Duluth Kelleys defeat the Green Bay Packers in 1922

Although the Green Bay Packers generally get the last laugh, let it stand for the record that the Minnesota Vikings won the season opener in 2022 and the Duluth Kelleys topped the Pack one hundred years ago today.

From the Sept. 25, 1922 Duluth Herald:

Kelleys defeat Green Bay team in mighty game
Danny Coughlin makes long run for only touchdown in contest

By Sandy MacDonald

The pro-football championship of the Northwest remains in Duluth as the result of the 6-to-2 victory which the Kelley-Duluths scored over the Green Bay Packers, challengers yesterday afternoon at Athletic park. An ideal autumn day, with Old Sol hanging high in the heavens and just the mere whisper of a breeze, brought out close to 4,000 men and women spectators, and the contest they witnessed was worth all of the trouble and expense they were put to.

While the Kelleys outplayed their big, beefy opponents in the first two quarters, several times threatening to score, Duluth could not bust through the Packers’ fortifications at various times when the ball had been carried to the very shadows of the Green Bay goal posts. Time and again Duluth smashed at Green Bay line while playing within the five-yard space, but each time was repulsed.

While Duluth had the better of the argument in the first two periods, the fans were still doubtful of victory when the third period opened, but their doubts were set at rest when Danny Coughlin, playing at half for the Kelleys, intercepted a forward pass on the Green Bay thirty-five yard line and dashed down the lot right into the Green Bay goal. Coughlin had to do some tall hoofing to escape the many outstretched arms that were grabbing for him and when he got an open field, Mathys, the star quarter of the visitors, was the only man left to stop him. Pat Ryan took him out of the path and Danny galloped to the sweetest touchdown that ever gladdened the hearts of a football multitude.

Green Bay’s two points were scored late in the third period when a blocked kick by Coughlin forced the Duluth player back of his own goal posts. It was the safest procedure and he showed good head work in playing exactly as he did.

During the final period Green Bay made the best showing of the afternoon, gaining thirty yards on an onside kick and making about twenty yards on various other styles of going. A few seconds before final time was called, Buck of the visitors shot a long pass to Mathys, but the latter missed the catch, claiming that he was interfered with. A dispute followed in which Referee Von decided in favor of the Kelleys.

The mighty Green Bay tea, which is being pointed for the championship of the United States, was greatly surprised, not to say shocked, by its defeat. Buck, captain of the Badgers, is a wonderful football player, in fact, is 75 per cent of the Green Bay team. Mathys played a whale of a game at quarter, but Kluas and Glick at center were both very wabbly, and to their poor work was directly attributing much of the fumbling of the visiting backs.

The lineups and summary in yesterday’s game follow:

Lineup
Duluth (6) …………………. (2) Green Bay.
Ryan (c) ………….. le …………. Dunnigan
Kiley ………………. lt ………….. Murray
Sharkey …………. lg …………. Owens
Williams ………… c …………… Klaus
Stein ……………… rt ………….. Buck
Denfeld …………. rg …………. Gardner
Macdonnell …… re …………. Faye
Bratt ……………… qb ………… Mathys
Coughlin ……….. lhb ……….. Regnier
Gilbert …………… fb …………. Taugher
Method …………. rhb ….. (c) Lambeau

By periods
Duluth ……….. 0 0 6 0 — 6
Green Bay ….. 0 0 2 0 — 2

Summary — Substitutes: Green Bay, Wheeler, Zoll, Nadolay, Glick, Cronin, Davis; Duluth, Cole Macdonnell. Touchdowns: Coughlin. Touchback: Coughlin. Timers, Scheldues, McKenzie. Umpire, Coffreen. Referee, Von. Head linesman, Gebert and Smith.

3 Comments

Mike Creger

about 2 months ago

The Packers were their second year in what had originally been the the American Professional Football Association. In 1922, it became the NFL. Like Duluth, the Packers had a hard time convincing teams to play them up north and schedules were often made up on the fly. Green Bay had another dubious problem in early 1922. It was involved in a scandal regarding college players playing for pro teams late in the 1921 season. It really irked Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne that three of his players suited up for Green Bay. It isn't clear if these were seniors who wanted to just play during the holiday break and only technically still college players. But college football was king then, and Rockne and others advocated for abolishing pro leagues. it's hard to fathom just how precarious the NFL was back then. The Packers were subsequently dropped from the APFA in January of 1922, for the player scandal and general lack of funds. It was player coach  Curly Lambeau who reorganized the team and was able to buy back into the now NFL. But they still had that scheduling problem, and often played semi-pro teams like Duluth. The Kelleys traveled to Green bay in November of that year and lost 10-0. But the team had proved its mettle, and was brought into the NFL the next season, 1923. And the rest is history.

Matthew James

about 2 months ago

My favorite line in that response by Knute Rockne is "at Notre Dame it is possible to keep a close tab on all students, as it is necessary to get a permit to leave the campus." His whole response does read more like a prison warden describing the serious consequences for violating the terms of a weekend release than any sort of argument explaining why what they did was actually bad. I suppose I would have to read his signed article from "some time ago" to fully understand the menace of professionalism.

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