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Michie Memories: Our favorite moments in stadium’s 100 years

One of college football’s most storied venues completes its 100th season Saturday.

The history of Michie Stadium is unmatched from the national championships of the 1940s to Army’s three Heisman Trophy winners – Davis, Blanchard and Dawkins – and some recent fantastic finishes under coach Jeff Monken.

Fellow Heisman Trophy winners Tony Dorsett, Doug Flutie and John Cappelletti and NFL legends Dan Marino and Randy Moss also graced Michie Stadium with their presence.

So many games, so many memories.

Here’s a list of our top games that we’ve seen at Michie:

Mark Beech (Author of When Saturday Mattered Most)

5. Sept. 15, 1984: In its second season under coach Jim Young, Army debuts its new wishbone offense, rolling to 464 yards on the ground in a 41-15 trouncing of Colgate. Three Cadets break the 100-yard mark: Nate Sassaman (131), Doug Black (125) and William Lampley (107). My parents, attending my father’s 25th reunion, were at this game. My dad loves Army football and I remember how excited he was. A thrilling moment. After years of misery, suddenly there was hope.

4. Nov. 12, 1988: Army defeats Vanderbilt 24-19 in a thriller to improve to 8-1. Quarterback Brian McWilliams ran for 143 yards, the last two coming on a touchdown dive with 1:28 to play. I was a yearling, and, if memory serves, the crowd – more than 40,000 strong – was pretty loud when Vandy was trying to put together a final drive. Just a ton of fun.

3. Nov. 3, 1990: Army defeats its first Division I-A opponent of the season by beating Rutgers 35–31. Cadets running back Mike Mayweather ran for 134 yards and became the first Army player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. The Black Knights won it with a stunning 10-play, 76-yard fourth-quarter drive, with quarterback Willie McMillian scoring on a four-yard keeper with 43 seconds left.

2. Oct. 7, 1999: In a Thursday night game, Army jumps out to a 45–17 halftime lead on Louisville and then doesn’t score again until the first and second overtimes, ultimately winning 59–52. The Cadets’ Michael Wallace ran for 269 yards to break the academy’s single-game rushing record. I was living in Manhattan at the time, and I remember talking to a USMA friend of mine at halftime. Our considered opinion was that 45 points would not be enough. We were right.

1. Dec. 12, 2020: Army shuts out Navy 15–0 with only the Corps on hand. Eerie, electric. Just an amazing thing to watch.

Sal Interdonato (Black Knight Nation)

5. Nov. 9, 2007: The score was irrelevant. Army was dominated by Rutgers and Ray Rice on a rainy Friday night. The pregame was the highlight. My editor Matt Pepin and I were putting together a video story on tailgate and caught Rutgers alum James Gandolfini, aka Tony Soprano, hanging out with Army fans. A major star at Michie.

4. Oct. 21, 2017: Quarterback Kelvin Hopkins comes off the bench to spark a late rally with a touchdown pass to Jermaine Adams in corner of the end zone with one second left to send the game in overtime against Temple. Army survived 31-28 for its fourth straight win and qualified for a bowl game.

3. Nov. 3, 2012: One Army’s most dominant wins over Air Force 41-21. Just remember linebacker Nate Combs flying all over the field, making plays. Trent Steelman rushed for 101 yards and passed for 100 yards as the Black Knights ended a six-game losing streak to the Zoomies.

2. Oct. 6, 2007. The Miracle at Michie. Quarterback Kevin Dunn came off the bench to lead Army’s comeback, completing the first touchdown pass of his career to Mike Wright as time expired, forcing overtime. The Black Knights prevailed in 20-17.

1. Oct. 29, 2011: The snow game. Army defeated Fordham 55-0 behind backup quarterback Max Jenkins. An late October blizzard made for a Winter Wonderland at Michie. Roads were impassable in and around post. Stayed overnight in the press box. An unique experience to say the least.

Seth Mendelson (Black Knight Nation)

5, Sept. 25, 1972: Nebraska, the two-time defending national champion, defeated Army 77-7 in the season opener for both teams. More than 42,000 fans and an ABC regional TV audience, a rarity in
those days, saw 1971 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers score three touchdowns to pace
the Cornhuskers. Nebraska put its subs in early in the third quarter but even they were able to
score at will on the Cadets. Rumor has it that Nebraska ran the score up because a team official played for Villanova during the war years when Army shut out the Wildcats five straight years, including humiliating them 83-0 in 1944 and 54-0 in 1945.

4. November 6, 1996: Army moved to 9-0 with a convincing 23-7 victory over Air Force, just several
weeks after the Falcons defeated Notre Dame. The nation’s top rushing team, Army managed
to accumulate 260 yards on the ground. Air Force, the country’s second-best rushing team, was held to just 69 yards on the ground, nearly 300 yards below its average. The game was so important to Army that the Pentagon sent Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf to give the team a pep talk on Friday night.

3. Oct. 12, 1985: In one of the first night games in Michie Stadium history, Army had much to prove over a relatively-weak Boston College team, which had lost Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie to
graduation. Army entered the game 4-0. The local and national media was starting to pay attention after Army’s best start in two decades and all eyes were on the Cadets as they matched up with BC. Army, with sophomore quarterback Tory Crawford at the helm, prevailed 45-14 in coach Jim Young’s third year. Using an option offense, Army rushed for more than 500 yards, with Crawford and junior halfback Clarence Jones each scoring three touchdowns.

2. Nov. 9, 1974: After struggling through its first winless season (0-10) in 1973 and facing real recruiting battles because of the unpopular Vietnam War, Army badly needed a win against arch-rival Air Force. With both the clock and the sun ticking away, it took freshman Leamon Hall just 100 seconds to drive the Cadets from their own 20-yard line to the Air Force 16-yard line. Then with just 17 seconds left in the game, sophomore kicker Mike Marquez booted a 33-yard field goal to give Army an improbable 17-16 victory over the Falcons. Marquez was only in the game because starting kicker Mike Castelli was injured on the Cadets first point-after attempt of the game in the first quarter.

1. Oct. 16, 1968: With just minutes left in the game, quarterback Steve Lindell found wide receiver Gary Steele, who was the first Black player on an Army team, for a 63-yard touchdown pass to put Army ahead 10-7 over California. That was the final score and it is also the last time Army beat a ranked team that was not a fellow service academy. Army would finish the season with a 7-3 record and received an invite to play in the Sugar Bowl before the Navy game. Many say that the Department of Defense did not want Army playing in a bowl game while the war was going on, even though Navy and Air Force regularly accepted
bowl invitations in those years. Army was then upset by Navy 21-14 in Philadelphia.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Don Davison

    November 18, 2023 at 9:51 AM

    Guys…great stories but you left out the name of the opponents on several game recaps!
    Sal’s #4 was against Temple(I was at the game).
    Seth’s #1 was against Penn State, I think.

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