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MICHIGAN STATE 47
No. 5, the rangy boy in the green jersey, was the outstanding man on the field. He led his team with hot skill, this senior playing his last year for Notre Dame. He did everything else that could be asked of a man. He passed (for 178 yards), blocked, tackled, kicked and—toward the end—wept. It was not quite enough. Quarterback Paul Hornung's Notre Dame team, a team rich in promise and in sophomores, managed to hold Michigan State 7-7 at the half. After that it was Michigan State in a demonstration of power, wave on wave, that followers of the Spartans will long remember.
The night before the game Hornung turned in early but had a hard time getting to sleep. When sleep did come it brought a series of bad dreams and fitful awakenings dominated by a mammoth scoreboard flashing: Michigan State 21, Notre Dame 0. The reality the next day was worse than the nightmare: Michigan State 47, Notre Dame 14.
Early in the game, Hornung judged that State was vulnerable on the outside. In the huddle he told his team: "Listen you guys, if we can stay fired up, this team can be had." Stay fired up they did, and early in the second period a pair of Hornung passes took it to the eight. A few plunges later, Hornung pitched out to Halfback Frank Reynolds for the touchdown. Hornung converted.
Halfback Dennis Mendyk, 183 pounds of straight-arming uncooperativeness, gathered in the following kickoff for Michigan State and set off. He was all alone at mid-field with nothing between him and the goal line but daylight when Hornung appeared on the scene and dumped him. But 12 plays later State scored. Hornung, shaken up and taken out of the game when he tackled Mendyk, returned to action and ran the kickoff back 30 yards. Through the rest of the half neither team could score; and the score stayed 7-7. In the dressing room Coach Brennan slammed Hornung on the back and announced, "Fellows, you have 30 minutes more to pull off one of Notre Dame's greatest achievements."
But in football, as in song, "que sera, sera." Michigan State had too many guns. Substituting liberally and powerfully, the Spartans used their depth to grind down Notre Dame's inexperienced line. When the score swelled to 27-7, Hornung knew that something drastic had to be done. His old Louisville schoolmate, Halfback Sherrill Sipes, came back to a huddle and said, "Horn, throw me one. I can get clear in the middle." The pass covered 17 yards to the State three. Sipes went over on the next play for a touchdown and Hornung converted.
The South Bend cheers soon turned to moans of pain as State ground out seven touchdowns in all for the highest score in all of its 23 games with the Irish. Hornung was still pitching when the gun sounded. After he left the dressing room, his back was slapped red by pummeling student admirers.
Three hours later he was standing in front of the mirror in his tiny room at 219 Walsh Hall, shaving for a 9 o'clock date. "Don't let anybody tell you it's easy to be a good loser," he said through a ring of lather. "It isn't. It's the toughest thing in the world. But the way those Notre Dame kids treat you after the game—they make you almost happy you lost." He paused in the middle of a razor stroke and added: "I said, almost."
PENN STATE 7