By James Anastas
It was a magnificent autumn day in 1953. The shimmering sun was visible over Ewing Hall. Coach Carroll Widdoes approached Lowell "Duke" Anderson, an Ohio University football player. Without any hesitation, and in a very snappy manner, he ordered Duke to appear in front of Cutler Hall in his football uniform. "I'll be expecting you in 45 minutes," Widdoes said. "But Coach," replied Duke, "what's going on? We just had practice, and I've showered and dressed." "You heard my order," was Widdoes' response.
Duke realized the coach meant what he said. Without any further questions, Duke hurried to the Peden Stadium lockers. He got into his uniform, ran up Richland Avenue, and appeared in front of Cutler Hall. Much to his amazement, he was greeted by a newspaper reporter, a photographer, Brandon "Butch" Grover (then an assistant to the University president), Frank Brough Richey (freshman football coach), and, of course, Coach Widdoes.
In his commanding voice, Widdoes said, "Let's see you kick this football over Cutler Hall." Instantly, the photographer got into position to take the picture. A crowd was gathering, and Duke became bewildered. Nevertheless, he kicked the ball, and it hit the cupola, but it did not go over Cutler Hall. He tried again, and this time it was a booming kick, and the crowd roared! It went way over Cutler. Duke made three more attempts. His final score was three out of five.
Duke turned to Coach Widdoes and asked, "Now can you tell me what this was all about?" "Read about it in the paper tomorrow," the coach said.
The paper stated that it was a challenge in the 1800s for a student to attempt to kick a ball over Old Center, now Cutler Hall. Young "Rough John" Brough was the only student capable of this feat then. Ohio University was observing its Sesquicentennial Celebration (1953-54), and this is why Coach Widdoes wanted to reenact Brough's feat. Anderson commented that he'd like to be present if the kick was repeated during the University's Bicentennial Celebration.
While a student, Brough worked for The Mirror, then the local Athens paper. In 1845, Brough and his brother founded the Cincinnati Enquirer. During the Civil War, Brough became Ohio's governor. Frank Brough Richey, present to see the legend get its test in 1953, was a descendant of John Brough.
Anderson was the captain of the 1953 football team that won Ohio University's first Mid-American Conference championship. He was the kicker and played center on that team. He was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990. Anderson, now a retired school superintendent, resides in Caldwell, Ohio.
James Anastas is an Athens resident who combined memories and research in Alden Library.
This article was reprinted from "Ohio University Recollections for the Bicentennial Anniversary 1804-2004." The book was compiled by the Ohio University Emeriti Association.