By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala. - Of all the 87,451 who will pack Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday for the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry, one student shares a unique connection to the foundation of Auburn's football program.
Catherine Andrews, a senior marketing major from Nashville, learned recently that her great-great-great-uncle, Rufus Dorsey, scored the first touchdown in Auburn history in the Tigers' 10-0 win over Georgia in Atlanta in 1892.
"We were at my brother's wedding in Kansas and my aunt mentioned it to me at the reception and said, `I'll send you a picture of the article I've been meaning to send to you,'" Andrews said.
The yellowed, 80-year-old clipping, from October 1937, recounted Dorsey's pioneering role.
"When I really read it and thought about what that meant for Auburn, and that's part of my family, I was like, `Wow, this is a super cool story."
At 5-foot-7, 135 pounds, Rufus "Dutch" Dorsey, like virtually all the players of his time, bore little resemblance to modern-day SEC running backs. Dorsey's speed, however, transcended eras, says historian Mike Jernigan, author of "Auburn Man: The Life & Times of George Petrie."
"Dorsey, described by one of his teammates as 'a speed demon and a natural broken field runner,' had caught Auburn Coach George Petrie's eye a year earlier when he won the 100-yard dash at the college's first field day," Jernigan said. "Petrie's faith in the little halfback paid off when he scored a touchdown early in the game's second half, breaking a scoreless tie and launching the Auburn team to its first football victory."
Growing up in Tennessee with three older brothers, Catherine has always had an affinity for football.
"But I wasn't a huge Auburn football fan until I came here," she said. "It's just so much part of the community that I fell in love with it. I'm just so proud to have a little bit of stake in it."
When it came time to choose a college, Andrews selected Auburn, unaware of her relative's role.
"I knew I wanted that big SEC school feel," she said. "Auburn had always been in the back of my mind. I've always heard great things, and there's a good Auburn community in Nashville. Now I can have this tie to Auburn that I didn't really have before I came here."
For 125 years, football has formed a bond between Auburn and Georgia. That includes the Andrews family. One of Catherine's brothers graduated from Georgia, just as Rufus Dorsey's brother Cam did more than a century before.
"The Georgia game is always so exciting in the first place, especially since my brother went there," she said. "We're always in our family group text, we're going back and forth. It's a game I've loved attending. A few tears might be shed. It might be a bit overwhelming, but so exciting.
"It gives me a sense of pride now when I think about Auburn football. Now, when I see them kick off and it's starting, it's like, `Wow, this is part of my family history, and I have a relative to thank for this.'"
-- Jeff Shearer (@jeff_shearer) November 6, 2017
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer