Eck Allen’s Record Stands The Test Of Time
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Next time you think you had a tough day at work, assuming we all ever get back to work, that is, there’s a name I want you to think of.
Charles “Eck” Allen.
Next time you wake up feeling a little sore and want to feel sorry for yourself, think of Charles “Eck” Allen, who came out of Ashland, Kentucky, played football and basketball at WVU and went on to coach both sports at Brown and Maine.
Chances are you have never heard of him, unless you are deeply into West Virginia University football history.
He was a guy who knew what it was like to put in a tough day at the office and knew how you feel the next morning if you did.
Listen up. In Mountaineer football history, only three players have carried the ball 40 for more times in a game. One was Amos Zereoue, who carried 41 times against Pitt in 1997, but that was a three-overtime game.
Another was Quincy Wilson, who carried 40 times against Rutgers in 2003.
The third was Eck Allen, who on Nov. 25, 1933, playing out of coach Earl “Greasy” Neale’s single wing, carried 45 times against West Virginia Wesleyan, a record that now has stood for 87 years.
But let’s not stop there. The previous week Allen, playing against Georgetown, toted the ball 42 times. Then, five days after the Wesleyan game, he carried another 35 times against Washington & Jefferson.
Think about that for a minute. In 13 days he carried the football 122 times, gaining 415 yards and scoring three touchdowns.
Oh, by the way, Allen was listed at 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds.
And he wasn’t done.
Eck Allen also threw the football out of the tailback spot in the single wing formation and completed 19 of 43 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns, enough work that you will forgive him the six interceptions he threw.
He probably made the tackles on them.
Having come across this, we figured why not see what Wilson, the only other running back in WVU history to have 40 or more carries in a regulation game, thought of Allen’s accomplishment.
“Holy cow!” was his response.
And Wilson has strong memories about the Rutgers game in 2003, a game that is more remembered for a coaching blunder by Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, who called a timeout with six seconds left in the half in hopes getting a punt return.
Only Rich Rodriguez decided not to punt and brought his offense on the field, Schiano had his return unit and when the Mountaineers saw that Chris Henry was lined up with no one on him, they completed an 83-yard touchdown pass to go to halftime ahead, 17-3.
“We just wore them down and that was my style,” Wilson said. “I was kind of a four yards, six yards, eight yards runner. I just wore you down. I built up a lot of carries but I liked it. I just liked slamming into people.”
But Wilson weighed about 50 pounds more than Eck Allen.
The game turned WVU’s season around and got Rodriguez off and running — really running — at WVU. The Mountaineers had lost four of their first five games going into that one, but they were close …. losing to No. 20 Wisconsin by seven points, to No. 2 Miami in a heartbreaker by two points, by two points to Cincinnati and then getting blown out by Maryland and their former quarterback, Scott McBrien, who transferred.
They then ran off seven straight wins before going to the Gator Bowl and losing again to Maryland, 41-7.
“They kind of had our number,” Wilson remembered.
Did they ever, outscoring WVU 75-14 with McBrien completing 35-of-63 passes in the two games for 601 yards and four touchdowns.
“We lost to a pretty good Maryland team,” Wilson said.
Wilson’s situation in one way was similar to Allen’s, for Allen’s performance against West Virginia Wesleyan in which he carried 42 times for 184 yards and two touchdowns gave the Mountaineers their first win of the season after losing five and tying three games. With him the workhorse, they closed with three straight wins and, luckily, did not have Maryland scheduled.
Football in 1933 was different. Players, yes, were smaller and didn’t work with weights the same way, but this was the middle of the depression and this was a coal mining area and the players were tougher.
Today’s players would argue, but Eck Allen was running behind an offensive line headed by Hall of Fame lineman Joe Stydahar, who would go on to be picked by George Halas of the Chicago Bears with the third pick of the first NFL drarft.
Tough? Stydahar would often play WITHOUT a helmet.
What’s more, the equipment just wasn’t what it is today so you have to assume that carrying that often brings a lot of pain.
This is how Wilson explained it.
“In the moment you’re into it but you get back to the apartment you think ‘Oh, man, I’m pretty sore’ but it comes down if I can hit you before you hit me, I’m fine,” Wilson said. “If I get hit 40 times, I’m going to get out of it better than those guys who hit me.”
Wilson, though, never complained or held back.
“You keep from getting hurt by just playing. If you worry about it, that’s when you get hurt.
Me, I was going to run hard, lower my shoulder, put my head down and bring it to you before you bring it to me,” Wilson said. “I think today I’d of gotten a few offensive targeting calls against me.”
This was how the Associated Press wrote about the Wesleyan game:
MORGANTOWN – West Virginia University’s Mountaineers, loosing [sic] a driving attack which neeed them enough ground to win several foot ball games, raced to their first victory of the season over West Virginia Wesleyan.. The score was 26-13.
The game was peppered with thrills and surprises which kept a scant crowd of 4,000 on edge throughout.
And this was the Washington Star’s coverage of the Georgetown game, which was an upset:
Blasted off their feet by an eleventh-hour rally, which might defy the imaginative pen of a Burt Standish or Horatio Alger, Georgetown University’s game but hapless foot ball warriors went down to a heart-breaking 14-to-13 defeat in their 1933 finale before a rangy, rugged band of Mountaineers from West Virginia.
Oddly, Allen’s passing seemed to get more recognition than his running, in part because the forward pass was not yet a big part of most offenses in the day.
Before the 1933 Wisconsin game, the Badgers’ freshman offensive line coach Red Smith – not the famed sportswriter – scouted Allen and in a newspaper article advancing the game called him “the best college passer I have seen this year and one of the best I have ever seen.”
The article said that Allen completed 13 of 30 passes for 150 yards but you have to remember stat keeping was hit and miss in those day. WVUstats.com lists his stats as 9 of 27 for 148 yards and two touchdowns in that game.
Now get this, Eck Allen is somehow not in the WVU Athletic Hall of Fame. It might just be time to change that. They say his connection to coach Greasy Neale is the reason, Neale having been an unpopular figure when he left the school.
He was second all-time in rushing at WVU with 1,638 yards when his career ended in 1934 and that still stands 27th all-time. It’s more rushing yards gained than six members of WVU’s Hall of Fame.