From the 1913 game Gus Dorais and Knute Rockne introduced the exotic weapon of the forward pass to the nation’s attention to the 1946 “game of the century” scoreless tie, the annual Army-Notre Dame game was a fall fixture that was always one of the highlights of the college football season.
Once it moved from West Point to New York City in 1923, and especially once it settled into Yankee Stadium from 1925-46, generations of soldiers and Notre Dame “subway alumni” made the trek from all over the country to revel in the spectacle.
In truth, however, for about a dozen years beginning in 1932 most of the reveling was being done by Notre Dame fans, as during that period the Ramblers had run off a streak of 10 wins and 2 ties, leaving the Cadets wondering whether that proverbial luck of the Irish might be more than just a folkloric superstition.
But when the 1944 season rolled around, there was little question that worms would be turning and scores would be settled. Going into the Armistice Day contest, the Army had rolled to six straight wins by an average score of 60 to 3. All-American Glenn Davis, the “Mr. Outside” to Doc Blanchard’s “Mr. Inside” in the Army backfield, had scored a touchdown EVERY OTHER TIME he had carried the ball. A Notre Dame scout who had been following the Cadets during that span had but one suggestion to coach Ed McKeever: “Cancel the game.”
There was little reason to doubt the estimate of one Army colonel that the Cadets alone could have sold 200,000 tickets. Army fans had been waiting 13 years for this day.
And from the opening kickoff, the soldiers and their fans were not to be disappointed. Taking the ball on their first possession, the Cadets drove 48 yards for a touchdown. By the end of the first quarter it was 20-0. The second quarter added 13 more to that. Entering the final quarter the margin was 46. And at the sound of the final gun, the score was an almost unimaginable 59-0.
Beyond the revenge factor, though, the Army had a particular reason to give this game special attention. Sitting in a wheelchair on the sideline was a former Army player and assistant coach named “Red” Reeder, who had lost part of his leg in the recent D-Day invasion at Normandy. General George Marshall had arranged for him to be flown up from Walter Reed Hospital so that he could see his former team in action, and the Cadets had dedicated this game to him.
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