American Football Database
1903 Carlisle Indians football
1903 record11–2–1
Head coachPop Warner (5th season)
CaptainJimmy Johnson
← 1902
1904 →

The 1903 Carlisle Indians football team represented the Carlisle Indians football team of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School during the 1903 college football season. The Indians were coached by Pop Warner in his fifth year as head coach. The team compiled a record of 11–2–1 and outscored opponents 274 to 62.

In 1903, an Indian team coached by Warner first employed its infamous "hidden-ball play" against heavily favored Harvard. Warner, as coach at Cornell, had already used it against Penn State in 1897, but it had not achieved much notice. Carlisle led Harvard at halftime, and hoping to keep the game's momentum, Warner elected to try the play on the ensuing kickoff. Harvard executed the kick, and the Indians formed a circle around the returner. With the aid of a specially altered jersey, the ball was placed up the back of the returner. The Indians broke the huddle and spread out in different directions. Each player feigned carrying the ball, except Dillon, the man with the ball up the back of his jersey. The ruse confused the Crimson players, and they scrambled to find the ball carrier. Dillon, with both his hands free, was ignored by the searching Harvard players, and he ran untouched into the end zone. With the score, Carlisle extended its lead to 11–0, but Harvard came back and eventually won 12–11. Nevertheless, the close match, and trick play, resulted in national attention.[1][2] Warner had learned the trick from John Heisman while facing Auburn in 1895 during his tenure as coach of the Georgia Bulldogs.[3]

Quarterback and captain Jimmy Johnson was selected All-American by Walter Camp. "Camp based his selection on a remarkable game he witnessed when Carlisle played Harvard. Johnson was small but fiery, and was a leader."[4]


September 19Lebanon Valley
W 28–0
September 26Gettysburg
  • Indian Field
  • Carlisle, PA
W 46–0
October 3vs. BucknellWilliamsport, PAW 12–0
October 10at Franklin & MarshallLancaster, PAW 30–0
October 17at Princeton
L 11–0
October 24Swarthmore
  • Indian Field
  • Carlisle, PA
W 12–5
October 31at Harvard
L 12–11
November 7at Georgetown
W 28–6
November 14at PennW 16–6
November 21at VirginiaNorfolk, VAT 6–6
November 26at NorthwesternChicago, ILW 28–0
December 19at Utah
W 22–0
December 25at Reliance Athletic ClubSan Francisco, CAW 23–0
January 1at ShermanW 12–6


See also