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1895 Buffalo Football

by Scott Hollander
University at Buffalo Libraries

Gridiron Glimpses

After playing a few football games at the club level in 1894, the University of Buffalo started to embrace intercollegiate sports in 1895.  In March, the U. B. Athletics Association met and recognized that the University had the potential for a competitive football team for the coming season. (see “U.B.A.A.” Buffalo Express, 17 March 1895) Case in point was one William J. Bott.  Mr. Bott was a star football player from Hobart College and he was entering the U.B. medical school in the fall.  Perhaps the time was right for the University to enter the college football ranks in earnest.

Later that year in early October, the students of the University of Buffalo also formed an athletic association.  The members would practice football at Olympic Park in Buffalo.  Although the University had never before paid any attention to athletics because the hours of lectures precluded it, the athletics association persuade faculty to give the students one afternoon a week off for “exercise”.

Being relatively new to the game, U.B. struggled immensely during the first half of the football season.  The Buffalo Express described the team as such: “The students were green at the game. Some of them have never even seen a football match. Some of them didn’t know whether a football was filled with wind or gunpowder.”  The team lost to the University of Rochester 12 – 4 and was hammered by the Lancaster Football Club twice 40 – 6 and 30 – 0.  Buffalo finally found some success late in the season.  A 12 – 6 victory over the 25th Separate Company Athletic Association from North Tonawanda, NY bolstered their enthusiasm.  The final game of the year was a rematch with the University of Rochester in Rochester.  The game would be a hotly contested affair.

According to newspaper accounts, the November 23, 1895 Buffalo/Rochester rematch on the Rochester campus was played on a muddy field and in a steady rain.  The was no love lost between the two teams and there was “more or less slugging” from the start.  There were two referees for the game: one from Buffalo who worked the first half and one from Rochester who did the second half.  Both seemed to favor their own.  The U.B. men left town claiming a 6 – 0 victory but officially the game was declared a 6 – 6 tie.  The game was the start of an intense rivalry. (see “Ended in a Wrangle” Buffalo Express, 24 November 1895)

Although a “year in review” article in the Buffalo Express about Buffalo football teams has U.B.’s record at three games lost, two ties and two games won, I’m not sure it’s totally accurate.  (see “Local Kickers” Buffalo Express, 9 January 1896) The 1895 season schedule, pulled from local newspaper records, is below.  One thing is for certain: the experience of the 1895 season would pay dividends in future U.B. football campaigns.

1895 Buffalo Football Season

Date Home Team Score Visiting Team W-L-T Location
10/23/18951 Buffalo 4 – 6 Rochester L Buffalo, NY
10/26/18952 Buffalo 6 – 40 Lancaster, NY F.C. L Buffalo, NY
10/30/18953 Buffalo 0 – 2 Buffalo High School L Buffalo, NY
11/5/18954 Batavia A.A. No Game Buffalo Batavia, NY
11/9/18955 Buffalo Postponed 25th Separate Company A.A. (North Tonawanda, NY) Buffalo, NY
11/13/18956 Buffalo 6 – 6 Buffalo High School T Buffalo, NY
11/16/18957 Buffalo 0 – 30 Lancaster, NY F.C. L Buffalo, NY
11/20/18958 Buffalo 12 – 6 25th Separate Company A.A. (North Tonawanda, NY) W Buffalo, NY
11/23/18959 Rochester 6 – 6 Buffalo T Rochester, NY


Home: Olympic Park, East Ferry & Michigan Avenue
Total Points: Visiting Clubs: 102
Total Points: University of Buffalo: 34

  • Ended in a RowBuffalo News, Buffalo, NY, 24 October 1895.
  • Downed Once More Buffalo Express, Buffalo, NY, 27 October 1895.
  • U. of B. Gaining Strength Buffalo News, Buffalo, NY, 31 October 1895.
  • No Game at Batavia Buffalo Express, Buffalo, NY, 6 November 1895.
  • To Wet for a GameBuffalo Express, Buffalo, NY, 10 November 1895.
  • Played A TieBuffalo Express, Buffalo, NY, 14 November 1895.
  • Lancaster AgainBuffalo Express, Buffalo, NY, 17 November 1895.
  • Cold Day-Hot GameBuffalo Express, Buffalo, NY, 21 November 1895.
  • Ended in a WrangleBuffalo Express, Buffalo, NY, 24 November 1895.

    U of B A AU. OF B. A. A.


    A meeting of the University of Buffalo Athletics Association was held yesterday at the university for the purpose of electing officers and the discussion of other business for the ensuing year. U. B. Stein was elected president and Guy L. McCutcheon secretary.

    The Association has for one of its objects the securing, in the near future, of a gymnasium in connection with the University. The university has some excellent material for the making of a winning football team, there being many old college and experienced players among its members, and it is now expected that the candidates for the 1895-1896 team will be able to have good hard practice under some competent coaches before the beginning of the coming college year.

    The football section is a comparatively new project with the University, but the interest and enthusiasm with which it is accepted is quite assuring of its success. It is desired that all students intending to enter the University this coming season, and wishing to be candidates for positions upon the varsity team, should kindly inform the secretary or president in order to arrange for practicing in the early fall.

    Buffalo Express, March 17, 1895


    Buffalo University Practically Won By A Score of 6 To 0 But Rochester Claims A Tie Game

    Rochester, Nov. 23.—There was the usual wrangle at the end of the football game between the teams of the University of Rochester and the University of Buffalo played on the campus this afternoon. Buffalo undoubtedly had the right end of this argument, but if you are a partisan of the U. of R. you can match pennies with yourself to decide whether the local eleven was beaten or whether the game was a tie. Referee Maaser said after the storm that he “supposed the game had better be called tie,” but the Buffalo men left town last night claiming the victory, and not many of the impartial critics who watched the game were disposed to dispute their claim.

    Neither side scored in the first half although the ball was practically on each goal-line once. There is no doubt that Buffalo just failed to get the oval over the Rochester line, but there is room for doubt as to whether Rochester didn’t carry the ball over the line at the other end of the field. In this dispute, in fact, the Rochester men undoubtedly were in the right, for the ball had been carried past the line of goal post when it was taken from Rochester and given to Buffalo on a forward pass. Lyon of Buffalo was the referee in the first half, and it was his decision that deprived the Rochester eleven of the points that they undoubtedly had scored. It was in the second half that the real fight occurred. Buffalo scored a touchdown early in the half through a magnificent run by Johnson. The ball was in Buffalo’s territory when Johnson dashed around the right end and carried it more than half the length of the field for the touchdown. Bott kicked the goal and the score stood 6 to 0 in Buffalo’s favor. Buffalo played a much stronger game in the second half than in the first half. Rochester could make little headway in line-bucking in the second half, while in the first half the ball had been carried the length of the field by repeated short gains through the line.

    Neither side was able to make much progress after Buffalo had scored that touchdown, until Coventry of Rochester got around the right end for a gain of about 80 yards. That gain carried the ball to within a short distance of Buffalo’s goal line. Here, however, it was given to Buffalo for off-side play and the two teams made a desperate stand. Neither could make a gain that wasn’t quickly recovered.

    It was dark at this time and Buffalo’s linesmen cried that the time was up. The Buffalo players prepared to quit the field when Baird of the Rochester team dashed across the line and a claim for a touchdown was set up. The Rochester linesmen declared that time wasn’t up, and while the argument was in progress, Smith of Rochester kicked a goal. Allowing that touchdown and goal to Rochester, the score was a tie and Referee Masser said he guessed it would have to be called a tie. The game was played on a muddy field and in a steady rain. There was more or less slugging from the start.

    Buffalo Express, November 24, 1895




    The University of Buffalo football team figured conspicuously in the intercollegiate struggle for the supremacy of Western New York, and although they were beaten very badly by the Lancasters early in the season, they pulled out with a record of three games lost, two ties and two games won. It was, to say the least, a very satisfactory record for a team whose experience was limited to one year. The students were green at the game. Some of them have never even seen a football match. Some of them didn’t know whether a football was filled with wind or gunpowder. It was the college game, however, and they decided to enter the lists. Their first match opened their football eyes. They lacked a knowledge of the game, and most of all, they lacked practice. No time had been allowed them to which to practice without missing lectures and this a majority of the players were unwilling to do. Hence their memorable defeat by the Lancasters 40-6. Next year the students believe the faculty of the university will arrange matters so as to enable those trying for the team to make up unattended lectures. It is probable, also, that a capable coach will be secured to start the candidates at practice and guide them through the entire season.

    There is some excellent material in the U. of B. Capt. Bott, who learned the game at Hobart College, was one of the mainstays of the team this year, and will be one of next year’s eleven. Woolston, center, is very strong and
    promises to develop into an excellent player in that position. Donohue, St. John, McCutcheon, Hoover, Croff and Brendel will be the probable candidates for a formidable line; and Stein’s play at right end this season stamps him as one of the most promising of the 1896 candidates. Allen at left end has played football several seasons and is expected to be one of next year’s team. Of the half backs Johnson at right half plays a strong, fast game, and Farr, Layborn and Kehle, whose work was very satisfactory in the season just closed, will be found in their old places. Ayres, Cowper and Boswell will be strong players with practice; and there are several students In the Law department who have intimated their willingness to play next season, of whom much is expected.

    Two games were played the last season with Lancaster, both of which Varsity lost. Two games were played with the Buffalo High School – a lose and a tie. Two games played with Rochester resulted in a tie and a gain, and a game with the Tonawanda military was a victory, the Varsity team winning by a score of 12 to 6. It was a very good beginning and there is enough ambition of learning on High Street to carry next years team of Intercollegiate kickers, well up to the top.

    Buffalo Express, January 9, 1896