On September 12th, 1952 the Tazewell Bulldogs battled Emory & Henry College’s Freshmen team. At the time, it was not unusual for a college freshmen or JV team to play against local high school teams. Bluefield College and East Tennessee State’s JV teams also played high school teams from our area during this time period.
In 1952, the NCAA did not allow freshmen to play varsity sports. During the Korean War in 1950-1951, the NCAA temporarily allowed freshmen to play varsity sports. But in 1952, the NCAA once again restricted freshmen from playing varsity sports. In 1970, the NCAA allowed freshmen to play varsity sports in sports other than football and basketball.
On November 14th, 1970, Southern Airways Flight 932 which was chartered by Marshall University to transport the football team and fans to and from the football game against East Carolina crashed on approach to Tri-State Airport in Huntington, West Virginia. All 75 people on board died.
Former Tazewell Bulldog, Jack Crabtree was a sophomore offensive linemen on the 1970 Thundering Herd team. He was not on the flight that crashed because he had failed to gain eligibility during that season. For legendary Coach Dave Rider, Crabtree was a third team All-Stater at Tazewell. The Bulldogs went 9-2 during Crabtree’s senior season. In a playoff game, Crabtree had 17 solo tackles and assisted on 19 others. He intercepted 7 passes from his linebacker position during his senior season.
Rather than disband the football program after the crash, Marshall decided to rebuild the program. As part of the rebuilding process, Marshall requested and was granted a waiver by the NCAA to allow freshmen to compete on the 1971 Marshall football team. In 1972, the NCAA granted freshmen the eligibility to play varsity football and basketball.
During the time that freshmen were ineligible from competing in varsity sports, Emory & Henry College’s freshmen team played against other college freshmen teams and some high school teams like Abingdon, Appalachia, Marion, Virginia High, Richlands, Saltville, Tennessee High, and Dobyns-Bennett. In the 48 games played against those high school teams, Emory & Henry’s Freshmen team won 22 games, lost 19 games, and tied 7 games.
In the lone meeting between Emory & College and Tazewell, the Bulldogs entered the contest with a 1-0 record after beating Virginia High 13-7 to open the season.
After a scoreless first quarter, Emory and Henry’s Bransom found the endzone from four yards out. The extra point was good and Emory & Henry grabbed a 7-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
In the third quarter, Tazewell tied the score at seven when an Emory substitute’s left the bench to tackle Tazewell’s Bill Terry, who was touchdown-bound. Tazewell was awarded a touchdown on a forfeit.
On the last play of the game, Emory & Henry missed a field goal and the game ended in a 7-7 tie.
Coach James LaVanchie’s 1952 Tazewell Bulldogs finished the season with a 6-2-2 record. They had wins over Virginia High, Graham (27-13), Richlands (19-7), Northfork, WV (19-0), Pocahontas (28-7), and Pulaski (25-0). The ’52 team suffered losses at the hands of Marion (8-14) and Gary, WV (0-6). Along with the tie against Emory & Henry, the ’52 Bulldogs also tied Tennessee High (7-7).
During the 1952 season, the Emory & Henry Varsity team was coached by former Tazewell High School coach Conley Snidow. In his last season at Emory & Henry, Snidow would guide the Wasps to an 8-2 record and a Smokey Mountain Conference Athletic Championship. Prior to coming to Emory & Henry, Snidow had coached basketball and football at Tazewell High School. In 1940, he guided the Bulldogs to the only basketball State Championship in school history. In 1946, he led the Bulldogs football team to the Western Virginia Class B State Championship game. The Bulldogs lost that game 14-6 to Covington. Snidow compiled a 42-11-6 record during his six seasons as Tazewell’s football coach. The 42 wins are the sixth most in school history.