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Throwback Thursday: Notre Dame Football Firsts - Navy 1927

They used to call him General Rockne, but it’s Admiral Rockne from now on.

I asked for some feedback (both here and on social media) last week on who Notre Dame’s football rivals are, and opinions are varied (as I expected). Below is my list of Notre Dame’s rivals and/or significant series that I’m going to write about during the off-season. If there’s a team not on the list that you’d like to see me write about, add it to the comment section below!

So far I’ve covered USC and Stanford, linked below. This week I’ll look back to Notre Dame vs Navy, 1927.

USC - 1926
Stanford - 1925
Navy - 1927
Purdue - 1896
Michigan State - 1897
Pitt - 1909
Army - 1913
Northwestern - 1889
Michigan - 1887
BC - 1975
Miami (FL) - 1955
Florida State - 1981
Georgia Tech - 1922
Nebraska - 1915
Penn State - 1913
Clemson - 1977

Air Force - 1964
Ohio State - 1935

In the below excerpt from The Official Football Review, Season of ‘27, we’ll look back at the first game between the University of Notre Dame and the Naval Academy.

The Beloved Leader

The memory of George Gipp is the sacred heirloom of the Notre Dame man. About the memory of the immortal captain has grown a halo of tradition that is Notre Dame’s most cherished possession. Enshrined in the hearts of the men of Notre Dame is the vital memory of their leader. Today George Gipp lives for the Notre Dame man as truly as he did when his “flying cleats” made immortal history on Cartier Field. The 1927 Football Review is dedicated to George Gipp, athlete, scholar and hero, in the hope that it may provide some slight expression of the love which Notre Dame men cherish for their star of stars.

Notre Dame 19 - Navy 6

They used to call him General Rockne, but it’s Admiral Rockne from now on. Admiral Rockne brought his small fleet of Cruisers to Baltimore, the home port of the Navy, and despite the presence of many of Uncle Sam’s greatest strategists succeeded in out-maneuvering the Naval Fleet.

The contest was more even than the score indicates. The midshipmen were leading the Fighting Irish by a score of 6 to 0 at the end of the first half, and at no time was Notre Dame absolutely sure of victory.

Rock started the second team, and the future admirals promptly pushed over a touchdown after a splendid march from midfield. The regulars were then pressed into action, but the Navy held them in check for the rest of the half.

In the third quarter Frederick broke through the line, blocked the kick, and cut down Lloyd as the latter started to recover the ball which was bounding back down the field. The ever alert Chile Walsh scooped up the ball, and raced across the goal line, tying the score.

Chris Flanagan then started to function, and ran the Navy ends ragged bringing the ball to the Navy’s goal line. Charley Riley made a few mysterious passes with the ball; finally taking it himself and scooting around right end for Notre Dame’s second score.

Chris retired from the game and Niemiec replaced him. The midshipmen were surprised to find that Niemiec was the equal of Flanagan and had the same peculiar knack of shaking off ambitious tacklers and sprinting for long gains. Late in the fourth quarter he passed thirty yards to Chile Walsh, and on the next play smashed through tackle for the last Irish touchdown of the day.

The battle was a magnificent clash, courageously fought between two evenly matched elevens. Both teams were possessed of powerful lines and strong backfields. Both were well fortified with practically the same type of offense, the aerial game and wide flank sweeps.

Riley’s cunning and the well drilled Notre Dame team were too much for the Navy, and they were at sea most of the afternoon. Navy backs found the Notre Dame line impenetrable; and with Miller, Smith, Fredericks and Poliskey breaking through on defense the Navy backs had a busy afternoon.

Notre Dame was far superior to the Navy in every department of the game and illustrated the old maxim that “a good team makes its own breaks.” There was precision in Notre Dame’s attack. Eleven men moved as one, and the blocking and tackling was extremely accurate.

The game was hard fought but clean from the kickoff to the last play. This was Notre Dame’s first game with the Naval Academy, and Irish supporters arce confident that the same cordial relations that have existed between the Army and Notre Dame will exist with the other branch of the service.

Next week ... Purdue!

Cheers & GO IRISH!