Army vs Navy, 1953

In 1957, the Army football program was again on the rise as the Black Knights swept to an impressive 7-2 record but the two losses came against Armys two biggest rivals, Notre Dame and Navy. The team was 16 points away from going undefeated that season. A 23-21 loss to the Irish in Philadelphias Municipal Stadium and a 14-0 loss to the Mids . . .

. . .to close the season in that same stadium prevented the team from going all the way that year in Blaiks next to last season before his retirement the following year when he produced his last undefeated season at West Point. Only a tie with Pitt that year marked a spectacular 8-0-1 log.

Jimmy Powers was a respected columnist of the NY Daily News in the 1950s. The following column was written by him after the loss to Navy that season of 1957. His column was appropriately called THE POWERHOUSE by Jimmy Powers----


By Jimmy Powers

Philadelphia, Nov. 30, 1957 -Ned Oldham was the hero, of course. He scored all the points. But there was more to it than that. Navy was faster, more alert and had more deception in its attack. Navy ran its play crisply and there was no question, as the game wore on, that its diversified attack was just too much for the gallant Cadets to cope with. There were a few penalties for elbowing and piling on but flareups quickly subsided as the lads settled down to their assignments.

Navy used a variety of screened pass plays most effectively. Navy's line switching constantly piled up ball carriers with almost ridiculous ease. The highly publicized Bob Anderson appeared sluggish in contrast to the speedy ends and defensive backs who hauled him down. Tom Forrestal kept the opposition off balance and Bob Reifsnyder played such an outstanding game he provoked a near riot in the final quarter when frustrated Cadets went after him with bare fists.

It was an exciting contest despite the drab, spongy, gray skies and cutting wind. And it was a delightfully colorful show to watch "live" as well as on TV.


When Navy appeared in pastel jersey and pale gold numerals, half-drowned viewers amused themselves by trying to identify the exact shade of blue. It definitely was not the familiar rich dark navy blue. It was more of a Mediterranean blue bleached to a robin's egg hue. It brought on quite a few whistles.

I had never seen a touchdown scored in the exact second that ended a quarter, but that's exactly what happened when Navy marched 72 yards in 19 plays. The play was a peculiar one. Ned Oldham lunged off right tackle as the clock registered 15:00. He appeared to be smothered by several dark shirts scrambling to snatch at him. Oldham kept his feet, pivoted like a man going beserk in a revolving door, and next we knew he was dashing upright across the goal, running well into the end zone with a powerful leg drive. The Middies immediately broke out a gaudily painted banner... "We'll beat Army black and blue in color." How right they were.

Army came blazing back with Dawkins running wild, but just inside the 10 Navy's Caldwell leaped upon a loose ball and drew it fiercely to his bosom, a timely recovery. A series of consecutive penalties caused a succession of huddles by the men in the candy-striped shirts and brought down upon their unheeding ears innumerable witticisms from the crowd.

Forrestal grew a bit reckless as halftime approached. A long pass was intercepted, but Navy's line held on the 36 and took over. Army just was riot shaking any man loose for the long gainers that had distinguished its play on this same turf against Notre Dame.

As the second quarter wore on, the sky grew darker and, off to our right, the buildings of downtown Philadelphia faded from sight. Beneath us, the gray block of Cadets sat huddled morosely in ponchos. They stirred expectantly as, with 20 seconds on the clock, Army's golden helmets conferred in a huddle resembling satellites. They whirled back to positions. A long pass was completed. Then came the letdown . . . "Illegal receiver downfield."


As the soggy athletes trotted ofF, Navy's cheering section unfurled another alliterative command . . . "Mash the Mule." One poor mule started across the green swamp. Following the urgings of its rider, it walked slowly downfield to join its assistant, another equally damp mascot.

There was a rather elaborate balf time parade of floats, faintly reminiscent of the early Pasadena or California collegiate school, then the third quarter opened. Army intercepted. a deflected pass, but again its attack fizzled. There was a rhubarb on the 4 when Anderson fumbled and had the ball stolen from him, apparently a fraction of a second after the whistle. The ball was as tenderly cared for as a baby, nursed and covered with a turkish towel.

Actually, more than a dozen balls were used, coming out of an assembly line dryer. Once, the wet ball squirted out of Harry Hurst's hands, but the Navy got it back on an interception, thereby surgically re- moving goat's horns from Mister Hurst's noodle.

Then came the cruncher. Ned Oldham took Barta's punt and made one of the prettiest broken field runbacks in the history of the series. He skidded to his right, reversed, used some tricky toe dancing and change of pace. After 44 thrilling yards, he crossed standing up, kicked the point and thus accounted for all of Navy's 14.

Oldham figured in another interception. Army made a great goal-line stand, but when the lights came on and the rain shrank away to a few drops, you could see the silhouettes of Navys third team mirrored in the great lake of water that surrounded the gridiron.

When they were whistled in, in clean dry uniforms, to share in the final glory, you knew it was all over. Top Stories