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Tar Heels Credited with Throwing First Forward Pass

A little known fact about the University of North Carolina Tar Heels is that they are credited with throwing the first foward pass in the game of football in 1895.

As author Bob Quincy notes in his 1973 book "They Made the Bell Tower Chime":

John Heisman, a noted historian, wrote 30 years later that, indeed, the Tar Heels had given birth to the forward pass against the Bulldogs (UGA). It was conceived to break a scoreless deadlock and give UNC a 6-0 win. The Carolinians were in a punting situation and a Georgia rush seemed destined to block the ball. The punter, with an impromptu dash to his right, tossed the ball and it was caught by George Stephens, who ran 70 yards for a touchdown.

Heisman wrote he was at the game standing near the action on the sidelines. He is emphatic that Pop Warner, who was coaching Georgia, protested to the referee to no avail. And he adds he personally wrote Walter Camp, the final authority on football, of the possibilities of "the forward pass" making football a new and more exciting game.

Here's more on George Stephens, the receiver who caught the pass and the developer of the Myers Park section of Charlotte, NC:

He is credited with having caught the first forward pass thrown in football in a game between UNC and Georgia in 1895, when the Carolina quarterback threw it to left halfback Stephens, who proceeded to make the only score of the game against the astonished opponents. (Online source has since been removed)


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