Taking part in on a Yankee Stadium discipline that simply 5 days earlier than had hosted Recreation 7 of the World Collection and going through a group that hadn’t misplaced a recreation in practically 4 years, coach Ray Eliot’s sixth-ranked Illini soccer group was in New York Metropolis 73 years in the past on Sunday —Oct. 11, 1947 — battling No. 5 Military.
Coach Purple Blaik’s Cadets, the reigning three-time nationwide champs, have been within the midst of an unbeaten streak that dated all the best way again to their 1943 season finale once they misplaced to Navy.
Throughout that span of 1,413 days, Military had amassed a virtually good document of 29-0-1. The tie had additionally been at Yankee Stadium, a 0-0 draw towards Notre Dame.
The Illini have been a formidable group at the moment, driving an eight-game profitable streak that had included a 45-14 victory over UCLA within the 1947 Rose Bowl.
John “Jocko” Wrenn, now 98 years outdated and residing in Sarasota, Fla., was Illinois’ 25-year-old beginning left guard that day. After starting his collegiate profession at Shurtleff School, then serving for 3 years throughout World Conflict II with the eightieth Infantry Division as an Military medic, he finally transferred to Illinois. Wrenn mentioned the veteran-laden Illini weren’t in any respect star-struck by the legendary stadium, the large crowd of 65,000 followers that was in attendance or their illustrious opponent.
“We have been simply concentrating on profitable the sport,” Wrenn mentioned. “Military had a extremely good group in these days. They’d all of these nice recruits who, as a substitute of going into service, went to the army academy.”
On this crisp October afternoon, Wrenn lined up throughout from Military All-American and future School Soccer Corridor of Famer Joe Steffy.
“He was a troublesome opponent,” Wrenn remembered. “Neither one in all us ever got here out of the sport that day. I recall being completely whipped when it was over.”
Illinois had an opportunity to interrupt the defensive wrestle with simply 10 seconds left within the first half, having pushed 51 yards from its personal 27-yard line to the Military 22-yard line in 14 performs. The important thing efforts in the course of the advance have been a 9-yard run by Dike Eddleman and an 18-yard scramble by Ruck Steger that took the ball from the Military 24 to the 6-yard line. Nonetheless, the Cadet protection stiffened, forcing Eliot to ship in Don Maechtle to strive a discipline aim. However Lou Levanti’s cross from middle to holder Tommy Gallagher wasn’t on course. Maechtle was in a position to get the kick within the air, but it surely was low and to the left of the uprights. It could turn into the Illini’s finest probability to attain all day.
Military’s foremost alternative to attain got here when it returned an Eddleman punt 18 yards to the Illinois 24-yard line. Nonetheless, UI’s line of defense of Wrenn, Al Mastrangeli and Levanti stiffened and the Illini have been in a position to recapture the ball on downs.
A nasty break nullified one last Illini try to attain late within the recreation when Eddleman evaded 4 tacklers to return a punt 39 yards to the Military 16. However officers referred to as clipping on the play and the ball was introduced again to mid discipline.
When the ultimate gun sounded, the scoreboard confirmed a 0-0 draw. It prolonged Military’s unbeaten streak to 31 video games, although the Cadets would lastly lose two weeks later at Columbia, 21-20. The Illini cut up their final six video games of 1947 and ended with a 5-3-1 document.
Wrenn went on to a 12-year highschool teaching profession at East Moline after which a school stint as an assistant below Howard Fletcher at Northern Illinois. He additionally coached the Huskies’ wrestling and tennis groups and was inducted into the NIU Athletics Corridor of Fame in 2004. Wrenn lives together with his spouse of 46 years, Betty. His son, John Wrenn Jr., served as Mike White’s huge receivers coach at Illinois from 1985-86.
Illini BirthdaysSunday: Reggie Love III, soccer (19)
Monday: Yuval Ayalon, gymnastics (47)
Tuesday: E.B. Halsey, soccer (37)
Wednesday: Katie Coleman, basketball (42)
Thursday: Scott Weaver, soccer (47)
Friday: Taylor Barton, soccer (27)
Saturday: Oliver Williams, soccer (60)
By Mike Pearson, writer of Illini Legends, Lists & Lore (Third Version now stocked in shops). Get extra Illini birthdays, trivia and historic tidbits every day on Twitter @IlliniLegends and @B1GLLL. His web site is www.SportsLLL.com. Additionally, in case you’ve bought an Illini SuperFan in your loved ones who will quickly be celebrating a ‘milestone’ birthday, we’d like to try to embrace them in our weekly birthday checklist that all the time runs with our ‘Legends, Lists and Lore,’ entries. Electronic mail their title, age and hometown to Mike Pearson at email@example.com.