The 1940 Dartmouth v. Cornell featured Cornell with a powerful offense averaging 30 points per game, a perfect 6-0 record and Number 2 ranking in the AP poll is at Hanover, NH, for it’s annual game at Dartmouth, then 3-4. The Big Red hadn’t lost a game in nearly three seasons (18-0). But for almost four quarters, the spirited Indians, coached by the legendary Earl “Red” Blaik, bottled up the mighty Cornell offense. Late in the game Dartmouth holds onto a precarious 3-0 lead when Cornell’s offensive juggernaut awakens. Cornell with a first and goal at the 6-yard line with less than a minute remaining on the clock ran five plays scoring on the last.
The consensus view in the press box was that Cornell had used five downs to score. That was transmitted to the referee after the game. Both schools filmed the contest, so the next evening referee Red Friesell watched the final sequence of plays and spotted his error. He then contacted Asa Bushnell the commissioner of the Central Office for Eastern Intercollegiate Athletics who was a stickler for rules. Bushnell advised Friesell that since the game was already entered into the official record books, the final score would stand. When the news of the error reached Cornell president Edmund E. Day, athletic director Jim Lynah and coach Carl Snavely concluded that the honorable thing to do was to forfeit the game.
The action was unprecdented in intercollegiate football history. The gesture would be remembered and honored across the decades. This is considered one of the most memorable games of all-time ranking just below the November 10, 1928 Notre Dame vs. Army ” Win one for the Gipper” game.