Coach Pop Warner, who trashed the forward pass in 1906, is eating his words in ’07. In the pre-season, he’s seen his Carlisle Indians throw spirals that are “deadly accurate.”
A change in rules for the 1907 season also gave the forward pass a boost. In 1906, a forward pass going untouched resulted in a turnover to the other team. In ’07, an untouched forward pass is only slapped with a 15-yard penalty from where the ball is thrown. (The rules guys still hate passing!)
But when Pop’s star quarterback, Frank Mt. Pleasant (a 19-year-old weighing 135 lbs), can throw a spiral 50 yards, it’s worth the risk. It’s time for the “bastard” to soar. Today, Sept. 28, 1907, it did.
Against Villanova, Mt. Pleasant unleashed a deep pass to Albert Exendine. As a reporter called it: “The crowd gasped at the play. Few had seen the ball thrown so far and so high before. The pass spiraled perfectly through the crisp blue sky, and it left the Villanova defense in a daze.” Ex caught it and ran another 30 yards, setting up a touchdown.
Carlisle’s 10-0 victory won’t be remembered long, or their holding Villanova to zero first downs, but that pass – Mt. Pleasant to Exendine – may be hailed as the first “bomb” in what Pop has dubbed “the air attack.”