Georgia Tech: 17
Tech had won their first three games of the season by a combined score of 106-0 against Clemson, North Carolina, and Auburn. Carrying the 8th spot in the AP poll, the Jackets’ competition would move up a notch when the 9th ranked Navy Midshipmen arrived in Atlanta in late October.
On the opening kickoff, Navy’s Robert Jenkins returned the ball 83 yards for a quick 6-0 lead. After the opening fireworks, the action slowed and neither team would score for the remainder of the quarter. Tech nearly put points on the board late in the period, but the Jackets turned the ball over on downs after advancing to the Navy 9 yard line.
Most of the second quarter would play out in similar fashion to the first, as neither team could manufacture a solid drive. But late in the period, the Yellow Jackets caught a big break on an odd rule. Tech punted on 3rd down and as the ball was rolling to a stop, a Navy player clipped a Tech player at the Midshipmen 7 yard line. At the time, a punted ball that had not been touched by either team was considered to be a neutral ball (i.e. neither team had possession). If a penalty occurred on this type of play, the ball was automatically given to the offense at the spot of the foul. The officials instituted this rule and Tech was awarded the ball at the Navy 7 yard line! The Jackets would punch the ball into the end zone on two runs by Red Broyles and a Navy offsides penalty to take a 7-6 lead. The following Navy drive nearly resulted in a score to end the half. Two quick plays of 15 and 47 yards advanced the Midshipmen to the Tech 3 with little time remaining. The Yellow Jacket defense held strong though, and drive ended at the 1 yard line as time expired.
Each team would add a score in the third quarter. Navy threw the first blow after taking over at the Tech 45 yard line on a bad punt. Five straight runs of 15, 6, 7, 7, and 10 yards gave the visitors a 13-7 lead with Ralph Ellsworth punching the ball in for the touchdown. Three of the next four drives ended in turnovers, Tech throwing one interception and Navy throwing two. The final of the aforementioned turnovers gave the Ramblin’ Wreck the ball at the Midshipmen 37 after a 25 yard return. A 22 yard strike from W.O. Ritter to George Mathews, followed by a pass interference penalty on Navy gave the Jackets the ball at the one yard line. Bill Williams finished off the drive with a one yard run for the score, regaining the lead for the Jackets at 14-13 after the made extra point.
As the ensuing Navy drive carried into the fourth quarter, the Midshipmen would regain the lead on another odd set of events. After advancing to the Tech 3 yard line, Jenkins fumbled and Tech recovered at its own one. Rather than attempt a play, Tech elected to punt. But the play went awry when Bill Williams was tackled in the end zone for a safety while trying to get off the kick; Navy took back the lead at 15-14.
The Midshipmen were unable to get anything going after the free kick, and Tech would take over at its own 43 after a short punt. The Jackets were determined to win, as Ritter connected on two passes of 19 and 26 yards to advance to the Navy 12 yard line. A short run by Williams put Tech at the 9 before the drive stalled, but the Jackets would make a 30 yard field goal to regain the advantage at 17-15.
Navy took over on the kickoff with plenty of time remaining and quickly put together a solid drive. Ellsworth and Jenkins traded carries as the Midshipmen drove to the Tech 7 with little time remaining. But just as before, the Ramblin’ Wreck defense stepped up! Four straight runs would put the ball at the 1 with just a few seconds left in the game. As time expired Broyles intercepted the Midshipmen pass to solidify a hard fought victory for Tech!
After dropping to 12th in following AP poll, Navy would battle back to win four straight, including a 32-13 decision over 2nd ranked Notre Dame. The Midshipmen would rise to the #2 spot in the polls before dropping the final contest of the season the top ranked Army Black Knights.
NAVY – 21
GT – 9
NAVY – 238
GT – 12
NAVY – 9-17-127
GT – 10-22-171
NAVY – 2
GT – 1
NAVY – 0
GT – 1
NAVY – 59
GT – 20
Troy, Jack. “Jack Troy’s Play-by-Play.” The Atlanta Constitution. 1944 Oct. 22