Georgia Tech: 20
Notre Dame: 26
Fresh off a 27-0 shutout against Samford to open the season, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets would head to Notre Dame to face the Fighting Irish in South Bend for the second time in two years. The Irish had defeated Pacific 25-7 during the previous week, and were ranked 13th in the AP poll.
The teams finished the first quarter still knotted at 0-0. After an early 65 yard punt by the Yellow Jackets, the majority of the quarter was played in Notre Dame territory. Tech had a good chance at a score after Johnny Bosch returned a punt 27 yards to the Irish 23. The Jackets were unable to capitalize, however, gaining just 6 yards on four plays and turning the ball over on downs at the Irish 17 yard line.
Tech would threaten to score again early in the second quarter. After returning the ball to the Irish 49 yard line, Bosch burst for 20 yards on the first play of the drive. One play later, Rob Ison reeled off 14 more for a first down at the Notre Dame 14 yard line. But Tech would again come up short, turning the ball over on downs after a short run and three incomplete passes.
At this point, the Irish exploded. Taking over on their own 14, they proceeded to drive 86 yards for the game’s first score. After two short runs, Robert Saggau passed to Steve Juzwik for a 20 yard gain. On the next play, Juzwik hit Bob Hargrave for 23 yards and a first down at the Tech 39 yard line. Milt Piepul would then gain 16 yards on a reverse, and Saggau would cap off the drive with a 23 yard touchdown pass to Hargrave with 5 minutes remaining in the second quarter.
Tech’s next drive would stall, and a punt would give the Irish the ball at their own 40 yard line. On the first play, Juzwik took a reverse 60 yards for the touchdown, giving the Irish a 13-0 advantage after the missed extra point.
After receiving the kickoff, Tech was held again and their punt was returned by Hargrave to the Irish 34 yard line. The drive’s first two plays consisted of long passes from Saggau to Steve Bagarus, the first for 35 yards and the second for 26. It was now first and goal from the Tech 5 yard line. Three plays later, Saggau punched the ball in on the short run, extending the score to 20-0.
Just as the game appeared out of reach, the Yellow Jackets struck back! On the last play of the first half, Jack Hancock caught the Notre Dame kick at his own 10 yard line and proceeded to burst up the middle for 90 yards and Tech’s first score of the game, cutting the Irish lead to 14 at 20-6 after the missed extra point. This was a huge momentum swing going into half time.
Tech would receive the ball first in third quarter and would fail to get anything going. The defense would then come up big, stopping the Irish on fourth down at the Yellow Jacket 10 yard line. But the celebration was short lived. After Tech’s drive stalled, Notre Dame blocked C.R. Sanders’s punt and Jim Brutz returned it 15 yards for the touchdown, extending the score to 26-6.
The Jackets nearly scored as the third quarter ended. After recovering a fumble at the Notre Dame 29 yard line, Tech was held to three and out, and punted to the Irish. But Jackie Hayes fumbled the punt, giving the Jackets the ball back at the Irish 14 yard line. Two plays later Jack Bradford had marched Tech to the 1. Just as it looked like Tech would chip into the lead, Bradford fumbled, turning the ball over at the Irish 2 yard line and yet again dashing the hopes of the Yellow Jackets.
In a game that had looked like it was all but over, Tech began to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter. After stopping an Irish drive, Don Hogan’s punt was returned by Bates to the Notre Dame 41 yard line. Bates’s first pass went for 29 yards to Harry Arthur, and the two offsides penalties that followed moved the Jackets to the Irish 2 yard line. After two unsuccessful tries, Bradford finally burst into the endzone, cutting the score to 26-13 after the made extra point. Tech’s next possession would end on an interception before they would mount their final scoring drive late in the fourth quarter.
After taking over at his own 17 yard line with little time remaining, Tech’s R.E. Beers hit J.E. Nettles for a 46 yard pass to the Irish 37 yard line. The Jackets quickly added two more first downs, advancing to the 16. Several plays later, a 12 yard pass from Bosch to G.I. Webb put the ball inside the 5 yard line. Tech would go on to score on a 1 yard run by R.A. Plaster with less than one minute remaining. The ensuing kickoff would end the game at a final score of 26-20 in favor of the Irish.
Notre Dame would win their next four games before finally falling to the Iowa Hawkeyes in South Bend 7-0 on November 16, 1940. They would finish the season 7-2.
GT – 102 yards
ND – 140 yards
GT – 146
ND – 139
Troy, Jack. “Notre Dame Passes Conquer Gallant Tech Eleven, 26-20.” The Atlanta Constitution. 1940 Oct. 13