From "Out of
Captain Adam Walsh, comedian Snub Pollard and
The Four Horsemen: Harry Stuhldreher,
Don Miller, Jim Crowley and Elmer Layden. A more famous backfield never played the game of
football. Together they won thirty games, lost two; in 1924 they set the glorious
precedent of rough-riding over everyone to give Notre Dame its first national
Speed, agility, rhythm and deception - these were their weapons.
Witness how the Horsemen scored their first touchdown.
It was third down and five yards to go for the score. On the sidelines, Knute Rockne was
certain it was fourth down. He signalled for a surprising pass.
Quarterback Harry Stuhldreher nodded. Who was he to contradict the great Rockne.
Stuhldreher waited until the teams lined up before he remembered Rockne's rule #6 for
quarterbacks: "Be boss on offense; you run the team." Rockne or no, Stuhldreher
decided to audible a new play, something more appropriate for third down.
As Stuhldreher rattled off the first sequence of numbers, his team shifted. The defense
was caught off guard. The right play would bring a score, and Stuhldreher called for that
play, barking out the signals for a fullback buck.
This was big news to Elmer Layden, the fullback.
Elmer was just catching onto the change in plans when the ball was hiked, banged off his
knee, and ricocheted twenty feet into the end zone. George Vergara fell on it for the
Maybe the crowd had been chanting, "We Kneed a Touchdown!"
Knute Rockne drove a Studebaker. His maid
drove a Cadillac. Somewhere, Karl Marx is smiling.
One cold and windy South Bend night, miles
from Notre Dame, Sleepy Jim Crowley turned a corner and ran smack into the Prefect of
Discipline. The priest testily checked his watch. "Crowley," he snapped,
"you have three minutes to get back to campus before curfew."
Crowley wetted an index finger and held it aloft. "Don't think I can make it,
Father," he deadpanned. "Not against this wind."
The 1925 Rose Bowl was one of those odd
contests in which the offensive leader winds up on the wrong end of the final score.
Stanford beat Notre Dame in first downs, seventeen to seven, and in yards gained, 298 to
179. Only in points scored did the Irish come out on top. The lopsided stats made Stanford
the game's real victor, someone suggested.
"Sure," answered Sleepy Jim Crowley, "and next year the major leagues will
start awarding baseball games to the team with the most men left on base."
Stanford adherents still claim that the
turning point of the game came when Cardinal fullback Ernie Nevers was stopped short of
the goal line after a desparate fourth down plunge. According to this tired alibi, Nevers
undoubtably scored the touchdown, but the @#%*! referee incorrectly spotted the ball eight
inches from paydirt.
"I had great seats," a man in a bar fumed some years later. "I seen the
whole thing. We got cheated. Nevers was in the endzone."
"He was not, " came a voice from the other end of the bar."
"Oh yeah? Where were you sitting?"
"I'm Harry Stuhldreher," said the voice. "I was sitting on Nevers'
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