October 24, 1926: Los Angeles Buccaneers vs. Buffalo Rangers
Historical Game of the Week
By Ken Crippen
- Professional Football Researchers Association
Published: September 16th, 2009
The 1926 season was a turning point for professional football in Buffalo. Queen City mainstay Tommy Hughitt and 1925 coach Walt Koppisch were distant memories, but the pain of a 1-6-2 season still lingered in the minds of the local fans. Jim Kendrick was brought in to replace Koppisch and brought a radical idea with him. Instead of supplying the team with local talent, Kendrick decided to stock his club with players strictly from Texas and southwestern United States locations. The newly renamed Buffalo Rangers – or sometimes referred to as the “Texas” Rangers – had a lot of work to do.
James Marcellus Kendrick started playing professional football in 1922 when he signed with the Canton Bulldogs, while also playing a few games for the Toledo Maroons. Over the next few years, Kendrick jumped to the Louisville Brecks, Chicago Bears, Hammond Pros, Buffalo Bisons and Rochester Jeffersons, before becoming a player-coach for the 1926 Ranger team.
Buffalo faced Brick Muller’s Los Angeles Buccaneers, a team that was primarily a road team and never actually played a game in Los Angeles. Harold “Brick” Muller was a member of the 1920 University of California team that went undefeated and untied throughout the season. He received All-American honors in 1920 and 1921, making him the first player from the west coast to achieve that distinction.
This would be the first time in local history that a Pacific coast team played in Buffalo, even though this “Pacific Coast” team was stationed out of Chicago. Both teams were coming off of a win, as the Los Angeles team beat Canton 16-13 the previous week and Buffalo beat the Dayton Triangles 7-6. In preparation for this contest, Buffalo coach Jim Kendrick bolstered his roster by adding Lester Caywood from Oklahoma and cutting Firpo McGilbra, George Nix and Tex Kelly. On Wednesday of that week, Buffalo also signed Joe Willson, captain of the 1925 University Of Pennsylvania team (Willson was in camp earlier in the season, but had to resign to devote time to his business commitments. Willson was also a departure from Kendrick’s philosophy of only southern talent on the club.).
A steady downpour during the game against the Buccaneers made the field muddy and the ball slippery. Buffalo was able to get close to the Los Angeles goal line four times in the first half, but was unable to score and the Buccaneer offense was not a threat to the Ranger goal line throughout the game. The highlight to the contest was to be Muller’s passing ability. In practice, he regularly hurled the ball 65 yards in the air for completions, but that day was a different story. Due to the wet conditions, Muller only attempted one pass, and it fell to the ground incomplete. Here is how the first quarter played out: After an exchange of punts, Elmer Slough intercepted a Buccaneer pass on the Ranger 30-yard line. Kendrick then punted to midfield. Los Angeles started their offensive drive with a Tuffy Maul run for eight yards. George Kirk then recovered a Los Angeles fumble on the Ranger 40-yard line. Kendrick punted to the Buccaneer 20-yard line. Los Angeles then proceeded to fumble the ball, with Allison recovering on the Los Angeles 25-yard line. Mule Wilson ran twice, gaining 10 yards. On his third attempt, Wilson gained six yards but fumbled and Al Young recovered. The teams exchanged punts throughout the rest of the first quarter. Kendrick attempted a 25-yard field goal, but it was blocked. Buffalo was able to get within the opponent’s 20-yard line twice in the second quarter, but again was not able to score. Neither team was able to do much in the second half of the game, as only the Rangers were able to get a first down. The game ended in a 0-0 tie.
The Buffalo Rangers went on to a 4-4-2 record, while the Buccaneers were 6-3-1.