1922 Notre Dame-Nebraska football: Walter Eckersall’s game report
It wasn’t unusual for Walter Eckersall to pull double duty as referee and sportswriter on game day, and that’s what he did when Notre Dame and Nebraska played in Lincoln on Thanksgiving Day of 1922. Here is his game story, which was published in a number of newspapers across the country. The headlines and text below are from the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock. A few misspelled names have been corrected and obvious factual errors noted. | Game page
NEBRASKA WINNER OVER NOTRE DAME
Plunging Cornhuskers Defeat the Touted Forward Passers, 14 to 6.
By WALTER ECKERSALL
(Chicago Tribune-New York Times Special to the Gazette)
Lincoln, Neb., Nov. 30. — In a terrific battle featured by the line smashing of the winners and the forward passing of the losers, Nebraska defeated Notre Dame here today before 15,000 enthusiastic gridiron fans, 14 to 6.
It was a contest which kept the largest crowd which ever saw a game in the state on its feet continually, cheering frantically for Captain Hartley and his Nebraska warriors to stop the overhead attack of the Hoosiers in the second half. In this style of play Notre Dame had a decided advantage, while the Cornhuskers were the best at line plunging and driving off the tackles.
The teams played the direct opposite of football. Nebraska backs, working behind a ponderous and aggressive line, tore the Notre Dame forward wall to bits in the first half, when the locals did all their scoring. Try as they might, the Hooslers could not check the drives of Captain Hartley and Noble, while Quarterback Russell walked through the center of the Notre Dame line whenever a short yardage was needed for first down.
In the second half, however, Notre Dame opened up with an aerial attack which for a time made the situation look dangerous for the Huskers. Captain Carberry and his Notre Dame warriors, with everything to win and nothing to lose, threw the ball to all corners of the field in the third period. The eligible players jumped high in the air and caught the ball on their finger tips. Nebraska appeared powerless to stop the attack, but at times when the situation looked bright, passes were either intercepted or the ball fumbled.
Are Real Champions.
Nebraska showed beyond question it is entitled to the undisputed championship of the Missouri Valley Conference. It is a powerful aggregation, and after seeing it in action it is hard to figure how the team fell before Syracuse in the only game it has lost this season. The backs drove with power, and the line gave the ball carriers the necessary support, especially in the first half.
The team plainly showed the results of expert coaching by Fred Dawson, former Princeton player. The locals blocked faultlessly in the opening periods, and tackled in deadly fashion. Time after time Nebraska linesman charged through and smashed Notre Dame players before they had reached the scrimmage line. Captain Hartley and Weller, the tackle, are two excellent players who are entitled to consideration for any honorary selections.
Some of the Nebraska plays were sprung behind unbalanced lines, while others were set in motion from a plain backfield shift with the runner being sent back on the weak side occasionally. The backs drove with terrific power, and at times dove over the line to make the necessary yardage. As a general rule, the linesmen opened the holes and blocked the Notre Dame forwards in excellent fashion.
Shortly after the first kickoff Nebraska got possession of the ball on its 40-yard line, and gave a remarkable exhibition of offensive play by use of straight plays. The Cornhuskers took the ball to the Notre Dame one-foot line. On a fourth down the ball was fumbled, and a Nebraska man recovered it, but the ball went to Notre Dame on downs.
Nebraska was not to be denied, and in the second quarter started another march, which resulted in Hartley driving through the center of the Notre Dame line for a touchdown. Captain Hartley kicked the goal, and the Cornhuskers rooters went wild. After an exchange of punts* had left the ball in midfield in Nebraska’s possession late in the second half, Hartley and his men started another successful attack.
The Nebraska captain, Noble and Lewellen, drove through the Notre Dame line for consistent gains. A 15-yard penalty for hurdling set the locals back to the visitors’ 45-yard line. Hartley then uncorked a winning forward pass. The local leader started around the Notre Dame left end, and as he was about to be tackled tossed the ball to Noble. The fleet halfback then dodged and sidestepped the visitors, and ran 38 yards for a touchdown.
Hartley again kicked goal, and the half ended shortly afterward. Notre Dame came out with kindled spirits in the third quarter. The visitors depended largely upon open play and forward passes. With the ball in Notre Dame territory Layden, the Notre Dame fullback, hurled a 13-yard toss to Don Miller, and the latter ran 45 yards for a touchdown. Layden missed the goal by drop-kicking.
Begin Reckless Passing.
Not content with the score, the Hoosiers kept on trying. Every time they got possession of the oval it was thrown with reckless abandon, and the way Coach Rockne’a men pulled the ball out of the air was a revelation to close observers of football in this section.
In the last quarter Notre Dame took the ball to the locals’ 3-yard line. On a fourth down, Stuhldreher, the Notre Dame quarterback, tried a forward pass. He ran back, but the Nebraska forwards charged through in a savage manner and downed him before he had a chance to hurl the oval. This was the best chance Notre Dame had to score, although Crowley was loose for what appeared a certain touchdown a little later, but fumbled when he was momentarily checked. The game ended shortly afterward with the ball in Nebraska territory in Notre Dame’s possession.**
While great credit is due Nebraska, Coach Dawson and Captain Hartley, the fact must not be lost sight of that Notre Dame played a great uphill game, one which brought forth rounds of applause from even the staunchest Cornhusker admirers.
Among the notable guests at the game was General Pershing, who marched around the field behind the Nebraska band before the game started.
* Actually three punts and two fumbles, according to play-by-play logs.
** The Irish had two more possessions but never got beyond their own 39.