As it stands today, beating Army (no offense to Frank Spaziani) is not a big deal, but in 1970, the Eagles had tried nine times previously and never been successful. As most of you know, Army in particular and Navy to a lesser extent, were dominant programs. The Cadets went from 1907-1938 without a losing season and won three consecutive national championships from 1944-46.
At the conclusion of the second world war, the bloom came off the rose a bit and the Army dominance faded slightly, but no matter the situation or venue (although 8 of the first 9 games in the series were played at West Point), the Eagles couldn't win.
1970 seemed to hold out hope for finally breaking that streak.
Long time Sports Information Director Eddie Miller piece in his Notes From the Desk of The Editor, that was the first page of every game program, put it this way:
" The first football game played between Boston College and Army was way back in 1917. Army won that one 14-7, and last season's game at West Point 38-7 and all seven in between. But the tenth game of the series played here at the Heights today just might be the break true loyal Boston College fans have been hoping for, for many years!"
There was reason to hope, the Cadets entered the contest 1-6 with their lone win over Holy Cross in the season opener, while BC was 3-2 with their only losses to Penn State and #7 Air Force. The Eagle program was headed in an upward trajectory under third year coach Joe Yukica.
Despite the optimism, the game did not start well. Army was the physically superior team and bottled up what was a pretty potent Eagle offense lead by the local tandem of Malden's Frank "Red" Harris at QB and Natick's Fred Willis at RB. Willis, a future Houston Oiler, had scored 8 touchdowns in the first five games, averaging almost six yards a carry, and Harris, despite some interception issues (imagine in 2015 if you threw 13 picks in five games!) had the Eagle offense cranking out 431 yards a game.
The Cadet defense though kept BC contained. The Eagles managed just 57 total yards in the first half, just three passing, while Army opened up a 13-0 halftime lead.
Not only were the Eagles being beaten, they were being beaten up. Willis (pinched nerve), Medford WR and PR wizard Ed Rideout (ankle), Orrie Scarminach, John Michaels and Skip Coppola were all lost in the opening half.
The second half though the script was flipped and although Willis returned and had his typical workhorse day (34 carries and 121 yards), the comeback was led by Harris. Red accounted for five passing first downs and scored the first Eagle TD on a 1 yard keeper.
Following a poor punt, Harris hit John Bonistalli from 21 yards out to give BC the lead and then he capped the scoring on a bootleg run to make it 21-13.
The Eagle D then put the bow on the present as Gary Hudson picked off Army QB Bob Mohn at the 1.
Harris completed 12 of 13 for 142 yards in the second half alone and Yukica commented the win was the "finest comeback I've ever coached".
The 1970 Eagles would win out that season to finish 8-2.
1970 was also the first season that I attended BC football games and although the game itself is something I struggle to recall even one detail of, I was only seven after all, the memories of seeing the Cadets at lunch pre-game in McElroy Commons and marching into the stadium, have always stayed with me. The game program that so much of this particular piece of history references is the only one I have without a cover. It may not be a classic, but reliving it brought back some great memories.
Boston College on October 31:
- 1894 - Andover Academy 32 BC 0 - Loss - site unknown
- 1908 - at UNH 18 BC 0 - Loss
- 1914 - at BC 28 Norwich 6 - Win - Fenway Park
- 1925 - at BC 51 Providence 0 - Win
- 1931 - at BC 20 Georgetown 2 - Win
- 1936 - at BC 13 Michigan State 13 - Tie - Fenway Park
- 1942 - at #7 BC 47 Georgetown 0 - Win - Fenway Park
- 1943 - at BC 37 Brooklyn College 6 - Win - Fenway Park
- 1952 - Clemson 13 at BC 0 - Loss - Fenway Park
- 1953 - Richmond 14 at BC 0 - Loss - Fenway Park
- 1954 - at BC 42 Springfield 6 - Win - Fenway Park
- 1970 - at BC 21 Army 13 - Win - Alumni Stadium
- 1981 - #2 Pittsburgh 29 at BC 24 - Loss - Alumni Stadium
- 1987 - at BC 20 #13 Tennessee 18 - Win - Alumni Stadium
- 1992 - at #11 BC 45 Temple 6 - Win - Alumni Stadium
- 1996 - at Pittsburgh 20 BC 13 - Loss
- 1998 - at #25 Miami 35 BC 17 - Loss
- 2009 - at BC 31 Central Michigan 10 - Win - Alumni Stadium