Celebrating 110 years of Student Journalism

Historical Bell Games

CHRISTIAN REDMOND ’20 | STAFF WRITER • The Wabash College and DePauw University football teams have been meeting nearly every year since 1890, but it wasn’t until 1932 that the Monon Bell became the trophy of the rivalry game. However, the first Monon Bell game ended in a 0-0 tie, meaning neither team won the bell until a 1933 DePauw victory.

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Since then, the Monon Bell game has contained some of the most intense and exciting football games in DIII history. “The Mud Bowl” of 1967 pitted Wabash as the underdog against a strong DePauw team. The combination of mud, snow, ice, and football resulted in va slippery Wabash 7-0 win. Wabash finished the season 2-7, while DePauw finished 6-2-1. When the game ended though, the Bell was nowhere to be found. Come to find out, DePauw feared a Wabash victory and buried the three-hundred-pound bell in the end zone of Blackstock stadium. This led the game to alternatively be called “The Grave Robbing of ’67”.

Wabash was again the underdog against an NCAA playoff-bound DePauw team in 1985. The DePauw quarterback’s All-American status couldn’t stop Wabash from racking up five sacks throughout the game. Bill Kaiser ’87 set a Division III record with fifty-eight carries in one game, which gained him 211 yards. Joe Bevelhimer ’86, a now Wabash Athletics Hall-of-Famer, slammed in five field goals (one at 49 yards and one at 50 yards) in five attempts. The 1985 Wabash team denied DePauw all playoff hopes because of this astounding game.

 

The snow struck again in 1995. A layer of snow covered the field before the game, and it never let up, causing this game to be known as “The Blizzard of ’95”. The slippery field and strong defenses caused both teams’ offenses to get shut out for the first three quarters. The first score came from DePauw’s defense by way of safety when Wabash’s quarterback, Chris Ings ‘96, dropped the slick ball in the Wabash end zone. Ings, another Wabash Athletics Hall-of- Famer, then led the offense to a fourth-quarter drive, ending with Ings diving into the end zone for the Little Giants win.

The legendary 2001 Monon Bell game saw Wabash with a 14-0 early lead. DePauw fired back however and tied the score at 21-21 with forty- eight seconds left in the game. Jake Knott ’03 launched the ball with two seconds on the clock from the forty- eight-yard line. The hail mary hit All- American tight end Ryan Short ’03. Short tipped the ball behind him into the hands of Kurt Casper ’02, scoring a Wabash College touchdown with no time left on the clock. The play became known as “The Catch” and “The Monon Miracle”.

Casper told The Bachelor on November 11, 2011, “There was this overall sense among the team that the day was going to end up alright. Even when we had the ball with less than three seconds left, the team had a sense of calm. Like we knew we were gonna be ok.”

This “sense of calm” and confidence of victory isn’t exclusive to the 2001 team. Head Coach Don Morell spoke to The Indianapolis Star after Wabash’s 2017 Monon Bell victory about “the magic”. Kyle McAtee ’19, a current captain of the football team, elaborated further on “the magic”.

“I would say the ‘magic’ is the Wabash Always Fights mentality,” McAtee said. “We could be down 100-0 and we’d still be on the sideline yelling ‘hard hat D’ with the thought that we can still win. We, as football players, take very seriously the expectation of a Wabash Man. To always poke your chest out and keep your chin up. In victory or defeat. The ‘magic’ that we have on that sideline is to always always always keep clawing and scratching to try and be successful.”

“The magic” was evident to anyone who attended the 2017 Monon Bell game. Even though Ike James ’20 bounced off a straight-on tackle for

a momentous touchdown, Wabash trailed DePauw throughout the game. Two fake field goals in the same drive (one had Kirby Cox ’17 stand close to the sideline so he wasn’t noticed pre-snap by the defense, the other obtained with only ten players on the field), led to
a touchdown, but Wabash was still down. With eight minutes left in the game, the Little Giants punted and recovered a forced fumble on the one-yard line. This brought Wabash to 20-21, but Morell decided to go for two to give Wabash a 22-21 victory. McAtee referenced “the magic”

again when asked about the decision to go for two. “Our defense played phenomenal that day, and we had faith they would put us in position to win no matter if we converted or not,” Mcatee said. “And, it’s the bell game, why not?”

The history of the Wabash and DePauw Monon Bell game is a legendary and iconic one, worthy of its recognition as “one of college football’s greatest rivalries.” It brings up the deepest passions in Wabash students, faculty, and alum. McAtee said, when speaking on the 2017 victory, “Keeping the bell is always the goal. There is nothing like it… We do not forget the men that came before us, ever. I was crying in Connor Rice ’16’s arms after that game. I told him ‘that one was for your class of Seniors last year too, you know?’ The bell means everything to everyone. That’s why we give it the respect it deserves every year we play for it.”