Army Navy 1950
Over recent years Navy has dominated the series with Army winning the last 13 games in a row. This year’s game has the Midshipmen (9-2) listed as anywhere between a 21 and 23 point favorite over the Black Knights (2-9). Needless to say with history and the odds makers on Navy’s side there is not much hope for Army this Saturday in Philadelphia.
Sixty-five years ago the annual clash between the two service academies had a similar tone. Army had a 5-0-1 record over Navy in the previous six meetings. The 1950 Army team was undefeated, second ranked, had a 28 game unbeaten streak and was taking on a 2-6 Navy team under first year head coach Eddie Erdelatz. Coach Earl Blaik’s Black Knights of the Hudson were a 21-point favorite.
Sitting among the 101,000 spectators was President Harry Truman. Like today, security was high as an assassination attempt against the President was thwarted just three weeks ago and five months previously we had entered into a war in Korea. Truman would sit on the Navy sidelines for the first half and then travel to the Army side for the second half.
The game began as most would have expected. When Navy punter Bob Cameron was rushed hard he ran to escape the rush and was downed on his own nine yard line. But the Middie defenders not only held but they pushed Army back to the 16-yard line and regained possession. Navy gave Army two other scoring chances when they fumbled at their own 22 and were intercepted at the Army 43. But using a variety of defensive sets, Navy held Army each time and allowed only one first down and an incredible three yards of total offenses in the opening half of play.
On offense, Navy was led by quarterback Bob Zastrow. When Army fumbled on their own 27, he led the Middies on a quick four-play touchdown drive with Zastrow running it in from the five. When Roger Drew kicked the extra point Navy led 7-0. With two minutes left in the half, Navy took possession and went 63 yards in five plays for another touchdown. The big plays were a reverse that went for 22 yards and a Zastrow to Jim Baldinger 30 yard pass. The end made a leaping end zone catch for a the score and a 14-0 lead.
In the second half, Army’s defense threw Zastrow back and tackled him in the end zone for a safety. But like the first half, the Middie defense would not break in the final two quarters. In the third quarter they recovered two Army fumbles inside their ten yard line stopping drives. In the fourth quarter they stopped one drive on downs at their own 21 and intercepted three passes at the 17, eight and three yard lines. The final pick came on the last play of the game. When Bill Gursky returned the ball to midfield he was greeted by thousands of Middies who had come onto the field at the final gun.