Although such was the case in the first four memorable Albion football games we examined in recent weeks, a noteworthy contest does not have to be the conclusion of a successful season.
In conjunction with our review of Cardinal football fortunes in the 1960s, the pick for Most Memorable Game this week is the key victory in Albion’s sixth undefeated grid season.
Albion’s thrilling 20-19 win at David City in 1965 did not complete the 9-0 achievement, landing smack dab in the middle of the campaign. It’s actually a narrow choice ahead of Albion’s 20-13 victory over Central City the following week. You can read more about that thriller in the decade review, a dogfight decided when Norm Green’s two consecutive interceptions set up a long touchdown pass from Bob Childs to Larry Homolka, and Green’s third pick sealed the decision.
Worthy and memorable, no doubt, but the escape at David City the preceding Friday may have had even more drama.
This is the first in the Most Memorable Game series that I did not personally see, or play in. But, from accounts in the pages of the Albion News, I certainly wish I would have had the privilege.
Albion and David City were fierce Central 10 Conference rivals in those days, and the News lede in the game report sounded almost gleeful following the big win.
“David City’s homecoming was undoubtably marred by the loss of the game and the loss of one goal post, which was pushed over by two jubilant (and evidently strong) young Albionites.”
That finalized my decision for the week. When you’re toppling goalposts, it was a memorable game! (I also wonder if Cardinal Coach Martin Petersen looked into recruiting the perpetrators?)
Although it would be an important victory in the end, the game did not begin well for the Albion Cardinals.
David City recovered an errant punt snap at the Albion 14-yard line in early play and took a 6-0 lead. Ralph Schmadeke blocked the PAT kick attempt, a feat that grew in importance as the contest unfolded. Just two plays later, Albion fumbled and the Scouts recovered at the 39. David City added a second touchdown and took a 13-0 lead with 3:13 remaining in the first quarter.
Albion’s defense had proven to be exceptional during the season’s first four weeks and would allow just 65 total points in nine games. From that point, the Cardinals began to stymie David City and facilitate a spirited Cardinal rally.
Dave Krohn received several key blocks and scampered 43 yards to paydirt, with Schmadeke’s PAT run closing the deficit to 13-7. The Albion defense made another stop and it took little time for the Cardinals to forge their first lead. Following a 15-yard penalty on the Scouts, Schmadeke ran for 10 yards before Bob Childs’ long pass to Krohn carried to the one-yard line. Schmadeke plunged into the end zone on the next play. Krohn ran for the conversion, only to see the Cards penalized 15 yards. No problem, as Childs passed to Krohn on the second try, giving Albion a 14-13 edge it would take into halftime.
The teams jockeyed back and forth for the majority of the second half, with offenses frustrated by stout defense, turnovers and penalties.
Larry Homolka finally, “fielded a punt on the 30 yard line and with good downfield blocking and fancy running went 70 yards for a touchdown with 6:28 remaining in the game.” Childs was stopped short on the PAT attempt and Albion held a 20-13 advantage.
I’ll let the News describe how the ensuing taut moments unfolded.
“Albion fans thought that the game was in the bag. But they were soon surprised. David City took the kick on their 15 and marched back to their 40. On a fourth and 5 situation Wayne Buntgen grabbed a handoff and ran 60 yards through the Cards for a David City touchdown.”
Scout kicker Rick Bock squarely toed the PAT kick, but the ball was deflected by the Albion line and the Cardinals clung to their one-point lead with 4:39 to play.
David City attempted an onside kick, but “fast-thinking Byron Melland” fell on the ball for Albion. Albion drove to the David City 25 before losing yardage on three straight plays, and then being penalized 15 yards. David City had one final opportunity after gaining possession at the 40, but Albion’s Dave Keehn snuffed out Scout hopes with an interception.
The Cardinals were 5-0 and, after toppling Central City the following week, thrashed Schuyler (34-0), Fullerton (46-7) and Aurora (37-14) to finish the first undefeated Albion football season in 17 years.
It was an impressive Albion team which persevered and prevailed in every key moment of the season, led by Petersen and stalwart seniors Dave Krohn, Norm Green, Paul Borer, Ralph Schmadeke, Terry Zoucha, Bob Childs, Jim Hartford and Les Kinney.
A successful season with many highlights, including a very memorable “homecoming wrecker” at David City.