Sid vs. the Cadets, Part III
Yankee Stadium was busy hosting Game 4 of the World Series on Oct. 9
Game of the Day (Day 72)
October 9, 1938
Columbia 20 Army 18
Sid Luckman made the most of his final chance to defeat the mighty Cadets with a stunning come-from-behind performance in front of 25,000 fans at West Point. It wasn't only the fact that Columbia came back, it was the way Luckman and the Lions did it.
Why were the Lions on the road again? With the Yankees back in the World Series, (this time against the Cubs), the October matchup between the Lions and the Cadets was once again slated for relatively tiny Michie Stadium. Baker Field actually held about 32,000 to 35,000 back in those days, but for some reason they agreed to head up the Hudson yet again. The Yanks actually were in the midst of the World Series in 1936 and 1937 as well, and in those years the games were against the New York Giants, making the Polo Grounds unavailable as well. Getting the game in at the Stadium in 1936 just five days after the Yanks had wrapped up the series against the Giants in six games must have been a challenge to the grounds crew.
Less than three minutes into the game, good ol' Woodrow Wilson had done it again for Army. He faked a pass and then scored on a 48-yard run for a 6-0 lead. Minutes later it was 12-0 after Columbia fumbled the ball away on its own 10 and the Cadets quickly converted for another touchdown.
The Lions showed some life early in the second quarter, when they capped off a 65-yard drive with a Luckman TD pass to John Siegal and the score was now 12-6. But Army stormed back with a 67-yard drive and another TD for the 18-6 lead. The only downside, it seemed, was that like Columbia had a year before, the Cadets had missed all three of their PAT attempts. Just as it did in 1937, that would be a key to the game.
But Columbia had to come back first, and that didn't seem likely when Army stormed out of the gates and drove the ball down to the Lions 38 before Luckman intercepted a pass to end the threat.
Another interception in the fourth quarter gave Columbia the ball at the Cadet 42 and then Sid went to work. He marched the Lions straight down the field and hit the extra point after a one-yard TD run by Gerhard Seidel to make it 18-13.
Army responded with a 55-yard drive all the way to the Lion nine before the Cadets were forced to try a field goal that missed.
Columbia took over at the 20, but chances still seemed pretty slim for the Lions. In those days offenses were too one dimensional for teams to pull off long drives. Marches of 70 yards of more were extremely rare. But Sid Luckman was a multifaceted offense all on his own.
First, Luckman nailed Art Radvilas for a 27-yard pass before getting sacked for a 10-yard loss back to his 37. Luckman found Siegal for 18 yards and two plays later, he hit Radvilas for a 23 yard strike that ended up putting his receiver in the hospital after the Army defenders crashed in to him at their 19. Luckman then rushed the ball twice for a gain of four and then a loss of six before hitting Siegal again for 18 yards and a first down at the three. Seidel took it in from there and with five minutes left, the Lions had their first lead of the day.
After losing two straight heartbreakers in 1936 and 1937, the Lions would not be denied in 1938 and the 20-18 lead held up.
For Sid Luckman, it was to be his greatest victory in a Columbia uniform.
When people talk about Columbia-Army, they usually focus on the miracle Lion win in 1947 at Baker Field that ended the Cadets record unbeaten streak. But the 1938 game was no less impressive, especially since it came at West Point.