Jan. 1, 1925
PASADENA, Calif. — With the fabled Four Horsemen making their final appearance together, Notre Dame ventured to the distant West Coast and proved its worth by downing Stanford 27-10 in the 1925 Rose Bowl. The win gave Notre Dame a 10-0 record for the 1924 season and the national championship.
Although Pop Warner’s Indians won the battle of the statistics – besting Notre Dame in virtually every offensive category – the Irish, coached by Knute Rockne, capitalized on Stanford miscues and came up on top on the scoreboard.
Stanford opened the scoring in the first quarter as Murray Cuddeback kicked a 27-yard field goal. But that was all the Indians could manage until late in the game when the outcome was almost assured.
Elmer Layden shone as a sparkling jewel in the Notre Dame crown all afternoon. The skinny fullback scored three touchdowns for the Irish, including two on interception returns. He also helped the Notre Dame cause with his punting that forced Stanford into poor field position on many occasions.
Layden’s first score, a three-yard plunge across the goal line, capped a 46-yard drive by Notre Dame. Although Jim Crowley’s kick failed, Notre Dame owned a 6-3 lead early in the second quarter.
Late in the second period, Layden stunned the capacity crowd of 53,000 in the Rose Bowl by intercepting an Ernie Nevers pass and galloping downfield for 78 yards for another touchdown. This time Crowley, another one of the Horsemen, converted the extra-point attempt.
Even though the stronger, more physical Stanford Indians were controlling the line play, Rockne’s swift and crafty Irish kept putting points on the scoreboard.
Late in the third quarter, Stanford fumbled an Elmer Layden punt on its own 20-yard line. A quick-thinking Ed Hunsinger picked up the ball and ran untouched into the end zone for another Notre Dame score. With Crowley’s kick, Notre Dame held a commanding 20-3 lead.
Stanford finally staged a late rally and threatened to dash the Irish hopes of a Midwest victory. Nevers, a star on both offense and defense, provided the heroics as he intercepted a Notre Dame pass on the Stanford 20-yard line, thwarting an Irish scoring drive. He then guided the Indians downfield to the Notre Dame seven. Another Stanford back, Ed Walker, passed to Ted Shipkey, a two-way star for the Indians, for the score. Cuddeback’s kick brought Stanford back to within 10 points at 20-10.
The Indians moved into scoring territory again in the final stanza. Nevers brought Stanford all the way to the Notre Dame eight-inch line. But an inspired Irish line made a superb defensive stance on Nevers’ final plunge, and the Notre Dame advantage stayed intact.
Notre Dame crossed the goal line a final time with only 30 seconds left in the contest that was played in 89-degree heat. Layden again intercepted a Nevers pass and took it 70 yards into the end zone. Crowley added the final touches with his kick.
Layden and Crowley proved the Irish standouts of the afternoon, but the two other Horsemen- Don Miller and quarterback Harry Stuhldreher-also played a big part in the Notre Dame win. Stuhldreher broke an ankle early in the contest but continued to play despite the painful injury. Captain Adam Walsh anchored the line play at center.
The story of the game proved to be Notre Dame’s penchant for turning Stanford mistakes into Notre Dame scores.
“It is true that we got the breaks, but we would have won anyway,” said Rockne. “It is one thing to get the breaks and another thing to take advantage of them. Stanford played a wonderful game, but we won fairly, playing the ball as it came to us, and we hope to be given credit for that.”