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Just For Grins: Civil War Sports Analogies: Football

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#1 tarheelg61581


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Posted 13 December 2016 - 03:56 PM

As a history teacher and sports fanatic, I will frequently use analogies from sports to describe situations in battle from various wars covered in the high school curriculum....I finally decided to sit down and not merely correlate one part of one battle with something from the sports but the entire Civil War.....(baseball, basketball, and more coming soon by the way)


1st Quarter key plays

-North has the ball first, runs a reverse on the first play for what initially appeared to be a sure touchdown but defensive captain Stonewall Jackson stayed at home, not falling for the misdirection, who not only made the tackle for a loss, but forced a fumble, and recovered it, setting up an early FG for the South (First Bull Run) (South leads 3-0)

-The combination of Ulysses S. Grant & David Farragut highlight a scoring drive full of many explosive plays for first downs (Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, New Orleans), culminated with a TD for the North (Shiloh) (North leads 7-3)

-South's defense forces another turnover that sets up another successful FG (Peninsula campaign) (North leads 7-6)

-South's defense strikes again, scoring a TD on a turnover and getting 2 point conversion after a bad snap on the extra point turned into a successful run by the holder (Second Bull Run) (South leads 14-7)

-End of 1st Qtr South leads 14-7, South has the momentum, as head coach Robert E. Lee's strategy seems unbeatable at the moment


-2nd Quarter key plays

-South decides to get aggressive on offense and disaster strikes, deep pass intercepted and returned for a TD (Antietam) (tied 14-14 but North has momentum), first mistakes made by the players coached by Robert E. Lee, including one of the receivers accidentally tipping off the defense that this play was going to be an aggressive pass play, attempting to throw a deep ball

-North decides to get aggressive again, plays right into the hands of South head coach Robert E. Lee's defensive strategy, results in another turnover, setting up a South TD (Fredericksburg) (South leads 21-14)

-Late in 2nd Quarter, North decides to stay aggressive, but with questionable (at best) play calling and clock management, running a play right into the teeth of a defensive gamble executed by captain Stonewall Jackson, on a call made by head coach Robert E. Lee, Jackson scores TD on interception return, but suffered a life threatening injury after he crossed the goal line, being mobbed by his teammates, out indefinitely, and his chances of returning do not look good (Chancellorsville)

-Halftime:  South leads North 28-14, South has the momentum, but knows it's a long, long way from being over, head coach Robert E. Lee is glad his defense is forcing turnovers and scoring, but also knows he needs his offense to score some points to really put his stamp on the game; needs to put together some long, time consuming drives so his defense is not always on the field, in such bad positions


-3rd Quarter key plays

-South has the ball first, head coach Robert E. Lee gets aggressive on offense to open 3rd Quarter, with three straight gadget plays, but disaster will strike (Gettysburg) the first trick play results in a big gain for a 1st down across midfield, into North's territory, but one key player for the South is injured and out for the game, as the receiver who made the catch suffered a concussion, the next gadget play results in an incomplete pass when the receiver was wide open and beat his man, but a terrible throw resulted in a missed opportunity, and another key player for the South is injured, out for the season, as the intended receiver pulled a hamstring and tore an ACL trying to accelerate and cut at the exact moment trying to snag the errant throw, the third gadget play blows up in the South's face, where not only do they fumble the second handoff of a double reverse, that gets returned by the North for a TD, but four more starters for the South are lost to season ending injuries on the play, South still leads 28-21

-On the ensuing kickoff, the North perfectly executes a deep sky kick, pinning the South inside its own 15 yard line, but a holding penalty moved the ball inside the 10.  On the next play, the South's depleted offense struggles to block blitzing North LBs, who appeared to pick up a sack near the goal line, but a fumble by the South's QB was recovered in the endzone for a TD (Vicksburg), PAT ties game 28-28, and the North has ALL of the momentum, two minutes into the 3rd Quarter

-North head coach Abraham Lincoln makes early 2nd half adjustment, keying on using perhaps his best athlete, Ulysses S. Grant, on both sides of the ball, and special teams the rest of the way, Grant, who had been the kicker on the skykick, and one of the blitzing LBs on the last TD, will remain in the game for every snap the rest of the way, as QB, MLB, and Kicker, not Punter though, as punting will not be an option for the North from here on out

-South answers with a kickoff return into North territory, but drive disappointingly ends with a FG, which still feels like a turnover (Chickamauga), as another starting offensive player for the South was lost for the game to injury, South leads 31-28, but still feels as if they have no momentum

-North answers with their own FG drive in a grind it out, 9 play, 56 yard drive that ties the game at 31-31 (Chattanooga) midway through the 3rd Quarter, and on the drive, two more defensive starters for the South are injured and declared out for the season

-South forced to punt on its next series after defense led by Grant as defensive captain successful, North then gets aggressive with Grant going to QB, back to back big plays put the North back in the lead, on a 40 yard QB keeper from Grant (Wilderness), followed by another 35 yd TD run from Grant on another QB keeper (Spotsylvania), extra point gives North 38-31 lead late in 3rd Quarter, South's depleted skill players fumble ensuing kickoff, setting up another TD pass for Grant, North leads 45-31 (Cold Harbor), despite Grant making an adjustment to the protection which actually resulting in two of his offensive linemen getting injured, but there is no drop off in talent when their replacements step right in

-South's next offensive series picks up one first down but was again forced to punt, North defense seems to have the South's offense on lockdown, playing with 8 or 9 guys in the box to shut down the run, but the South's second and third string skill position players at QB & WR, forced into action due to injury, simply cannot successfully execute downfield passing plays, as the North's defense can adjust on the fly from crowding the box to defending the pass, North starting DBs give up nothing one on one to South's receivers, leaving LBs free to stuff the run and blitz the QB

-End of 3rd Qtr:  North leads South 45-31, but has all of the momentum, as South only has 3 offensive starters, and 4 defensive starters still in the game, North actually only has 2 starters fully healthy on both sides of the ball, but there is almost no drop off in talent or productivity from their backups


4th Quarter key plays

-North extends lead on explosive 70 yard break away run by William T. Sherman (Atlanta) on first play of 4th Quarter, PAT makes it 52-31 in favor of North, momentum continues to mount for the North, morale continues to dwindle for the South, as there is still a quarter left to play

A similar situation that cost the South a TD that tied the game at 28-28 early in 3rd Quarter reappears early in 4th Quarter, as Grant perfectly executes another deep sky kick, where the South has no choice but a fair catch, and again, a holding penalty during the kick, moved the ball inside the 10 yard line.  After awfully executed incompletions on the next two plays, a 3rd & 10 from their own 7 yard line results in a deflected ball, intercepted by Grant, returned for a TD (Petersburg), North extends lead to 59-31, still early in 4th Quarter

-South makes huge kickoff return to North's 10 yard line, desperately needing points to try to recapture some momentum, but the South would have settle for a FG (Kennesaw Mtn.), as an incompletion and two sacks left them with 4th & Goal from the 28, North still leads 59-34

-After a short kickoff return, the North settles into an offensive mode that would seek to melt the clock, kill the South's will to keep playing, and grind things out.  Instead of Grant aggressively passing or running option keepers, he would lean on fresh RB William T. Sherman, in a '3 yards in a cloud of dust' type drive that would go 83 yards in 22 plays, chewing up the bulk of the 4th quarter, and culminating in another TD (Sherman's March) for the North, PAT extends the North's lead to 66-34 with approximately 3 minutes left to play in the contest

-South keeps blocking and running hard, but their depleted offense simply cannot move the ball and turns the ball over on downs in their own territory (Bentonville), resulting in another FG for the North, who now lead 69-34, with less than a minute to play

-On the ensuing kickoff, the South's 11 players on the field are all either 3rd or 4th string, 10 of the 11 have not even practiced a kick return; they and their teammates are demoralized, ready for the clock to hit 0:00 and get this game over with, while the North's 11 players are still feeling like they want to keep scoring, their kickoff unit includes only 1 starter, but their 2nd and 3rd stringers have had plenty of experience and preparation time, the 11 players from the kickoff team are the only 11 healthy ones the South still has that can play, so they stay on the field for offense, an errant toss on a sweep to the strong side is fumbled by the South's 4th string RB, the loose ball is picked up by Philip Sheridan, Safety for the North, and returned for a 16 yards for a TD (Five Forks) as time expires, clinching the game in style for the North

-Final: North beats South 75-34

#2 FHS1985


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Posted 13 December 2016 - 05:47 PM

Good stuff! But (history pedant) you have the scoring plays at the start of the second half out of order, Vicksburg campaign preceded Gettysburg, even if the fall of the city didn't. Also it would have been nice to have worked in Fort Fisher for the NC angle (much more important than Bentonville).

A couple of years ago Murphy played Albemarle for the rights to go to the 1A state title game, with the winner playing Plymouth. Murphy won, but I wanted Albemarle to go so someone, somewhere could write "Albemarle battles Plymouth (again)."

You might be the only one who posts here who will get that.

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

― C.S. Lewis

#3 tarheelg61581


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Posted 13 December 2016 - 07:31 PM

yea, tough to work in the complexities of a two front war into one game played on one field, and think of Fort Fisher (and many others) as one of the big non-scoring plays that get left out of highlight reels and scoring summaries every week