clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Throwback Thursday: Notre Dame Fighting Irish VS North Carolina Tar Heels, 1949

New York Sees 42- 6 ND Victory

UNC registered the first score of the game, a touchdown by UNC running back Dick Bunting—seen on the bottom of the pile. Other UNC players, grouped in the center, are Kenny Powell on the far left, Joe Neikirk (#63), Art Weiner (#50), and Julian King (#84).
Photo Credit:

This week the Notre Dame Fighting Irish face the University of North Carolina Tar Heels on the road. The two teams have faced each other 22 times, with Notre Dame winning 20 times, and North Carolina winning once (their second win was vacated in 2008). The longest win streak is held by Notre Dame (10) from 1949-1959. The current win streak is also held by Notre Dame (4) 2014-2021. Notre Dame’s largest margin of victory is 42-6 in 1949, and North Carolina’s largest margin of victory is 12-7 in 1960.

Notre Dame’s all time record is 0.729 (930-333-42), and North Carolina’s all time record is 0.559 (715-559-54). Notre Dame has played 38 bowl games and has a bowl record of 0.474 (18-20-0), and UNC has played 36 bowl games and has a bowl record of 0.417 (15-21-0). Notre Dame has had 105 consensus All-Americans, to UNC’s 15. Notre Dame has had 522 NFL draft picks, to UNC’s 247. And Notre Dame has spent 851 weeks in the AP Poll, to UNC’s 262.

Photo Credit:

This week I am going to flash back to the 1949 meeting between the Irish and the Tar Heels. The following excerpt is from the December 9, 1949 issue of the Notre Dame Scholastic.

New York Sees 42- 6 ND Victory


New York City, Nov. 12.—For three quarters this afternoon an inspired North Carolina team pulled off heroics that equaled the efforts of the little Dutch boy who held back the sea with his thumb in the dike. But the 67,000 persons who had jammed mammoth Yankee Stadium saw the dike finally break in the third quarter as Bob Williams & Co. rushed down the field in an 85-yard march and then swamped the Carolinians in the final period to win, 42-6.

The Justice-less Tar Heels primed their defense to stop Williams’ deadly passes, and they succeeded for half the game. But Billy Barrett, Leon Hart and Frank Spaniel shook wearying Carolina defenders in the third and final quarter; the Irish passing attack looked as awesomely efficient as in the Michigan State game.

Before Williams, Barrett, et al., put on their show, North Carolina challenged the Irish more vigorously than had any other team thus far this season. While the stadium was still partially unfilled, with less than three minutes of the game gone, Tar Heel end Kenny Powell crashed the Notre Dame line and smothered Williams’ attempted kick from the Irish ten-yard line. Dick Bunting, a tremendous tailback who shouldn’t be playing second string to anyone, carried twice for five yards a time, and a score.

Notre Dame came back, but only to midfield or so, and Carolina again took over. A penalty nullified a second Tar Heel score, and the fireworks began. Frank Spaniel took off from his own 22 and, with brilliant blocking, went all the way, 78 yards for the first Notre Dame touchdown. The Tar Heels blocked their second kick in fifteen minutes and the score remained 6-6 at the half.

By midway in the third quarter a galaxy of stars bright enough to illuminate this gray November day had pounced on a break and turned it into the first of five second half scores. Notre Dame got a tremendous break when a fourth down roughing-the-kicker penalty gave them a free first down. The Irish began to march. The touchdown came when Williams passed to Leon Hart who, while carrying a half-dozen Carolinians on his back, lateraled the ball to pint-sized Billy Barrett. The fast Chicagoan dashed the rest of the way to a score.

“Notre Dame was more incredible than ever while fulfilling its-commitment with a king-size stomping of North Carolina yesterday afternoon.” — Lewis Burton, New York Journal-American.”

Notre Dame picked up two more points as Hart grabbed and then muffed a fumble by Bunting and recovered in the North Carolina end zone.

It was the fourth quarter which saw the full flood of Irish power wash over the Tar Heels. Williams threw 11 yards to Spaniel for the first fourth period touchdown. And Williams threw 29 yards to Barrett for the second. In the interval Williams completed at least three passes more to fire the Irish march.

Mike Swistowicz, not designed for broken field running, went straight down the sidelines for a score after intercepting a Tar Heel pass on his own 15. Irish blockers knocked off potential tacklers who blocked Swistowicz’ way with the calmness and precision of skilled skeet shooters picking off clay pigeons.

Barrett scored the final touchdown of the game on a catch of an 18-yard pass from Johnny Mazur, Williams’ replacement at quarterback. Steve Oracko set up the score by recovering a Carolina fumble on the Tar Heel 23.

Bunting, Billy Hayes, Iru Holdash, Powell and Art Weiner all played inspired ball for Carolina. For most of the first half the Tar Heel line was over and through the Irish forward wall. But the second half told the story—North Carolina had a net minus of five yards on the ground. Altogether the statistics are not enough to praise the valiant fight that the Tar Heels waged without the help of their ace, Charlie Justice. However, they showed once again the mighty power of Frank Leahy’s great Green machine.

Do you think Coach Freeman will be able to lead his squad to victory this weekend against North Carolina? Or will the boys fall on the road to the Tar Heels? What say you?

Cheers & GO IRISH!