Notre Dame: 14
Georgia Tech: 6
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish arrived in Atlanta as one of the best teams in the nation during the second week of the 1938 season. Having demolished Kansas 52-0 the previous week, Notre Dame was a heavy favorite over the Golden Tornado of Georgia Tech.
Each team’s first drive was held rather short, as the teams exchanged punts. On their second rive, however, the Irish were able to drive the ball from their own 24 to the Tech 45 yard line before fullback Mario Tonelli lost a fumble to Tech’s Glenn Cushing at the Yellow Jacket 21 yard line. In strategic fashion, William Alexander chooses to quick kick, catching the Notre Dame defense off guard. The ball rolled all the way to the Notre Dame 18 yard line before finally coming to a stop; a 60 yard punt!
After exchanging several more punts with the Irish, Tech had a short pass intercepted and returned to the Yellow Jacket 43 yard line. On the next play, Tonelli reeled off a 24 yard run, advancing to the 19 yard line. A Tech interception was then called back due to an offsides penalty, advancing the ball to the 14 yard line. Tonelli capped off the drive with two more runs of 4 and 9 yards, giving the Irish a 7-0 lead after the made extra point.
But Tech answered quickly. A 29 yard return was called back as the Irish were offsides. Notre Dame then attempted an onside kick, which bounced out of bounds at the Irish 40 yard line. On the first play of the drive, Tech’s Gay Thrash took the ball 23 yards on an end-around to the Notre Dame 17 yard line, bringing the first quarter to an end. The Jackets pounded the ball continually, finally entering the end zone on a fourth down attempt from within the one yard line. Tech would miss the extra point, however, and trail the Irish by one. Tech’s defense continued to play well in the first half, and neither team was able to score again before halftime.
Tech came out fierce to begin the second half. Billy Gibson returned the kickoff 37 yards to the Tech 42 yard line. After a 9 yard pass, R.L. Ison gained 15 yards on an end around to advance the ball to the Irish 35 line. Tech continued to advance to the 18 before Stevenson intercepted for Notre Dame, who took over at their own 16.
The teams were at a virtual stand-still. Neither team could score. Tech lost a fumble at the Irish 44, and Notre Dame threw an interception at the Yellow Jacket 32. Tech gained some momentum when Neil Cavette booted a 70 yard punt that came to a halt at the Irish 5 yard line. The momentum was short-lived, however, as Gibson’s punt was blocked several drives later, giving the Irish the ball at the Tech 41 yard line at the end of the third quarter.
Notre Dame proceeded to drive down the field, advancing to the Yellow Jacket 12 yard line. Sheridan was held just short of the end-zone on a 12 yard run after Ector missed a tackle in the Irish backfield. Irish fullback Milt Piepul then punched the ball in, giving the visitors a 14-6 lead after the made extra point.
Tech mounted one last attempt. After a long return, the Yellow Jackets advanced the ball all the way to the Notre Dame 2 yard line on a drive that featured a 20 yard hook-and-lateral and a 16 yard run. But Tech was unable to capitalize on the drive, as a fumbled snap was recovered by the Irish, virtually ending the game.
Tech would finish the season with a 3-4-3 record, while the Irish would go on to win all of their contests before falling to the USC Trojans 13-0 in Los Angeles
ND – 11
GT – 9
ND – 219
GT – 196
Troy, Jack. “Irish Hard-Pressed to Beat Tech, 14-6; Before 27,000 Anniversary Celebrants.” The Atlanta Constitution. 1938 Oct. 9
Troy, Jack. “Jack Troy’s Running Story of Tech-Notre Dame Game.” The Atlanta Constitution. 1938 Oct. 9