...There's no question of Komives's ability. He is the anchor of the line. The problem is lack of depth behind him, and Blackman may have to do some switching to shore up the spot.
September 21, 1964; Sports Illustrated...
"The Ivy League is swarming with contenders. Take, for instance, DARTMOUTH, the defending co-champion, and HARVARD. Dartmouth's Bob Blackman, who likes to tantalize opponents with tricky variations of his V formation and a nervous, jitterbugging line, lost 18 lettermen but he has his usual collection of hard, uncompromising types, among them Center Bob Komives, Guard Ted Bracken and End Tom Clarke. They are the core of an excellent line. If Dartmouth can muster an offense around new Quarterback Bruce Gottschall, the Indians could surprise both Yale and Princeton. ... "
Harvard Crimson, November 30, 1964 “… named to the Associated Press's All-Ivy team. ...
The offensive line included John Parry (Brown) and Bob Kenney (Yale) at ends,
Ernie Pascarella (Princeton) and Duke Grkovic (Cornell) at tackle,
Ed Keible (Dartmouth) and Chuck Benoit (Yale) at guard,
and Bob Komives (Dartmouth) at center. ...”
“ Ivy Champs of 1963 Knew How to Win ”
Dartmouth, 11-9-2009, By Jack DeGange
How do you improve on an undefeated season?
As far as Dartmouth's 1963 football team was concerned, the answer was simple: Do it again. That proved easier said than done, but when twilight settled on Princeton's Palmer Stadium on the last day of November, eight points were all that separated the Green from another undefeated season. A dramatic 22-21 victory over the Tigers had given Coach Bob Blackman's team a share of the Ivy League title with an overall record of 7-2 (5-2 in Ivy games).
In 1962, Dartmouth had a 9-0 record, the Green's first undefeated season since 1925 when the College on the Hill was 8-0 and acclaimed as national champion. There were many regulars from that team on hand as Dartmouth prepared to defend its Ivy crown and extend a winning streak that had begun in 1961, stood at 11 straight as the season began and would reach 15 before a pair of four-point losses at Harvard and Yale put the Green's championship hopes in doubt.
Gone from the 1962 team were four of five All-Ivy performers: quarterback Bill King, All-America center-linebacker Don McKinnon, guard Ed Boies and tackle Bill Blumenschein. The only one returning was halfback Tom Spangenberg who spent most of the 1963 season coping with a chronic ankle injury.
Spangenberg was one of 19 seniors, the nucleus of this 1963 team. They had arrived on campus in 1960 and built a 6-0 record with the freshman team. They had finished 6-3 in 1961 and runner-up to co-champs Harvard and Columbia in the Ivy race. They had contributed measurably to the undefeated-untied season in 1962.
Scott Creelman, the end and captain from Melrose, Mass., had missed most of the 1961 season (including the three losses) due to injury. When Harvard finally ended Dartmouth's 15-game win streak with a 17-13 win, it was the first time in 32 games, extending from his junior year in high school, that Creelman had been on the field in a losing effort.
"We never doubted ourselves," said Creelman. "I can never recall going into a game that we didn't think we could win."
That attitude was crucial in 1963. With the exception of a deceptive 28-0 win over Penn (the Quakers lost the ball five times inside Dartmouth's 20) and a 47-6 cruise at Columbia, the other seven games were decided by seven points or less.
"This Dartmouth team has the same mental attitude as last year's," said Blackman as he prepped for the opener against Bucknell. "It's not a real noisy group but it has good spirit. It has physical potential with fairly good depth. The question is whether any really outstanding stars will develop."
As it turned out, there weren't many stars to compare with King and McKinnon from a year earlier. But there was a corps of meteors who made a difference. This was a team that would be dogged by injuries, a circumstance that led to a number of young players stepping up to gain experience that proved crucial in the season's closing weeks.
Depth mattered in a season when the starters were two-way performers on offense and defense. "We still had the White (starters), Gold (second unit) and Bandits (third team)," said Creelman, "but because of the close games the starters played a lot more than in 1962. "And, guys kept getting hurt. We had lots of injuries. You have to credit the coaches for bringing the younger guys along. It helped a lot late in the season against Cornell and Princeton."
As the season began the starters were Creelman and Chuck Greer at end, Jan Dephouse and Dale Runge at tackle, Bill Curran and Ed Keible at guard and Bob Komives at center. All were seniors except Keible and Komives, both juniors.
The quarterback was senior Dana Kelly who had attempted 16 passes as King's backup in 1962. While he didn't have King's flash, Kelly would complete 88 of 148 passes (59 percent) and become Dartmouth's second 1,000-yard passer in a season. His 1,062 yards surpassed King's year-old record of 1,043 yards.
Despite being dogged by his cranky ankle, Spangenberg still led the Green's rushers with 468 yards in 117 carries. Junior halfback Jack McLean and senior fullback Tom Parkinson rounded out the backfield. McLean, who would be the captain in 1964, was second to Spangenberg as a runner (313 yards) and behind only Creelman's 435 receiving yards. McLean had 231 yards with 20 catches and also teamed with Spangenberg on kickoff returns. As the season progressed, seniors Dave Lawson and Chris Vancura, plus junior Bob O'Brien and sophomore Mike Urbanic, would prove to be key contributors.
The tone for what sports information director Ernie Roberts dubbed a "Perils of Pauline" season was established as Bucknell came to Memorial Field, a game decided by missed extra points and the big hand of Keible, playing his first game at linebacker.
Dartmouth's 13-0 halftime lead was cut to 13-12 but Greer's interception set up Kelly's plunge to make it 20-13 in the fourth period. With two minutes to play, Don Rodgers hit end Tom Mitchell (who would go on to play 11 seasons in the NFL) on a 69-yard pass to make it 20-18.
Keible, who had been injured early in the game (sufficiently to warrant a trip to Mary Hitchcock Hospital where doctors said he was OK to resume play--an ambulance rushed him back to Memorial Field), knocked down Rodgers' pass for a two-point conversion to preserve the win. Noted Blackman, "We're not going to win on reputation."
At Philadelphia, Penn was shut out for the fourth straight year, 28-0, as Creelman scored twice on passes from Kelly and Dave Perenchief returned a punt 55 yards for the last TD.
Next, Brown came to Hanover and Dartmouth dodged another bullet. The Bears hadn't scored a point against Dartmouth since 1956, though a scoreless tie in 1959 cost the Green a share of the Ivy title. Dartmouth led 14-0 when Brown scored and then recovered an onside kick. The Bears reached the Green 14 where Parkinson knocked down a pass to preserve the 14-7 win.
There were 14,000 fans at Memorial Field to see Holy Cross take an 8-7 halftime lead with a two-point conversion. The entire second half was played in the Holy Cross end of the field and a nifty 13-yard cross-field touchdown pass from Kelly to O'Brien finished what began as a halfback sweep by O'Brien. The 13-8 win gave Dartmouth the nation's longest winning streak - 15 straight.
Perfection ended at Harvard, 17-13, and frustration continued a week later at Yale where the Green lost five fumbles and had a pass intercepted in a 10-6 loss.
The largest Dartmouth-Harvard crowd since 1931 (38,000) saw Dartmouth hold a 7-0 halftime, preserved when the half ended with Harvard at the Dartmouth one-yard line. The Crimson scored twice in the third period, then ate up eight minutes (after an interception) before kicking a field goal in the final period. Parkinson and Greer went down with injuries in the first half and Spangenberg saw limited action (Dartmouth rushed for only 56 yards in the game).
"Any place but here," said Creelman as his personal win streak ended after 31 games and the Crimson faithful waved their white hankies.
After Yale had hung on for its narrow win, Blackman said, "We out-rushed them, out-passed them and out-fumbled them and that was the ball game."
Columbia had played Harvard to a 3-3 tie and lost in the last minute at Cornell, 18-17, but the Lions were no match as Dartmouth rolled to a 47-6 win in New York. Kelly outshone Columbia's fine quarterback, Archie Roberts. He completed 10 of 16 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown to earn Ivy player-of-the-week honors.
Like Roberts, Cornell QB Gary Wood would go on to play in the NFL. His 38-yard pass gave Cornell a 7-3 lead that stood up until early in the final period when he went out with a hip injury and Dartmouth rallied at Memorial Field. Spangenberg scored the go-ahead touchdown but McLean was the hero of the 63-yard drive. He gained 39 yards on a pass-and-run from Kelley and ran for nine more yards. Gary Wilson's first career field goal had started the Green scoring and a safety on the last play of the game capped a 12-7 nailbiter.
Entering the season's final week, the Ivy race was up for grabs and Dartmouth needed help. Princeton (5-1) held the top rung over Harvard (4-1-1) and Dartmouth (4-2). To share the title, Dartmouth had to beat Princeton while Yale beat Harvard.
That's what would happen but: The Green, en route to Princeton, were holding their final workout at the Bear Mountain resort in New York on November 22 when they (and the world) learned of the assassination of President John Kennedy. Across the nation, football (except in the NFL) was suspended for a week. There were 35,000 fans at cold, wind-swept Palmer Stadium on November 30. Dartmouth took a 7-0 lead but, after three periods, Princeton had pounded out a comfortable 21-7 lead. The final period, spent in Tiger territory, became one of the great 15 minutes in Dartmouth football history.
Spangenberg's runs, including a two-yarder for the TD and his two-point conversion run, made it a six-point game. "Now it was 21-15 and I was confident we'd catch them," said Blackman. Princeton's bad punt snap gave Dartmouth the ball at the Tiger 20 but a drive was stopped at the one-yard line. It was Princeton's ball but not for long as senior Dave DeCalestra, subbing for Curran in the line, etched his name into Dartmouth football history. On third down at the Princeton eight, DeCalestra was unblocked and plowed into Cosmo Iacavazzi, jarring the ball from the Princeton tailback's grasp. End Allin Pierce slapped the ball toward the Princeton goal. Creelman recovered at the two-yard line. On first down, McLean swept around left end to make it 21-21 and Gary Woodrow Wilson added the decisive extra point.
The win was the 100th in Blackman's career as a head coach but it was Curran, the All-Ivy guard (Creelman and Spangenberg were also All-Ivy first team in 1963), who feels the credit for his team's success should be shared. "As a two-way lineman we were superbly prepared by (assistant coach) Jack Musick (later the head coach at Cornell): his knowledge of our opponents and method of teaching us techniques, and the gentlemanly way he treated us. We didn't want to fail him."
In the locker room, Dartmouth learned that Yale had banished Harvard, 20-6, leaving Dartmouth atop the final standings with Princeton. It's worth noting that Princeton wouldn't lose another game until the final game of the 1965 season when Dartmouth would complete a perfect season (and win the Lambert Trophy as the East's outstanding team) with a 28-14 win.
Dartmouth had another Ivy title that didn't surprise Parkinson, the fullback-defensive back who measured the team's approach, "Winning was basically all most of us knew."
Jack DeGange, a freelance writer, was Dartmouth's sports information director from 1968-77.