The Spartans' 1949 visit to Ames

Photo: University of Dubuque Archives, Special Collections

The University of Dubuque had a good football team in 1948.  The Spartans went 7-1 and won the Iowa Conference championship.  Expectations were for another good season for legendary coach Kenneth "Moco" Mercer's club in 1949.  There was even talk about keeping it close, or even pullling an upset as the season opened with a date in Ames.

Iowa State had posted a 4-6 1948 record and hosted UD to open the '49 campaign on September 17th.  The difference between a Big 7 conference team and the champions of a small, Iowa Conference were apparent quickly, and the Cyclones cruised to a 64-0 win at Clyde Williams Field.  Attendance that day was 6,918.

1940s era ISU Football
Photo: Iowa State Athletic Communications

The UD student newspaper referred to the game as a "hollocaust," and the same description was used to commemorate the loss in the UD yearbook's 1949 season review.  University of Dubuque officials tell me that they have game film archived.  It would be fascinating to see now, but I doubt anyone found much reason to watch it during Coache Mercer's years.

The Spartans went on to a 6-2 '49 season, but fell short of repeating as conference champs.  Iowa State finished the year 5-3-1, with losses to Missouri, Oklahoma, and Nebraska, plus a tie at Illinois.

Photo: University of Dubuque Archives, Special Collections

Managing to get a game at a major conference in-state opponent is just one in a long list of stories about Moco Mercer who led The Spartans to 95 football victories while coaching from 1939-1962 (95-65-6).  Mercer also coached basketball at UD compiling a record of 122-41 in 11 seasons, and later also coached wrestling, cross country, and track.  He had at least one undefeated season in every sport he coached.  Prior to his time in Dubuque, Mercer played in the National Football League leading the league in scoring from 1927 - 1929.

Kenneth "Moco" Mercer retired in March of 1969 and died in February of 1970.

The 1948 UD Football team
Photo: University of Dubuque Archives, Special Collections

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