One of the things I want to do in 2022 is learn more Notre Dame football history, so for the next 11 stories I’m going to pick a game from each of the 11 national championship years to learn a bit more about our national championship teams. This week I’m writing about the 1924 championship team and the game against Army on October 18th, 1924. Here’s an excerpt from the 1924 Football Review.
Again the “Fighting Irish” swept out of the West to meet their traditional foe of the Plains. But this time the scene of the battle was set not on the majestic “Storm King” but down at “Coogan’s Bluff,” before sixty thousand frenzied rooters.
The first quarter consisted mostly of an even punting duel between Wood of the Army and Elmer Layden who had replaced Cerney at full-back. In the second quarter the sixty thousand spectators were brought to their feet by the consistent attack of the Rockmen. Getting possession of the ball on their fifteen yard line, Stuhldreher, Crowley, Miller and Layden showed that they warranted all the praise and admiration heaped upon them. Jimmie rounded the end for twenty yards; then Don cut loose with eleven more. Harry shot a pass to Crowley which netted twelve yards. And while Grantland Rice, perched in the press boxes, was having the great idea of the “Four Horsemen”, Stuhldreher, Layden, Crowley and Miller did everything a backfield could possibly do, and did it perfectly. Layden went over for the first touchdown and the quarter ended with the score: Notre Dame 6; Army 0. In the third quarter, Famine, Pestilence, Destruction and Death, or rather, Stuhldreher, Layden, Crowley and Miller, again fell upon the eleven Army men and Crowley went over for another touchdown. The period ended: Notre Dame 13; Army 0.
During the fourth quarter, Wilson of the Army got away for a 45 yard run but the Army attack promptly fizzled. Wood punted to Notre Dame’s ten yard line. Layden punted out of danger but the Irish were penalized fifteen yards. A clever bit of strategy by the Army enabled Harding, the Cadet quarterback, to cross the Notre Dame goal. The game ended with the score: Notre Dame 13; Army 7.
The 1924 Army team is worthy of the greatest praise. “Fighting and dangerous to the very end,” our own heroes said.
Notre Dame Eleven Defeats Army
Moving with speed, power and precision, Knute Rockne’s Notre Dame football machine, 1924 model, defeated the Army, 13 to 7, before 60,000 at the Polo Grounds yesterday. The Hoosiers scored a touchdown in the second period and another in the third, and the Army’s only rebuttal was a touchdown shortly after the fourth period had begun. But at that late hour the soldiers were tired and battered, and the machine went on to win.
West point pluck against Notre Dame’s machine was a one-sided proposition and it was a clean-cut victory. An epic might be written about the Army’s brave stand and gallant counter attack in the final quarter; but after all it was Notre Dame which had the speed, the deception, the decisive punch and, to boot, the coaching genius of Knute Rockne.
If an epic could be written about the Army, there was also material for several poems in the swift, dashing play of the men from Indiana. Notre Dame’s backfield attack had some of the poetry of motion about it. Launched from well-concealed and deceptive positions, it swept the Army flanks, darted outside and inside the tackles and tore jagged holes in the line. When Miller, Crowley and Stuhldreher took the ball and started around the end, they ran like men inspired. (Read more here.)
And of course, in the immortal words of Grantland Rice:
“Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as Famine, Pestilence, Destruction and Death. These are only aliases. Their real names are Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden. They formed the crest of the South Bend cyclone before which another fighting Army football team was swept over the precipice at the Polo Grounds yesterday afternoon as 55,000 spectators peered down on the bewildering panorama spread on the green plain below.”
Next time I’ll choose a game from the 1929 season. Got any suggestions? Shoot them my way!
Cheers & GO IRISH!