football Edit

A Trip Down Memory Lane

One of the problems with doing a feature based on old game programs is that I am limited by the programs I have on hand.

All of the Minnesota game programs I have that survived the sump pump malfunction in my basement are from Iowa losses. I don’t want to write about a loss. I want to write about a win. So a hybrid column will appear this week.


The pictures at the bottom are from a non-descript 24-7 loss to Minnesota in Hayden Fry’s first season, 1979.

The story is from the magical 1939 season, the year of the Ironmen.

Iowa entered its final home game riding the high of an emotional 7-6 win over Notre Dame. The Hawks were a bruised and battered bunch by this time in the season. And Minnesota, while only standing at 3-3, was still a salty bunch.

The Gophers had the Hawkeyes’ number it seemed. 1929 was the last year the Hawkeyes had defeated the Golden Gophers.

During the 1930s, few teams were as strong as Minnesota. In a four year span from 1933 to 1936 Bernie Bierman’s Gophers lost a total of one game.

Even in 1939, sitting at 3-3, the Gophers were not a toothless opponent. None of their three losses was by more than a touchdown. They also owned a 21-7 win over Michigan, the only team to have beaten our Hawkeyes.

This game was a hard fought, physical struggle between teams made more of pig iron, than of flesh and bone. The game was a battle from the get go as starting quarterback, Al Coupee, injured his shoulder making a tackle on the game’s opening kickoff.

Minnesota slugged its way up and down the field in the first half, but the Iowa defense, which appeared as pliable as a rubber band stiffened into a granite-like force in the Iowa red zone. A penalty at the Iowa 12 stopped one Gopher drive.

The next foray deep into Iowa territory ended in a missed field goal.

Finally Minnesota drove deep enough to put a tally on the Iowa Stadium scoreboard. But even though Minnesota dominated the ball in the first half, all they could manage was a 16 yard John Mernik field goal.

The second half opened and almost immediately the Hawkeyes found themselves in a deep hole. A Minnesota punt bounded out at Iowa’s four yard line and the Hawkeyes could make no headway against the staunch Minnesota front.

Forced to punt from his own end zone, Kinnick boomed a punt to midfield where Minnesota’s Harold Van Every (also the Gopher’s punter) returned it back to Iowa’s 27 yard line.

After only a few plays the visitors had moved to the Iowa 7 yard line. There, the Iowa boys bowed their necks and stopped three successive line plunges by the larger Gophers.

Facing 4th and goal at the Iowa five, Bierman knew he couldn’t crack the Iowa line, so he tried a different strategy and George Franck raced around left end for the touchdown.

Iowa rose up to block the extra point, but Minnesota held a commanding 9-0 lead going into the fourth quarter.

The stage was set for heroics, and no player in the nation was more heroic than Iowa’s Nile Kinnick.

After watching three subs try and fail to replace Coupee, Iowa coach Dr. Eddie Anderson, was forced to play Kinnick at quarterback in Coupee’s absence.

Kinnick took charge. Starting at the Iowa twenty yard line, Kinnick showed that the talent in his right arm was as great as the talent in his strong legs

On first down Kinnick hit a slanting Buzz Dean for 18 yards. Kinnick to Dean worked again on the next pass, this time for 14 yards and the Hawkeyes had crossed midfield.

Kinnick stood at midfield, the wind whistling through his tattered and torn jersey. The general surveying the battlefield.

After taking a short plunge for two yards, Kinnick faded back to pass and found Erwin Prasse streaking down the sideline. Prasse hauled the ball in at the Minnesota ten and broke a tackle at the five to put Iowa on the scoreboard. The Hawkeye faithful roared as Kinnick’s drop kick cut the lead to 9-7.

Minnesota returned to its punishing ground attack and slowly moved the ball towards midfield, but Bob Sweigert fumbled and the Hawks were only a field goal away from the lead.

Unfortunately, charity began at home and a hurried Kinnick was intercepted at the Gopher 25 yard line.

Things looked bleak as Minnesota took the ball with only a few minutes and change on the clock. After a couple quick first downs, the Iowa defense found its resolve and halted the Gopher march.

Kinnick went deep to return Minnesota’s punt with a little over four minutes to go.

Taking the punt at his own 10 yard line, Kinnick returned the ball to his own 21.

After a first down pass slipped through his receiver’s fingers, Kinnick found Buzz Dean crossing the middle and hit him in stride for a 17 yard gain.

On the next play, Minnesota picked off Kinnick again, but the play was nullified by a pass interference call and Iowa got the ball at the 50 yard line.

Kinnick tried some trickery and gave the ball to Bill Green who smashed off tackle for seven yards. He followed that up run with his own sprint around left end for 10 yards.

The Hawkeyes stood at the Gopher 28 when Kinnick called Bill Green’s number. Buzz Dean raced through the backfield for an apparent reverse, but Kinnick faked the handoff and dropped the pigskin into the arms of the streaking Green.

Touchdown Iowa!!!

Kinnick’s drop kick was blocked, but Iowa held its first led of the game, 13-9 with three and a half minutes to play.

Minnesota returned the kickoff to its own 25 yard line. Failing on two pass attempts, the Gophers tried to run on 3rd and ten and fell inches short. No doubt the Gophers would go for the 1st down at this juncture of the game. They did, and they got it.

But now time was becoming the 12th man for the Hawkeyes and the Gophers took to the air again. The first pass was caught, bobbled and dropped by Buzz Dean.

The next pass was over the middle and was intercepted by whom else? Nile Kinnick!

The stands erupted with a joyous noise as the Hawks lined up to run out the clock.

As the clock hit zero and the referee’s gun fired to sound the end, frenzied Iowa fans rushed the field to carry off their heroes.

Minnesota had owned almost every statistical category.

*16 first downs to Iowa’s 8.

*230 yards rushing to Iowa’s 68

*Four interceptions compared to Iowa’s two fumble recoveries

However, the category that counted most was owned by the Ironmen, 13-9

Seven Iowa players played the full sixty minutes, including Kinnick who did so for the sixth straight game.

Once again, the Ironmen lived up to their nickname.

Back to that 24-7 loss to Minnesota in Hayden Fry’s first season, here are the two deeps from the game followed by our weekly photo feature.


SE - Chappelle 6-1, 165, Person 6-0, 183

LT - Petrzelka 6-7, 248, Kittle 6-5, 228

LG - Gilbaugh 6-4, 235, Grayson 6-3, 225

C - Hilgenberg 6-3, 230, Oakes 6-4, 228

RG - Mayhan 6-5, 221, Harrington 6-4, 228

RT - Palladino 6-2, 248, Postler 6-4, 229

TE - Swift 6-5, 236, Frantz 6-4, 198

QB - Bohannon 6-3, 188, Suess 6-5, 178,

RB - Mosley 5-11, 183, Williams 5-11, 181

FB - McKillip 6-2, 204, Burke 6-0, 185

WB - Reid 6-0, 167 (Go Linn-Mar!), Dunham 6-2, 191


LDE - Molini6-4, 227, Tippett 6-3, 220

LDT - Mahmens 6-2, 258, Uhlenhake 6-3, 259

NG - Willey-6-3, 233, Dean 6-2, 237,

RDT - Harty 6-6, 257, Bradley 6-3, 224

RDE - Skradis 6-1, 211, Webb 6-1, 202

LLB - Weiss 6-3, 220, Holtorf 6-3, 222

RLB - Simonsen 6-4, 225, Cole 6-3, 228

LC - Shaw 6-0, 195, Kevin Ellis 6-3, 183

SS - Jackson 6-0, 190 Kent Ellis 6-2, 185

FS - King 6-2, 181. Olenjniczak 6-4, 195

RC - Pace 6-0, 173, Crocker 6-0, 178

Reggie Roby was both punter and kicker at 6-3, 215.

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