The NC State Wolfpack takes on the Tennessee Volunteers tonight in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. While it should be a good game, it’s doubtful that anyone watching in Atlanta or in Raleigh will remember the first time the two teams played.
The first match-up between the two schools — more than 100 years ago — resulted in the first signature win for NC State athletics.
The North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts was in its second full year in 1890. The university had the Pullen and Leazar literary societies to fill the students’ extracurricular needs, but some of those boys and young men wanted more. So they organized a football team that included boys from Raleigh to serve as the college’s first sports club, which received no money from the college.
In those first couple of years, the “the Farmers and the Mechanics,” as the team was known, played area academies and preparatory schools, according to Bill Beezley’s The Wolfpack: Intercollegiate Athletics at North Carolina State University. Fans celebrated the team’s first athletic victory, an 1890 win over Horner Academy in Oxford, N.C., by building a bonfire and listening to professors speak about A&M football’s success.
The 1892 schedule included games against other area colleges. A&M battled Wake Forest, the University of North Carolina and Trinity College, now known as Duke University — but with one catch. The Farmers played those schools’ second teams, known then as “scrubs.”
“C.C. Harris, an 1897 graduate, remembered that the team defeated the prep schools, then got ‘beaten to a frazzle by Carolina and Wake Forest scrubs’ but did manage a tie with Trinity’s second team,” wrote Beezley. The squad continued to struggle as it lost its first official game to Carolina 22-0 in 1893.
And then Tennessee came to town.
November brought the Volunteers to North Carolina for a series of scheduled games against Trinity, UNC and Wake Forest. But after losing to UNC 60-0 and to Trinity 70-0, Tennessee canceled its game against Wake, opting for a more competitive contest against the A&M boys on November 7, 1893.
Beezley wrote that those who attended the game paid 25 cents to get in to watch a scoreless 30-minute first half. But in the second half, the Farmers’ offense was able to get moving with the “flying V” formation and get a touchdown. That led to a 12-6 win for A&M, the school’s first victory against another college opponent.