When you watch the Rose Bowl Jan. 1 as the University of Washington takes on Ohio State, the date will mark the 100th anniversary for a Rose Bowl Championship team from Naval Station Great Lakes.
On Jan. 1, 1919, the Greal Lakes Navy Bluejacket football team defeated Mare Island 17-0 at Pasadena, California’s Tournament Park, the venue for the first eight Rose Bowl football games. The win capped off a 6-0-2 season for the Bluejackets.
As many young men went off to serve in World War I, many college teams didn’t have players. The Pasadena Tournament of Roses committee staged the game with Great Lakes playing a Marine detachment team from the Mare Island Naval Base, which was closed in 1995.
Great Lakes’ team feature future Hall of Famer George Halas, who founded the Chicago Bears and was instrumental in founding the NFL. Paddy Driscoll and Jimmy Conzelman, also Hall of Famers, played for Great Lakes, too. Driscoll played for the Racine (named for the Chicago street not the Wisconsin city) and Chicago Cardinals. Conzelman played and coached for numerous NFL teams.
In the Rose Bowl, according to its records, Driscoll opened the scoring with a 30-yard field goal in the first period and the Bluejackets took a 10-0 at halftime when Bloody Reeves scored from two yards out while Hugh Blalock booted the extra point.
Halas, who was the game’s MVP, concluded the scoring in the third quarter, catching a 32-yard touchdown pass from Driscoll. He also returned an interception 77 yards to thwart a Marte Island drive but did not score on the play. In 2013, he was named to the Rose Bowlk Game’s All-Century class.
The Great Lakes team also scored victories over Iowa, Illinois, Rutgers, the Naval Academy and Purdue. They tied Northwestern (0-0) and Notre Dame (7-7) during the 1918 regular season.