1896 Lafayette football team

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1896 Lafayette football
Co-national champion (NCF, Davis)
Conference Independent
1896 record 11–0–1
Head coach Parke H. Davis (2nd season)
Home stadium March Field
← 1895
1897 →

The 1896 Lafayette football team represented Lafayette College in the sport of American football during the 1896 college football season. The team was retroactively selected as the co-national champion by two selectors, the National Championship Foundation and Parke H. Davis.[1] Lafayette's national championship this season was one of the most surprising and dramatic in the early history of college football. Lafayette began its season by tying Princeton 0–0, the first tie in their series, and defeated West Virginia University three times in three days by a combined score of 56–0.

At 4–0–1, Lafayette was set to meet the University of Pennsylvania on October 24 at Franklin Field. Penn, coached by George Woodruff, was in the midst of a 34-game winning streak and was only guaranteeing Lafayette $150 for a game that would net $10,000. As an intense media war surrounded the game, Lafayette enrolled Fielding H. Yost, a tackle from West Virginia, whom Lafayette had defeated in the final game of their series on October 17. With Yost, College Football Hall of Famer Charles "Babe" Rinehart, and the inventor of the football helmet George "Rose" Barclay on the field, Lafayette won 6–4. It was the first victory of a 'small school' over one of the Big Four (Harvard-Yale-Penn-Princeton). Penn would win its next 31 games. Lafayette closed its season with an 18–6 win over Navy. Following the season, Lafayette was recognized as national champions along with Princeton (11–0–1) and was the first national champion outside the Harvard-Yale-Princeton-Penn rotation prevalent during that era. However, absent from their 1896 record book was the annual rivalry with Lehigh, which cancelled two games scheduled for November in protest over the eligibility and amateur status of Barclay who had played professional baseball the previous summer.[2][3]


Date Opponent Site Result
September 26, 1896 Volunteer Athletic Club of New York City* March Field • Easton, Pennsylvania W 44–0  
October 7, 1896 Princeton* March Field • Easton, Pennsylvania T 0–0  
October 15, 1896 vs. West Virginia* Fairmont, West Virginia W 18–0  
October 16, 1896 vs. West Virginia* Parkersburg, West Virginia W 6–0  
October 17, 1896 vs. West Virginia* Wheeling, West Virginia W 34–0  
October 24, 1896 at Pennsylvania* Franklin FieldPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania W 6–4  
October 31, 1896 Dickinson* March Field • Easton, Pennsylvania W 18–0  
November 10, 1896 at Bloomsburg* Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania W 17–0  
November 11, 1896 at Wyoming Seminary (PA)* Kingston, Pennsylvania W 23–0  
November 14, 1896 Franklin & Marshall* March Field • Easton, Pennsylvania W 38–0  
November 21, 1896 Wesleyan* March Field • Easton, Pennsylvania W 18–0  
November 26, 1896 at Navy* Worden FieldAnnapolis, Maryland W 18–0  
*Non-conference game.


  1. ^ National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) (2015). "National Poll Rankings" (PDF). NCAA Division I Football Records. NCAA. p. 107. Retrieved January 4, 2016. 
  2. ^ March, Francis A. (1926). Athletics at Lafayette College. p. 272. 
  3. ^ Lewis, S. Parnell (1982). 100 Years of Football at Lafayette College. p. 23.