing an indomitable fighting spirit, Mac [McCarren] led his teammates to the greatest victory ever made by a Bobcat team against the Soda Squirts."
Although the Griz were declared winners, nobody will truly know who won the 1922 Brawl.
Note: Again, special thanks to the Exponent for providing detailed coverage of the event in their archives.