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Throwback Thursday: Notre Dame Fighting Irish VS Georgia Tech, 1943

The “Victory March” echoed and reechoed across the nation for the battle cry was on and Notre Dame was rolling.

Notre Dame Media Relations

This week the No. 7/7/9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-1) host the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-7) on Senior Day. The two teams have played each other 36 times with Notre Dame winning 29, Georgia Tech winning 6, and one tie. Notre Dame’s largest margin of victory was in 1977 (69-14), and Georgia Tech’s largest margin of victory was in 2007 (33-3). Notre Dame’s longest win streak was from 1922-1927 (six games), and Georgia Tech’s longest win streak is one game, 2007.

This week I’m going to throwback to the 1943 match-up between the Fighting Irish and the Yellow Jackets. In the following excerpt from the 1943 Notre Dame Football Review/Scholastic, written by Dave Scheider, the Irish, or “fighting men of ‘Sorin City’” were out for revenge.

Up from the cotton fields rambled the Engineers of old Georgia Tech. With a surprise victory over favored North Carolina to gloat over, the Yellow-jackets of Coach Bill “The Great” Alexander were confident of another triumph.

Little Clint Castleberry wasn’t making this trip. His brilliant running as a freshman had paved the way for the Yellowjackets’ unexpected triumph over the Irish in 1942. But fullback Eddie Prokop, a thunderbolt line cracker and a “bug on water” in an open field, could always be depended upon to churn up the yardage. Tech’s line was tough and ready, the few gaps filled by V-12 transfers from Vanderbilt, Clemson, and Alabama. At center, “Mutt “ Manning, ail-American candidate and newly elected captain, was a tower of strength. The “slide rule” boys from “Peachland” were ready for a fight to the finish.

Behind the Kelly green portals of ancient Cartier, the men of America’s football capital drew up their defense lines, oiled their tanks and made ready the artillery for the impending assault from the south. The Pitt Panthers, an all-civilian club, had been thoroughly trounced the week previously. Georgia Tech was to be the first real test of Irish strength. More than that, however, the fighting men of “Sorin City” were out for revenge.

In the words of end coach Hughie Devore, who had been scouting them, “The Yellowjackets were truly the Michigan of the South, packing the power and finesse to end up on top.” All week Coach Frank Leahy had stressed crisp, hard blocking and vicious tackling to stop the Dixieland gang. Private Bertelli unlimbered his payoff “wing” for it was sure to be needed on October 2.

In beautiful baseball weather, the green-clad Notre Damers jogged from the locker room to unveil a mighty “T” machine which literally pulverized the highly touted Tech squad. The adding machines showed the final count, 55-13—a display of striped field might and magic which left the 30,000 stunned onlookers speechless. It was the most crushing defeat the Yellowjackets had suffered since 1929. Tech yielded 24 first downs, 450 yards rushing, and eight touchdowns to the irresistible charges of the Irish warriors. These figures tell the story of a powerful forward wall which stood ready to smash open a path at every “Down, ready, hike” from Angelo “the Arm.” These figures tell the story of the power, speed, and deception of Mello, Rykovich, Miller and Bertelli, as fine a set of backs as Notre Dame followers have seen since the days of Schwartz, Carideo, and Brill. But most of all, these figures tell the story of a coordinated display of machine teamwork.

The complete supremacy of the Irish was never in doubt. Before the game was thirty minutes old, the stadium had become a touchdown town. Bertelli tossed touchdown passes to Rykovich, Miller, and Kuffel, while “Big Jim” Mello crossed the double chalk line, down around zero territory, no less than three times. One apiece were credited to frosh stars Bob Hanlon and lineman George Sullivan.

Revenge was ours. There no longer existed any doubts, and coming headlines were forecast by this successful completion of ND’s first big test. Once again, the football world looked to the banks of the St. Joe. The “Victory March” echoed and reechoed across the nation for the battle cry was on and Notre Dame was rolling.

A National Champion—Notre Dame, in this wartime season of 1943, has once again proven herself the capital city of football.

Cheers & GO IRISH!