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Throwback Thursday: Notre Dame Football Firsts - Miami, 1955

Miami Swallowed-Up

Football Players Running with the Ball
Miami, Florida: This was the scene in the Orange Bowl tonight at the Miami U. Hurricanes met the Notre Dame Irish football squad, before a record crowd of over 75,000 people. Early in the 2nd quarter, N.D. scored on a pass from the 11 yard line set up by the running of their (23) Aubery Lewis, shown here after gaining 12 yards on Tackee Smash. (October 07, 1955)

My off-season series of “Notre Dame Football Firsts” continues this week with the first meeting between Notre Dame and Miami, 1955

So far I’ve covered USC, Stanford, Navy, Purdue, the first Spring Game at Notre Dame, Michigan State, Pitt, Army, Northwestern, Michigan, and Boston College. This week I’m going to take a look back at Notre Dame’s first matchup against Miami in 1955.

Notre Dame and Miami (FL) have played each other 26 times, with Notre Dame winning 17, Miami winning 8, and one tie. The largest margin of victory for Notre Dame was 44-0 in 1973, and the largest margin of victory for Miami was 58-7 in 1985. Notre Dame’s longest win streak is 11 (1967-1980), and Miami’s longest win streak is 4 (1983-1987). The two teams played for the first time on October 7th, 1955, in Miami, Florida, and Notre Dame won by a score of 14-0.

Here’s an excerpt from the December 2nd, 1955, Scholastic, Notre Dame Football Review, written by Bob O’Malley.

Miami Swallowed-Up

Miami, Fla., Oct.7—The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame finally came of age tonight against a Miami football team which was outplayed, to be sure, but was mainly overrated, outfought, and barely able to stumble off the gridiron after a 14-0 pasting from the Irish.

The fourteen point spread does not truly represent the difference between these two football teams. The Miamians appeared to be somewhat frightened at the prospect of battling what they evidently considered to be a gang of veritable supermen. The Hurricanes were inept when they could least afford to be.

A couple of touchdown passes by a cool-headed Paul Hornung spelled the difference on this warm night in Miami’s Orange Bowl before 75,685 customers. On the second play of the second quarter, right halfback Jim Morse and right end Gene Kapish combined to out-maneuver the left side of the Miami defensive secondary and Hornung sailed an 11-yard scoring aerial into the arms of Kapish, who was lurking unprotected in the middle of the Miami end zone.

Midway in the third period, with Notre Dame still leading 7-0 and apparently stalled on fourth down and nine on the Miami 32, Hornung fooled Miami with a nifty pass to halfback Aubrey Lewis, who made a commendable reception on the five and lurched into the end zone for Notre Dame’s second and final touchdown, excepting a 65- yard interception runback by Jim Morse which was nullified by a penalty.

Notre Dame Fullback Don Schaefer was the outstanding ball-carrier on the field with a total gain of 69 yards on 17 carries. In addition, Schaefer turned in his usual brilliant but unspectacular game as a blocker and linebacker and kicked both extra points for the Irish.

Despite the considerable heroics of the Notre Dame backfield corps, the Irish victory was achieved only through a bit of stellar line play by the Notre Dame forward wall, a tremendously effective unit on this balmy night. Three times the Notre Dame forwards stopped Miami thrusts within their own 15 yard line, once on the 13, the eleven, and finally the two yard line. The chief engineer of this seven man wrecking crew was a stubby guard by the name of Pat Bisceglia, who generally backed up the right side of the line and allowed none to pass, friend or foe.

The Hurricanes averaged a little better than two yards per carry on their abortive rushing attempts and their top ball-carrier was fullback Paul Hefti who wandered through the Irish defenses for a harmless total of 40 yards.

The Irish, in quest of their third successive win, were off to an inauspicious beginning. On the first series of downs, Paul Hornung’s kick was blocked and the Hurricanes drove nicely to the Irish 13 before losing the ball on downs.

After an exchange of fumbles and punts, Notre Dame’s first scoring foray began in the final moments of the first quarter and continued until Hornung’s initial touchdown pass to Kapish early in the second quarter.

Miami continued to pester the Irish with passes through the remainder of the first half but a sustained drive was beyond their means.

After a few sallies back and forth in the third period, Notre Dame Capt. Ray Lemek pounced on an enemy fumble on Miami’s 33 and four plays later the Irish had their second tally on Lewis’ 32-yard pass reception.

Neither team disturbed the scoreboard operators in the fourth period, although the Irish continually hampered themselves with penalties, which choked off whatever drives they managed to get under way.

Next up ... Notre Dame vs Florida State, 1981.

Cheers & GO IRISH!