Flashback: Montclair Tops Hampden-Sydney to Win 1970 NCAA Knute Rockne Bowl

The 1970 Montclair State Football Team captured the NCAA's East Region Championship as its edged Hampden-Sydney, 7-6 in the Knute Rockne Bowl played in Atlantic City's Convention Hall

Atlantic City, NJ (11/28/1970) – Behind the record-breaking performances of seniors Tony Valpone and John Brunelli, Montclair State squeezed past Hampden-Sydney 7-6 in the second annual Knute Rockne Bowl in the Convention Hall. The two defensive-oriented teams slugged it out before a crowd of 2,700 as the Indians claimed the title as NCAA College Division East Region champions.


Valpone scored Montclair’s lone touchdown finishing with 48 yards on 18 carries as head coach Clary Anderson’s team ended the year at 9-1, setting the school mark for season victories.Brunelli had three interceptions and came up with a huge play as he batted a two-point conversion pass that was finally wrestled away from two Hampden-Sydney receivers by defensive back Alex Kaplanovich.

Both teams entered the game with stingy defense as the Tigers  (9-2) allowed just 28 points over a nine-game span while Montclair had surrendered only 45 points in earning its way into an NCAA contest for the first time.

Yard were hard to come by as Montclair held Hampden-Sydney to just 45 yards of offense. Meanwhile the Indians didn’t fare much better but forced five turnovers. 

Scoreless through nearly three quarters, a fumble recovery by Bob Jensen gave Montclair the ball at the Hampden-Sydney 49. The Indians then drove to the 19 before Bob Brewster’s pass was intercepted by Butch Beverly, who stepped in front of Parker Snare for the pick. Beverly tumbled into the end zone but officials ruled him down at the one. 

The ruling turned out to be big as Montclair forced a punt from the three and took over at the Hampden-Sydney 27. Valpone busted through for 10 yards on the first play and Brewster hit Ronald Kascher for another fist down setting up Valpone’s tw-yard run. Brewster kicked the extra point and Montclair led  7-0 with 14:56 left in the game. 

Hampden-Sydney battled back taking advantage of a Montclair turnover at the Indians 16 setting up a one-yard plunge by freshman running back Tracy Powers with 6:23 to go. Hampden-Sydney head coach Stockeley Fulton decided to go for two points, but Kaplanovich spoiled the plan as he grabbed the “free” ball as it was batted out of the end zone. 

Brunelli did the rest as he intercepted two passes by quarterback Ricky Beale in the final five minutes.

In the first half, the Tigers had the best scoring chance that ended as Brunelli intercepted a pass at the Montclair 12. Montclair would get as close as the Hampden-Sydney 16, but the drive stalled and Brewster’s 26-yard field goal was short. The Tigers would later put together a 68-yard drive and attempted a 47-yard field goal. The kick by Paul Page was also short and the game was scoreless at the half.


Montclair State (9-1)00077
Hampden-Sydney (9-2)00066


RUSHES-YARDS (NET)57-10841-94
Passes Comp-Att.-Int.9-14-17-18-3
TOTAL OFFENSE71-18459-174
Kickoff Returns-Yards2-462-36
Interception Returns-Yards1-03-38
Punts (Number-Avg)10-35.99-40.1