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FALCON ON THE WING
Roy Terrell
November 09, 1959
Alert as its namesake, a fine young Air Force football team gained a tie and a moral victory in its first game with Army
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November 09, 1959

Falcon On The Wing

Alert as its namesake, a fine young Air Force football team gained a tie and a moral victory in its first game with Army

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In the Commodore Bar, an Army colonel, class of '17, said, "Army must win. I've just returned from Washington and that's all they're talking about down there. The Air Force is contemptuous of us, they look upon us as the stuffy old branch. This is not for fun, it's serious. There is a symbolism to this game."

A Madison Avenue guy, with Ivy League lapels, was halted for a moment in the commuter rush at Grand Central. "It's synthetic," he said. "Neither team has any relationship to New York. The appeal in college football is not the mechanics but the atmosphere. And this is not a college town, it's a pro town."

"I like Navy," said the old girl at the bar in Greenwich Village. "What do you mean, Navy isn't playing? Army always plays Navy."

So New York wasn't very excited. The subways were a little more jammed, and 67,000 people filled Yankee Stadium to watch the first big college football game in New York since Notre Dame played Davis and Blanchard to that 0-0 tie. The 2,500-man cadet corps from up the Hudson and 400 upperclassmen from the cadet wing beneath the Rockies whooped and marched and cheered. Hannibal and Mr. Jackson and Pancho, the Army mules, thundered up and down the turf between where Mickey Mantle and Gil McDougald normally stand, turning the Yankee Stadium groundkeepers livid with rage. Mach I and Mach II, the Air Force falcons, swooped and stooped in a remarkable demonstration at half time, entertaining those among the audience blessed with 20-20 vision and scaring the wits out of the pigeon population of the lower Bronx. But New Yorkers themselves didn't seem to get very excited.

A murky drizzle blanketed the field all day. The Air Force, despite a superior record (a loss to strong Oregon, four victories, in five games), was a seven-point underdog. But once the game began, the Air Force shook all this off and gained a 13-13 tie by exploiting their basic weapon—the collection of loose footballs.

Army fumbled four times and four times the Air Force scooped up the ball. Two of the fumbles led to Falcon touchdowns, another gave them a chance at a field goal which missed. Outweighed and playing 1,800 miles from home, they almost won the entire shooting match only to have a field goal attempt fade off, barely short and a few feet wide, in the last minute of play.

Already a legend for their fierce spirit, the Falcons proved to have a few football players, too. Richie Mayo, the quarterback, was deadly with a little rollout pass. A tough, quick-starting fullback named Monte Moorberg ripped through the Army line for good yardage and Mike Quinlan lived up to his billing as the best halfback Air Force has ever had. And the Falcon line, after being soundly outcharged by Army for 30 minutes, turned around and dominated the second half.

THE WALKING WOUNDED

In fairness to Army, it must be pointed out that this was one of the limpingest football teams ever seen. Bob Anderson, who scored both Cadet touchdowns and ran, at times, like a light tank despite his injured knee, limped. Don Usry limped. Otto Everbach limped. Jim Connors limped. Joe Caldwell limped. Others limped. Once, when George Pupich, the Air Force place-kicker who also limps, went off the field, he started to go sit on the Army bench.

Despite the tie, the Falcons were rather pleased with the results of the first Army-Air Force football game, for in some ways they came out ahead.

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