Army-Navy Football 1963-1966


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The Army-Navy football games of 1963 and 1964 — featuring Navy’s quarterback Roger Staubach against Army’s relatively unknown counterpart Rollie Stichweh — remain to this day two of the most exciting football games I have ever seen.

Navy won the 1963 game 21-15 and went on to play National Champion Texas in the Cotton Bowl.  That simple statement, however, does not begin to do justice to the incredible sense of excitement, hope and — ultimately — frustration with which we cadets watched our underdog team come to the brink of what would have been perhaps the most stunning upset in the long history of what has been called “The Greatest Rivalry in All of Sports” (by Bill Cromartie in his book “Army-Navy Football”).

I was a West Point plebe at the time and this was my first Army-Navy game.  The crushing sense of disappointment with which the game ended has stayed with me over the intervening years, ameliorated only somewhat by the following year’s 11-8 win and Army’s overall 2-1-1 record against Navy during my cadet years.

Dan Jenkins of Sports Illustrated wrote an excellent story about the game, which I cut out and have saved.  It describes in excruciating detail how close Army came to winning the 1963 game and why the loss was all the more frustrating for its anti-climatic conclusion.  The Jenkins article is reproduced in a Power Point presentation linked here:

Army Navy Game 1963

Note that the crucial onsides kick recovery at Navy’s 49 yard line with 6:13 to play was made by none other than Rollie Stichweh!

There was no way the 1964 rematch between Staubach and Stichweh — both first classmen (seniors) at the time — could match the drama of the 1963 game, but it was almost equally as exciting and infinitely more satisfying for Army fans, as Army broke Navy’s five game series winning streak.

Neither team had a winning record in 1964 (Army entered the game 3-6 and Navy 3-5-1), but Navy was a slight favorite to win their sixth in a row.  Nevertheless, the game was tied 8-8 at halftime and with just 9:33 to play in the game, my classmate Barry Nickerson kicked a field goal to put Army up 11-8.  Incredibly, this was Army’s first field goal against Navy in 33 years.

Army’s defense then took over and with Navy at the Army 27 late in the game, sacked Staubach twice for big losses and on a 4th and 36 forced an incomplete pass to preserve the win.

My Army-Navy game experience as a cadet was rounded out by a sister-kissing 7-7 tie in 1965 and a solid 20-7 win in 1966 (giving Army a sterling 8-2 record for the season).

Ironically, I was commissioned an ensign in the Navy upon graduation and have not seen an Army-Navy game in person since.   I remain a college football fan, primarly focused (through #1 son’s affiliation with the team and local proximity) on the University of California’s Golden Bears.  Nevertheless, my memories of the 1963 & 1964 Army-Navy games in particular remain indelibly impressed and will never be forgotten.

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8 thoughts on “Army-Navy Football 1963-1966

  1. The Army-Navy game was a big deal in our house when I was growing up. Both my parents were Navy fans. Me, I liked Army. The Black Knights were cool. I remember Roger the dodger. He was great. Joe Belino- and the rest. I went to a couple of games with my folks in Philly. Bobby Gee
    http://bobbygee.wordpress.com/

  2. Thanks for joining the conversation, Bobby, and for your memories of the old Army-Navy days.

    Staubach (1963 as a junior) and Bellino (1960) were Navy’s two Heisman Trophy winners. Army had three — Felix “Doc” Blanchard (1945), Glenn Davis (1946) and Pete Dawkins (1958).

    The nature of college football has changed in such a way that it is now highly unlikely that any service academy player will ever again win the Heisman, so they are likely to remain the only five ever to do so.

  3. Great story (I dont know how I just found this?!)! I collect old Army-Navy programs and tickets as I love the nostalgia of the series. The early 40s and the 60s seemed to be some of the best games. I feel it this year…we’re going to be one tough team to beat!

    Go Army!

    • I was at the game , on Dec. 7th 1963. After the game was over, I went down to the field and got a piece of the goal post. I still have the ticket stub and the piece of the wooden goal post, today.

      • Speaking of ticket stub, can you provide an image of the stub as I believe I have an unused ticket to that game and would like to know if it is a legitimate ticket.

  4. My brother Phil Norton played in the Army Navy Game in 1963. He caught the two point conversion pass to tie the game at the half. I was super excited so I remember a totally different game than you all do. I was 13 at the time.

  5. Pingback: December 7th … Army-Navy 1963 | Three Dot ...

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