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First Intercollegiate Football Game

Until 1800 outdoor exercise for Princeton students usually took the form of walking, horseback riding, canoeing down the Millstone River, and hunting small game in the hills and fields nearby. By 1857, cricket, baseball, and football arose as popular sports on campus.

The first American intercollegiate football game was held between Princeton and Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. on November 6, 1869. The game played was a form of association football, forerunner of later-day soccer. The 25 players from each college played in their street clothes, and the several hundred spectators stood around on the side or sat on a wooden fence. The Rutgers Targum reported that Princeton's first goal was made "by a well directed kick, from a gentleman whose name we don't know, but who did the best kicking on the Princeton side." The Targum is equally silent about the identity of the first wrong-way player in American football history, a Rutgers man "who, in his ardor, forgot which way he was kicking," and scored for Princeton instead of Rutgers.

Rutgers ended up winning the game 6 to 4. A week later, however, Princeton won the return match on its grounds, 8 to 0.

(Adapted from A Princeton Companion.)