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Throwback Thursday: Notre Dame Football Firsts - Air Force 1964

Flyin’ High

Notre Dame QB Johnny Huarte
College Football: Notre Dame QB Johnny Huarte (7) on field during game. CREDIT: George Long (Photo by George Long /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)
Set Number: X10426 R14 F27

My off-season series of “Notre Dame Football Firsts” continues this week with the first meeting between Notre Dame and the Air Force Academy, 1964.

So far I’ve covered USC, Stanford, Navy, Purdue, the first Spring Game at Notre Dame, Michigan State, Pitt, Army, Michigan, Boston College, Miami, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Nebraska, Penn State, and Clemson. This week I’m going to take a look back at Notre Dame’s first matchup against Air Force in 1964.

Notre Dame and the Air Force Academy have played each other a total of 29 times with Notre Dame winning 23 games, and Air Force winning 6 games. Notre Dame’s largest margin of victory was 49-0 in 1977, and Air Force’s largest margin of victory was 41-24 in 2007. Notre Dame’s longest winning streak is 11, from 1964-1981, and Air Force’s longest winning streak is 4, from 1982-1985. The current win streak is one, for Notre Dame. Notre Dame has 938 overall wins to Air Force’s 424. Notre Dame has played in 39 bowl games, with a win record of 19-20-0 (.487); and Air Force has played in 29 bowl games, with a win record of 15-13-1 (.534). The two teams played for the first time on October 10, 1964, at the Air Force Academy, and Notre Dame won by score of 34-7.

The following excerpt from the 1964 matchup between Notre Dame and the Air Force Academy is from the 1964 Notre Dame Football Review, written by Rex Lardner.

Flyin’ High

Colorado Springs, Colo., Oct. 10 — Led by the superb passing and running of quarterback John Huarte, who accounted for four touchdowns, Notre Dame won their third straight game by defeating the Air Force Academy, 34-7. Over 650 Irish students, enjoying the annual student trip, witnessed the massacre in Sunny Falcon Stadium.

Quarterback Huarte ran for scores of one and five yards and passed for two touchdowns to Bill Wolski and Jack Snow. Defensively, the Irish limited the Academy to 38 yards on the ground, 123 in the air. Falcon signal caller Tim Murphy could only muster one completion in the second half. He hit on 10 of 15 in the first thirty minutes.

On Notre Dame’s third play of the game, a Huarte pass was intercepted by Falcon defensive back Jeff Jarvis, and returned 25 yards for the Academy’s only touchdown. Behind 7-0, Huarte went to work.

Three successive plunges tightened up the Falcon defense. Huarte then handed off to Nick Eddy who twisted and turned around right end for a touchdown. Ken Ivan’s conversion made it a 7-7 deadlock.

After a Falcon punt, the Irish began rolling again. Wolski banged off tackle for five. Farrell hit left guard for six. Huarte then rifled a bullet to Snow for a first down on the Falcon 7. Three plunges over center netted two yards. On fourth and goal at the five, Huarte faked to Farrell off right tackle, delayed a count by hiding the ball behind his back and trotted around right end for the score. His ball-handling faked out many a cameraman and broadcaster, as well as the entire Falcon defense. At half time, Notre Dame led, 14-7.

In the middle of the third quarter, Huarte started another drive. He fired a 13-yard pass to Snow for a first down at the Academy 37. Eddy circled left end (see cut) for 12 on fine blocks by guards John Atamian and Dick Arrington. Huarte then kept for six, Eddy lost eight after fumbling a lateral, but Wolski smashed his way off tackle to the Falcon 5. An illegal procedure penalty nullified the run. On the next play, flanker back Wolski faked to the middle and cut to the outside to receive a Huarte pass for 19 yards and six points. With 4:50 remaining in the period, Notre Dame led, 21-7.

The Irish defensive secondary then went to work. Four-Star General Tony Carey speared a Murphy pass and weaved his way 22 yards to the Academy 9-yard line. Three plunges by Joe Farrell netted 8 yards. On fourth and one, Huarte sneaked over for his second touchdown.

The same series repeated itself on the next play. This time safetyman Nick Rassas picked off a Falcon aerial, and returned it to the 7. After Eddy failed to gain, Huarte faked to Wolski up the middle, and rolled out to his right, firing his second scoring strike to Snow. Although approximately seven minutes remained, this concluded the scoring for the afternoon.

The Notre Dame defense kept possession of its number-one rushing defense ranking by limiting the Falcon ball carriers to 38 yards. Murphy was thrown for a net loss of 11 yards.

Offensively, Bill Wolski led the Irish in rushing for the third straight week with 83 yards in 14 attempts. John Huarte hit on 7 of 15 passes while fellow-Californian Jack Snow caught five passes.

In the locker room, writers of all sorts were baiting Coach Parseghian into long-range predictions. He had only one comment: “Right now we’re looking to next week and UCLA.”

Next week will be the last week of this series, in which I will look at the first meeting between Notre Dame and Ohio State in 1935.

Cheers & GO IRISH!