1954 Football Season Recap

Carleton's Last Undefeated Football Team

On September 18th, Coach Wally Hass unveiled the 1954 edition of the Carleton Knights. Picked by pre-season dopesters to finish seventh in the Midwestern Conference, the Carls surprised everyone but themselves with a comparatively easy 21-6 victory over Cornell. Petesy Voss exploded off tackle on the first play from scrimmage for 59 yards and a touchdown. Cornell tallied a few plays and the teams left the field at halftime with the score 7-6 in the Carls' favor. In the second half, the scrappy line play of McAuliffe, Grein, Machacek,Timmerman and Lindekugel determined the final outcome enabling Scott and Voss to score.

Paced by two spectacular pass receptions and a superb defensive performance, the Carls downed Knox 14-7. With an impressive and fiery showing, the Maize and Blue outplayed the Knoxmen by a vast margin. In the first half the Knights took the ball on the Knox 43 and drove and passed to their first score. Late in the fourth quarter the Carls hit paydirt on a crucial fourth down play with nine minutes remaining, culminating in a 62-yard drive.

The opportunist Carls continued on their merry way by downing a fine Monmouth club 20-0 in a rain-soaked Laird Stadium on Homecoming. A Scott-to-Voss pass was successful for the first score early in the game. The second and third quarters turned into a sloshy defensive battle, but in the fourth quarter the Carls exploded for 13 more points. The win enabled the surprising Carls to remain in first place in the conference, and set the stage for the traditional "Goat" game against the Oles the following Saturday.

In a great example of team effort and spirit, the Carleton Knights battled to a 14-13 victory over the Oles in a game never to be forgotten. Through most of the first quarter, the game was an excellent punting duel between Bob Scott of the Carls and Dick Werdahl of the Oles. St. Olaf started the scoring with three minutes remaining in the first period with a left end sweep by Whitey Brekken. The conversion attempt by Err Mikkelson went wide off its mark. Late in the second quarter a Scott-to-Grein pass was deflected in the end zone right into the waiting arms of junior end Bill Copeland. Smebakken's toe found its mark and the Carls took over the lead. Mid-third quarter the Oles caught the Carleton defense sleeping and Brekken scored again on a fine 53-yard run. With the score standing at 13-7 in the waning minutes of the game, the Knights put on a drive that carried them to the Ole two-yard line only to lose the ball on a fumble. On the first play, the Oles ran from their own two and were rushed collectively by sophomore guard John Sheagren and seniors Dick Lindekugel, Dick Grein and Ted Smebakken. Ball-carrier Lee Simso was hit so hard he fumbled in the end-zone where Sheagren recovered for the TD. Smebakken's all-important extra point split the uprights and the Carls had a one-point win over the defending conference champions.

In a game highlighted by many scoring opportunities and few scores, Carleton drove closer to the Midwest title with a 16-6 victory over Grinnell. Grinnell, paced by Nick Ryan, moved 94 yards in two plays to open the scoring. Early in the second period, the Carls tied the score on a 22-yard jaunt by Smebakken and three line plunges by Bill Kelley. A Scott-to-Voss pass was complete for six more. Late in the second quarter Smebakken clinched the Carl victory with the Knights' first field goal since 1940.

Grabbing their fifth straight victory before a Parents' Day crowd of 4,500 the Carls downed Coe 20-14. The locals assumed a 13-7 lead shortly before the half on a line plunge by Smebakken and a 27-yard Scott-to-Grein pass. The Kohawks fought back in the third quarter with Shady Day tossing a 13-yard aerial for the score. The conversion gave Coe the lead again at 14-13. But the Carls were not to be denied as they marched 74 yards for the last tally and victory.

The surprising Carls clinched the Midwest Conference Championship with a tight 14-7 decision over the favored Lawrence Vikings. A Scott-to-Grein pass was good for six late in the second quarter and Smebakken's conversion was good. On the opening kick-off of the second half, halfback Voss broke away for 85 yards untouched and another Carl score. The conversion was good. From this point, Carleton was constantly on the defense as numerous fumbles kept them in the hole. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Lawrence drove over and converted to make the score read 14-7. They threatened again and again in the waning moments, but the Carls' pass defense and rock-ribbed forward wall stymied the Vikings to assure Carleton its first Midwest Conference Championship since 1936.

Climaxing their first undefeated grid season in 38 years, the Carls outclasses the Ripon Redmen 20-6. The Scott-to-Grein combination early in the first quarter paid off for six. Scott picked off a Wayne Pinkalla aerial to open another scoring attack and a repetition of the same gave the Carls a 20-0 lead. Truly this year was one of upsets and hard-won victories; we salute the driving courage of the team that wouldn't give up.

Excerpted from the 1955 Algol

The Record

Carleton 21 Cornell 7

Carleton 14 Knox 7

Carleton 20 Monmouth 0

Carleton 14 St. Olaf 13

Carleton 20 Coe 14

Carleton 16 Grinnell 6

Carleton 14 Lawrence 7

Carleton 20 Ripon 6