November 28, 1891: WVU Plays its First Football Game

Nov 28, 2017

Early football equipment
Credit West Virginia Department of Culture and History

On November 28, 1891, West Virginia University played its first football game ever. The contest didn’t go as hoped. About 250 fans showed up at a field south of Morgantown to watch Washington and Jefferson shut out WVU 72 to 0.

While the outcome was disappointing, it was an accomplishment just getting a team together. To raise funds for uniforms, WVU’s players first had to stage a production of Shakespeare’s Richard III. Then, they needed a coach. The newly formed WVU Athletic Association learned that a mechanical engineering professor had once played at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Cornell University. That’s how Professor F. L. Emory became WVU’s first football coach. The team’s quarterback was the colorfully named Gory Hogg, who would go on to become a prominent doctor in the southern coalfields and serve in the West Virginia Legislature.

After that initial loss, WVU didn’t field a team again for two years. Its teams gradually got more competitive. Although, Washington and Jefferson still had their number, shutting them out seven more times. Finally, in 1903, WVU broke through and beat Washington and Jefferson for the first time.