Army vs Duke, 1953

One of the truly great Army Football games in the 1950s occured in 1953 when Army hosted the Duke Blue Devils from Durham, NC. Army was in the process of rebounding from the disastrous cribbing scandal that had rocked the academy and its football program two years earlier.

Duke was a powerhouse that year and were favored to beat the upstart Cadets by four touchdowns but what happened that afternoon in that old ballpark will never be forgotten by all those fans of the Army team. For those not in attendance that day but were fortunate enough to listen to the national radio hookup, you heard the voice of the legendary play-by-play announcer, Ted Husing with analysis by the future NBA commissioner, J. Walter Kennedy on the Army Football Network. It was one of Teds last great game calls before his retirement from broadcasting that season and his death shortly thereafter from cancer.


Cadets Magnificent in 14-13 Victory Over Blue Devils

                             Duke     Army    
    First downs               16       13
    Rushing yardage          243      188  
    Passing yardage          102       65                       
    Passes attempted          23       11 
    Passes completed           7        3
    Passes intercepted by      0        1
    Punts                      4        7 
    Punting average           38       39
    Fumbles lost               2        3
    Yards Penalized           45       45

Newark Evening News, Newark, NJ

NEW YORK-- (The Polo Grounds) October 18, 1953 -Army's resurgent football forces gained their most significant victory yesterday since they started the comeback trail in 1951 by upsetting un- defeated Duke, 14-13, in a tense thriller that kept a Polo Grounds crowd of 21,284 in a turmoil and excitement until the very last second.

Entering the final quarter holding their one point lead, the Cadets fought off grinding Blue Devil power throughout the whole period in a series of dramatic stands. The climax came when Army hurled back four Duke ground plays inside the 7-yard line after the Southerner's Red Smith had raced 73 yards on a wild double reverse. Half a minute remained when Army took over with the ball less than a foot short of the goal line, time enough for Fred Attaya to punt out to his 37 and Duke to try four long desperation passes that were all knocked down by the alert Cadet secondary. At the final whistle, the entire corps of Cadets surged onto the field to mob the team, even en- gulfing frustrated Duke players in the melee.

After halting a Duke threat on the Army 20, Attaya and Tom Bell made the key gains, none over 17 yards, and Bell made the score, slash- ing eight yards on first down between Duke's heralded All- Americans, Country Meadows and Bobby Burrows.

Later in the quarter, Duke, set back to its seven by a clipping penalty after Attaya's quick kick, a weapon Army used often, started its long march. Key hero in the group the happy men in gray hoisted to their shoulders was Bob Mischak of Union, NJ. It was Mischak, racing from the opposite flank from the end Smith turned on his 73-yard dash, who made the game-saving tackle. When Smith broke into the clear just past midfield, he had atmost 10 yards on the pur- suing Mischak, but the Jerseyman desperation into his long strides, pounced on the flying Blue Devil's back at the 10. They ended in a sprawled heap on the 7. Army made its great stand.

It was a game that never ceased being fast, interesting and well- played. Army scored first on a 10-play, 76-yard march in the first period. Duke tied it up early in the second, by going 93 yards in 12, but Army led 14-7 at the half. Ralph Chesanauskas made both Army conversions but Smith missed his try when Duke scored in the third quarter and Army had its victory margin.

The early marches produced the usual sight of Army going well on the ground against an eight man Duke line, while the Blue Devils made their big yardage through the air even though Army's defense was 5-3-3 or 5-4-2. With Jerry Hagan whipping the team to a fine peak of efficiency from his quarterback spot in Coach Red Blaik's modified split attack, Army chewed all 76 yards on the ground for its first score without even faking well in the air. When the quarter changed, Blaik sent in an entire sub team, and it was weak on pass-defense, giving up 71 aerial yards to Duke QB Worth (a million) Lutz.

To end it, Lutz hit Bob Pascal of Bloomfield on the Army three with a 20-yard toss and then sneaked the ball over on first down.

Just before half time Army broke quickly from its 42 to go all the way on three plays. Vann, with his passing arm hampered by a Duke lineman, switched the ball to his left and pushed a short pass to Attaya for a 20-yard gain. Then he passed out to Pat Uebel on the right flat and the big soph half went 40 yards down the sideline to score. It was a brilliant piece of running, in which he set up and then used a nice block by Mike Zeigler to spring clear.

Army Spirit

Indicative of the spirit in Army's play, Uebel tore down under the kick-off and made a smashing tackle. All hands hit that way for Army all day.

Duke's rugged split-T finally got in gear in the third period. The Devils went from their 20 to Army's 26 on the ground, lost the ball on a fumble, got it back three plays later the same way, and took five more plays to go 29 yards to a score. Lutz made this one too, setting it up with a 20-yard keep play and burrowing the last four yards on another. He fumbled the ball as he neared the goal line but caught it again in mid-air as he fell into the end zone.

Army Halts Offensive

The scoring was over, but not the thrills. Amy gave Duke the ball with a quick kick after the kick-off, gambling to wear the Devil ground game out, and the strategy succeed, by 10 inches. Duke stormed to the Army 35 and 15 only to give the ball up on downs. Army then controlled the ball for a 63-yard march to Duke's 20. The Duke eight-man line, with no linebackers behind it, was being split for short gains on quick-openers but tightened on its 20 to set the stage for the stirring finale.

Smith seemed trapped at the start of his long run but cut back and broke through the middle. It looked like curtains for Army until Mischak steamed up out of nowhere to make his tackle. In the four plays that followed, Lutz three times tried sneaks but his last ended in a great pileup with his motion stopped in mid-air inches short.

    LE--Sorrell, Moon, Kocourek.
    LT-Meadows, Campbell. 
    LG-Burrows, Logan, Rose.    
    C-Palmer, Knotts, Falls.
    RT-Birchfield, Fesperman,
    RE-Pitt, Hands.
    LH-Caudle. McKeithan, Pascal, Stallings.
    RH-Red Smith, Boyd. 
    FB-Nistler. Aldridge.
    LE-Mischak, Ordway, Lapchick. 
    OneLT-Melnik, Glock.
    LG-Ziegler, Lunn, Franklin.
    C- Stephen, Lasley, Kramer.
    RG- Chesnauskas, Bruno.
    RT-Farris, Krause, Sullivan.
    RE--Sisson, Holleder.
    Q-Vann, Hagan.
    RH-Bell, M. Zeigier.
    FB-Attaya, Lodge.

    Duke             0   7    6    0--- 13
    Army             7   7    0    0--- 14

    Duke--Touchdowns:  Lutz  2   Conversion:  Smith.
    Army-- Touchdowns:  Bell, Uebel  Conversions: 
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