November 3, 1945 - The Only Tie Verse Navy

By Olson


The 1945 Notre Dame-Navy game was probably the strangest game in the series.

Among the reasons were the rosters - who played for which team; the 'incident' regarding ND back Elmer Angsman; and the controversial final moments.

The War had ended a few months before this game, but the rosters of both teams still reflected Wartime transfers.

Many great Notre Dame players were still in the service - most would return the following season.

Former Notre Dame football players HB-K Fred Earley and HB Bob Kelly played for Navy that afternoon in 1945. Bob Van Summern played HB for ND - the next season in '46 Bob played for Navy, & still later he finished his career with 2 seasons at Michigan.

A note here: the official Navy site also mentioned that Navy all-time great AA G Jim Carrington was a ND transfer but I have found no other proof that Carrington ever attended ND (besides that Navy article states incorrectly that Earley and Kelly's transfer occurried in '44-wrong, it '45-which makes me question the Carrington info too).

Early in the contest, ND fullback Elmer Angsman was hit in the mouth by Navy LB Dick Scott. The Navy Lber hit Elmer with a forearm that was covered by a cast (and it wasn't a soft cast as required today). Further, it was rumored after the fact that Scott had something 'extra' hidden underneath the cast to make it more lethal.

Regardless, as a result of the hit Angsman lost 9 of his teeth (later expanded to 11 or 16 teeth depending on who retold the story). Whatever the final number, Elmer also required 26 stitches for his lacerated mouth.

What was most amazing was that Elmer continued to play the rest of the afternoon (remember this occurred in the 1st Q). Angsman played a total of 54 minutes (out of 60) with gauze stuffed in his mouth to control the bleeding.

An aside here, Elmer then played 55 minutes the next game vs Army-a game he was expected to miss because of the horrible injury!

The next season's 1946 Street & Smith College Annual referred to Dick Scott as 'the teeth jarring' LBer.

Back to the game. ND scored to take a 6-0 lead on a TD by Frank Ruggerio (a transfer from Holy Cross). Ruggerio had set up the TD with an interception. The extra point was blocked.

A Navy player named Clyde 'Smackover' Scott (not the Scott who hit Elmer) intercepted a pass and returned it for a TD in the 3rd Q. Former ND player Fred Earley lined up for the all important XP - he missed it (see more on Earley at the bottom of the post). 6-6 tie

Later in the game, Irish substitute QB George Ratterman hit Bill Leonard (later head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers) with a 54 yd pass to the Midshipman 18.

First string QB Boley Dancewicz returned for the next play and hit Frosh HB Phil Colella who took the ball across the goal line (maybe) only to be yanked back to the half yard line by a Navy defender. Colella's feet ended up in the end zone but the ball was at the half yard line. One official signaled TD. The officials huddled (for what seemed like 5 minutes to an observer). They placed the ball at the half yard line-no TD.

ND had time to run two sneaks by QB Dancewicz. ND fans thought Boley scored on one of those sneaks but there was no TD signal.

Time ran out with ND on the half foot line-the game ended a 6-6 tie.

About some of the players:

  • Fred Earley K - HB had come to ND in 1943 from Parkersburg W Va. Fred had been named on of the top eleven HS players in the Country by the NY Downtown Athletic Club.

    Earley returned to ND in 1946 after his one year stay at the Naval Academy. With ND on the Army four yd line (4th down) in that famous 0-0 tie, Coach Leahy turned to Early and asked if Fred could make a FG? Early responded 'yes sir-it's just like an extra point' and put his helmet on to go in. Leahy turned away, saying 'that's only 3 points. It won't be enough in this game-we need six.' (or so the legend goes)

  • Don McAuliffe was a frosh at ND in 1945. He had dropped out of school prior to this game and had joined the Navy. After a few years in the Navy, Don got an appointment at the Naval Academy and played Plebe football in 1948. McAuliffe attempted to transfer back to ND in 1949 but was turned down. ND had instituted a policy of 'no transfers'.

    McAuliffe (former ND and Navy player) went to Michigan St and beat ND all three times he played against the Irish.

  • Bob Kelly- a highly recruited HB from Chicago Leo, played at ND in 43 and 44 & at Navy in '45. Kelly returned to ND in '46 but quit school during the football season and took a commission in the Army. Kelly was drafted by the NFL none the less and played 3 seasons of Pro football.

  • Bob Van Summern - from Stamford, CT Bob played at 3 schools (ND, Navy and Michigan). Later in life Van Summern was named the President of the TD Club of NY. He also became a famous Architect and moved to Wilton,Ct. I also lived many years in Wilton (never met Bob). Among the buildings that Van Summern designed was my Parish church (I assume his too)-Our Lady of Fatima in Wilton




Keywords: football, navy, world war ii, elmer angsman, fred earley, bob kelly, bob van summern, frank ruggerio, holy cross, george ratterman, bill leonard, boley dancewicz, phil colella, frank leahy, army, don mcauliffe

Posted On: 2013-11-20 00:15:06 by Olson

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