The spartan legions of Michigan State invaded Ann Arbor last Saturday with all the ferocity of the ancient conquerors of Doris and Laconia. They struck quickly and powerfully. When it was over, the defending forces of the University of Michigan, which had been ranked sixth in the nation by the Associated Press poll, lay smitten 35-6, their worst beating in 22 years. Michigan State thus established itself as the only football power to be spoken of in the same breath with Oklahoma.
There was glory in football, too, last weekend, and a 19-year-old lad from Poughkeepsie, N.Y. received a lion's share of it. He was Montfort Stickles, who made the Army-Notre Dame game the most exciting of the season by kicking a 28-yard field goal with six minutes to go to give Notre Dame a nerve-pricking 23-21 victory.
The kick was the climactic moment for the 95,000 frenzied spectators in Philadelphia's Municipal Stadium. They had been on tiptoe since the beginning of the fourth period when Notre Dame's comeback was frustrated by this same Monty Stickles. He had missed the vital try for the extra point which would have tied the score at 21-21, and he had missed it at point-blank range.
His miracle from 28 yards out—and miracle it was, for he had never before attempted a field goal—was too much for taut nerves. Pandemonium broke loose. After the pandemonium the miracle was explained by Stickles:
October 20, 1957
"What happened was this," he said. "We took a time-out. It was fourth down and we had about eight to go for the first. I was resting and Bronk Nagurski—I think it was Bronk—came into the game. He comes up to me and he says, 'Coach says kick a field goal.' He gave me the kicking tee, then he says, 'Coach says keep your head down.' I didn't feel nervous or anything, even after missing the third conversion—the one that would have tied the score. I was just overconfident on that one. Well, the ball comes back, and Williams sets it up nice and fast and I boot it. The angle was good and the ball just made the right side of the crossbar by about three or four feet. Thing that bothered me was I didn't think those goal posts were wide enough. No kidding, looked real narrow. Somebody goofed."
Stickles, a bull-like 6-foot 4-inch, 220 pounder, held his head back and pressed a handkerchief to his nose. He talked to the ceiling. "Caught an elbow. Won't stop bleeding."
Presently he lowered his gaze.
"It's a funny thing, me kicking that field goal. First place, I never kicked one before. Second place, it was that boot that beat Army and I almost went to West Point. Yep, Coach Blaik had me up there several times looking the place over. I wanted to go there, too. I grew up about 20 miles away and I always liked the Point. They wouldn't take me, though. I couldn't pass the physical. Bad eyes, they said. Well, I guess I could see pretty good today, huh?"
His father, Montfort Sr., stalked in. They shook hands. "When I saw you were going to try the field goal," he said, "I said to your mother, he's going to be a hero or a bum."
He smiled, turned to the other players and said:
"Know what his mother did? She pulled out her beads and started saying the Rosary. Me, I held onto the rail so tight I must have dented the bar."
Aubrey Lewis, Notre Dame's first-string halfback, had been left behind at South Bend with an injured ankle. He showed up in the locker room Saturday morning with a big grin on his face. "Hi, coach," he said to flabbergasted Terry Brennan. "Mind if I suit up?" He had paid his own fare. "I got to thinking about the game," he explained. "I just couldn't miss it and I wanted to suit up. I had to put on someone else's jersey; they didn't even bring mine."
He was all smiles in the jubilant Irish dressing room after the game, just as thrilled with the victory as if he had taken a personal part in it.
"Oh, you should have seen Brennan when Monty kicked that ball," cried Lewis. "He took that hat of his and tried to pull it over his ears. Then comes the big grin. The big, big grin and when you see that guy smile like that you know you won the game.
"We wanted to win this one," said Lewis, "but the one we really want is Oklahoma. We're gonna stop them, too. We can do it, you'll see."
The team physician, Dr. George Green, was, if anything, more thrilled with the Irish victory than the players.
Dr. Green went over to maul young Nick Pietrosante, the Notre Dame fullback. The sportswriters covering the game had just voted Nick the Grantland Rice award as the game's most valuable player for scoring two touchdowns. His second, a 65-yard run, provided the lift that put the Irish back in the ball game when Army led 21-7 and seemed to have them in a hopeless hole.
"The first 50 yards, I felt good," Pietrosante said, grinning. "Then, all of a sudden, I was out of gas and looking for the end zone. Was I glad to get home!"
Mechanically, resolutely and a bit tiredly, Blaik made his terse comment:
"If you don't have the depth," he sighed, "you don't have the depth."
That was a point more than amply proved by Michigan State in its lopsided victory over Michigan. Coach Duffy Daugherty of MSU fielded a fine first team. It was quick. It was big and strong. It was resourceful when the still fresh forces of Michigan seemed about to contain it during the first half. It was intelligently run by Quarterback Jim Ninowski. It had a standout runner with tremendous speed and drive in Halfback Walt Kowalczyk, who might have looked even better if his teammates had not all been of such a very high standard themselves. But in the early part of the game, Michigan had moments when it seemed to have about the same qualities—plus an almost exactly similar version of the multiple offense.
The difference in the teams became apparent when the substitutes appeared. In the case of Michigan State the difference between the first and second—and even third—units was scarcely visible, particularly as Michigan began to wilt under such an overwhelming power in both numbers and ability. Nowhere else in college football except at Oklahoma does this same strength in depth exist.
CAMERAS, PLAYERS HIT THEIR STRIDE
ONE BY LAND: The athletes who execute the plays and the photographers who arrest them on film were in top form for football's fourth week. Here both cooperate to show the reader how touchdowns are made. Two vicious line blocks clear path for Iowa Halfback Bill Gravel (14) on 11-yard touchdown run against Indiana. The Iowa ends (88 and 89) and tackle (77) are moving down to take out the two halfbacks who are the only Hoosiers in position to stop the touchdown. Iowa won 47-7.
ONE BY AIR: Oklahoma (in white), a team that usually can spot a phony a mile away, got fooled this time. When Texas faked a run for the goal in the first quarter (bottom left of photo) it worked so well that Walt Fondron (24), Longhorn quarterback found two receivers in the clear. He tossed to End Monte Lee (86) for the game's first score. Oklahoma won 21-7.
SLIPPERY: Tailback Don Long of UCLA feints a tackier out of position with the kind of motion that inspired the term "swivel hips." On this one-yard TD dash Long outran Washington's Dave Enslow (65), scoring team's first score in 19-0 victory.
TRICKERY: Iowa State, in its 21-6 victory over Kansas, shows in this pass play the intricacies of balanced-line single wing. Guards (62 and 63) pull out, but instead of leading interference with blocking back (center) they protect passer, Dwight Nichols (16), who takes handoff from Tailback Terry Ingram (17). Ends and wingback (bottom) start down field to receive.