A little history lesson . . . ancient history. Fifty years ago, on this date (a Saturday then), I attended my first BC football game as a freshman, Class of 1968. We were in high spirits, I would assume, being young and extremely new to the “college” experience of the time. Little did we know, however, that we would witness that day a historic game, and the best football game, at Alumni Stadium anyway, during our time as students at BC.
Considering that last Saturday’s big win was over a USC team ranked #9 in the country, it’s interesting in a bookend kind of way that Syracuse came into that day’s game ranked #9 preseason. The Orangemen featured an impressive pair of runners: sophomore Floyd Little (22 years old at the time) and senior Jim Nance. Both of them went into the pros and Little had an NFL hall-of-fame career, while Nance played for the Boston, later New England, Patriots.
There’s really only two things I remember about the game. One was that as freshmen we performed card stunts, i.e., we sat in a block; each of us had large poster-size cards and we were to hold one of the sides with different colors up at specific times to form some kind of image visible to others in the stadium. Being behind the card, of course, meant we had no idea if that happened successfully. I don’t think the card stunts ever took place at Alumni Stadium again. (Gee, I hope we didn’t screw it up. :)) The other thing I remember was . . .
With helpful reminders from the Heights of September 25, 1964, I remember that with about 15 seconds left (no tenths or hundredths back then) and the Eagles tied — tied 14-all with the #9 team in the land, which would later beat UCLA that season 39-0! — coach Jim Miller did not settle for the tie. (Update: BS sports historian nonpareil Reid Oslin ’68 tells me Coach Miller indeed called for taking a knee to get the tie/”win,” but teammates in the huddle convinced QB Larry Marzetti to try a long pass. Eagle initiative!) Marzetti threw a wounded duck of a pass that was caught by senior captain Bill Cronin (above). I remember the two defenders colliding, permitting Cronin to complete the 55-yard touchdown play. With the PAT, it ended 21-14. Cue pandemonium and joy. Afterward, we all went back to our dorms and watched the game again on TV. Well, no. Of course, this game was not even televised. Pretty much the only accessible visual record of it is from the Heights and Sub Turri.
This picture from Sub Turri shows QB Larry Marzetti running against Syracuse. The background gives you a sense of scale of the stadium. At this game, it was packed with 25,400 fans.
To give you an even better sense of the physical context of Alumni Stadium in those ancient times, check out this view of the southern end of Lower Campus, from a couple of years later. There is simply the stadium, McHugh Forum (site for hockey and University functions), something meant to serve as a soccer practice field, lousy parking, and remnants of another reservoir. That’s it.
The September 25 Heights also included a column entitled “Where Do We Go From Here?” The closing was “BEAT ARMY.” It was closer than most BC-Army games of the era, but the Eagles fell to the Black Knights, 19-13, on September 26. The Eagles later lost to Tennessee 16-14 (the heart-breakers), had a three-game win streak against Cincinnati, Air Force, and Villanova, lost to Miami 30-6 (we watched that as a student body on some kind of kinescope in McHugh), before beating Detroit Mercy and Holy Cross (10-8) to finish 6-3. Not bad . . . and never better when we were there. Even Doug Flutie was almost 20 years in the future.