During the decade of the 1890's American football surging in popularity but there was little organization among the groups who participated. Colleges and communities alike were starting up their own football clubs. While colleges often squared off in regional rivalries they also filled up their fall playing clubs from their local areas.
It was in this environment that UB football was born.
In early November of 1894 a collection of medical students came together and started a club football team.
The Syracuse NY Daily Standard recounts a meeting held at Browns Riding academy on November 9th, 1894. It was at this meeting that the Buffalo University football team was officially founded. The man behind the meeting was a Syracuse Grad names Frank Leroy Purdy. As an under graduate Purdy was a captain in the Syracuse Athletics football team.
According to the Buffalo's athletic department the 14 students who made the cut had to purchase their own equipment and practiced on their own time after classes. They practiced at Brown’s Riding Academy on East North Street and John’s Riding Academy on East Utica but their first game was played at Olympic Park.
The UB Athletics department list the founding Bulls as A. B. Stein J.B. Crofts, Irving Johnson, William Potter, Gray McCuthcheon, St. John Green and "Dinky" Johnson. Players who were mentioned by the Syracuse papers were S. Smith, J. Purdy, Meadows, Clagras, Downer, Mooney, Romer, F. Purdy, Chamberlain, McCrea, Parker, Glenny, W. Smith, Coulter, Volkes, Pilkey, Brinkworth, Sloan, Dlehl, Graves, and Comfort.
The Buffalo Currier notes that FR Purdy was names the captain of the fledgling team. The first Manager of U.B. Football was W.E. Robertson. Graves also served as a captain at points in the season.
Buffalo Takes on Lancaster
|UB TD: Graves, Missed TG||4||0|
|Lanc TD: Lanc, Successful TG||4||6|
|UB TD: F. Purdy, Graves Kick||10||6|
|UB TD: Coulter, Missed TG||14||6|
|Lanc TD: Lanc, Successful TG||14||12|
|UB TD: F Purdy, Missed TG||18||12|
|Lanc TD: Lanc, Missed TG||18||16|
Their first game was the following week, at home, against The Lancaster football club.
The Bulls won a close fought game with Lancaster by spreading around the scoring. Graves, Purdy, and Coulter all scored a touchdown.
Missing two "try goals" nearly cost UB the game as it was four points left on the field. The try goals were much more difficult than the extra points of today, as such they gave teams two points instead of one and if successful gave possession of the ball back to the scoring team.
A player from the scoring team would bring the ball across the line on to the field of play holding it in his arms.
The "try at goal" could be attempted from any distance the kicker desires. The defenders must stay behind their goal line until the ball is placed on the ground or until the ball is kicked (if a drop-kick is attempted). Once that occurs the defenders can charge the place kick .
Graves successful try goal in the first half was the difference and UB football was off the ground at 1-0.
Buffalo takes on Hobart:
|Hob TD: Hob, Missed TG||0||4|
|UB TD: UB, Graves TG||6||4|
|Hob TD: Hob, Successful TG||6||12|
After hosting Lancaster the Bulls had their first intercollegiate match up, a home Thanksgiving day game against Hobart.
Hobart had already established a healthy football program and were physically much bigger than the Bulls on the line, something that ended up costing the Bulls the game.
Still a new program holding their own against a strong program like Hobart, even leading well into the second half, was a statement.
The Buffalo express lauded UB's showing.
"The Buffalo team deserves great credit for the showing it made, and its probable that next year the work will be better".
After their first loss UB traveled to Rochester to take on Rochester University. Their game, a 0-0 tie, did not make the Buffalo papers but is recorded by the university.
So UB wrapped up their first season of play, that we know of, with a near 1-1-1 record.
1894 Roster - Compiled from News Accounts of the Hobart and Lancaster games:
|J. Purdy||End / QB|
|F. Purdy||Tackle / HB|
* The news print I have is too degraded to even guess at some names. I have done the best I can taking the players who attended the meetings and matched them to the start charts published in the papers of the day.