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1918 Buffalo Football

by Scott Hollander
University at Buffalo Libraries

Team photoWorld War & Influenza

The 1918 college football season was nearly wiped out. In the early fall, the country was still involved in the First World War. Several universities had already canceled their athletics programs for the duration of the war due to a lack of men. Although scheduling games was extremely difficult, Buffalo continued on.  But to make matters even worse that year, a nationwide influenza epidemic hit Western New York hard causing further travel restrictions. Needless to say, the University of Buffalo and Western New York faced unusual difficulties.

Student Army Training Corps

In the spring of 1918, the U.S. War Department initiated a nationwide program called the Student Army Training Corps (S.A.T.C.). The program sought to train students for the front lines while simultaneously maintaining the college’s commitment to higher education. Schools across the nation participated to support the war effort and their own schools. Locally, both Canisius College and the University of Buffalo participated in the S.A.T.C. effort. Athletics and football were a part of the training which is why you see several schools with odd names such as the University of Rochester S.A.T.C. or Cornell S.A.T.C. on 1918 football schedules. In 1918, Cornell University did not have an official football team. But it support three separate teams: a S.A.T.C., and two Aero clubs.

Scheduling Difficulties

In January 1918, it was announced that Syracuse University would play the University of Buffalo in football for the first time since 1899. Unfortunately, the game was quickly cancelled long before football season started.

The season opener against Thiel College on October 12th was cancelled because the Thiel team was not allowed to travel overnight to Buffalo. A game against a team of workers at the Curtiss Aeroplane Motor Corporation took its place. (The company employed 18,000 people at their 31-acre Elmwood Avenue factory in Buffalo.)

The following week, Buffalo had a game scheduled with Hobart College. But Hobart also had to postpone; again because of war department travel restrictions and regulations. Buffalo then scheduled a game with the semi-pro “Jeffersons” club from Rochester, N.Y. but the Health Department stopped that game due to “Hun flu” epidemic concerns. Finally, a team representing the U. S. Naval Artificers Training Camp of Buffalo agreed to play U.B.  During the war years, U.S. Naval “artificers” were stationed  in an apartment building at Chenango Street and Massachusetts Avenue in the city of Buffalo. (An artificer is a member of an armed-forces service who is skilled in making devices as needed in the field.) The two teams played twice in 1918 with Buffalo easily winning both games.

Historic Score

In mid-November, the travel ban was lifted and Hobart College was finally able to make the trip to Buffalo.  Although perhaps they should have stayed home. U.B clobbered their old rivals scoring eighty-one (81!) points to Hobart’s zero.  The 81 points still stands as the most ever scored by a U.B. football team in one game. (see “U. of B. Overwhelmed Luckless Hobart ElevenBuffalo Evening News, 18 November 1918)

The last game of the season was Buffalo’s first away game. Held on a windy Thanksgiving Day in Ithaca, N.Y., Buffalo played an All-Cornell team made up of the best players from their three war program clubs. This formidable all-Cornell outfit easily defeated the University of Buffalo eleven 28 to 0. (see “U. of B. Defeated by Heavy All-Cornell TeamBuffalo Evening News, 29 November 1918)

But the season was a success.  And perhaps in some way a welcomed distraction from the horrible realities of war and the influenza epidemic.

1918 Buffalo Football Season

Date Opponent Score W-L-T Location
10/12/19181 Curtiss Aeroplane Motor Company 6 – 0 W Buffalo, NY
10/19/19182 U. S. Naval Artificers of Buffalo 40 – 0 W Buffalo, NY
11/2/19183 Niagara 41 – 0 W Buffalo, NY
11/9/19184 Rochester 19 – 6 W Buffalo, NY
11/16/19185 Hobart College 81 – 0 W Buffalo, NY
11/23/19186 U. S. Naval Artificers of Buffalo 47 – 6 W Buffalo, NY
11/28/19187 @ All-Cornell 28 – 0 L Ithaca, NY

Coach: Arthur Powell

  1. U. of B. Won Its First of SeasonBuffalo Express, Buffalo, NY, 13 October 1918.
  2. U. of B. Too StrongBuffalo Express, Buffalo, NY, 20 October 1918.
  3. U. of B Found Niagara Football Eleven EasyBuffalo News, Buffalo, NY, 4 November 1918.
  4. University of Rochester S.A.T.C. Football Eleven Beaten By Buffalo TeamRochester Democrat & Chronicle, Rochester, NY, 10 Nov 1918.
  5. U. of B. Overwhelmed Luckless Hobart ElevenBuffalo News, Buffalo, NY, 18 November 1918.
  6. U. of B. in VictoryBuffalo Express, Buffalo, NY, 24 November 1918.
  7. U. of B. Defeated by Heavy All-Cornell TeamBuffalo News, Buffalo, NY, 29 November 1918.

Newspaper clipping: U of B overshwelmed luckless Hobart eleven


The University of Buffalo football team not only smote old Hip Hobart on the hip and on the thigh Saturday but gave the Geneva team probably the worst all around licking in the long history of that institution. The score was 81 to 0. The down staters were  not  quick  enough to stop the flash plays of Coach Powell’s men, and had no chance to assume the offensive themselves.   Forward passes phased the Genevans, as well as the quick shifts carried out by the Blue and White. Usually, Hobart has been a pretty hard nut for the Bison eleven to crack, and this year the Hobart team seemed husky enough, but had nothing in particular to offer, except such defense as they were able to put up.

Kibler, McCullom, Nolan, Bleich, Captain Wolf and all the others were in the fray every Instant. The game was played on the Lafayette field before a crowd of some 1500. The summary :

Touchdowns—U. of B., Nolan 2. McCullom 4. Wolf 2, Bleisch 2, J. McNally 2.
Goals kicked from touchdowns—McCullom 9.
Goals from field—Kibler 2.
Goals missed from touchdowns—McCullom 2.

Buffalo Evening News, November 18, 1918

U of B defeated by heavy all-Cornell teamU. OF B. DEFEATED BY HEAVY ALL-CORNELL TEAM

Coach Sharpe Took Cream of
S.A.T.C., and Aero Teams
to Win 28 to 0 at Ithaca.

ITHACA. Nov. 29 — Coach Sharper picked the best football players from both the S. A. T. C. and the Aero teams of Cornell yesterday, and with this formidable all-Cornell outfit, the Ithacans defeat the University of Buffalo eleven 28 to 0. The Cornellians were much the heavier, but the team from upstate kept the big fellows on the jump and the Cornell goal line was several times in danger. A fierce gale swept the field or Buffalo would have secured two goals from the field. In the final quarter Buffalo worked the ball down to Cornell’s 15-yard line, when a forward pass grounded and Cornell got the ball and kicked it our of danger. The Buffalo boys never gave up the fight but were not heavy enough in the muddy going.


Buffalo Evening News, November 29, 1918