The photograph is a jewel. Number 33, Merlin Kispert, glides through the air, in between two blockers doing their level best against the Wildcat defenders. I have no idea what the result of this play is. Maybe it helped save the game from being a defeat, maybe a second later number 33 got crushed by a defender who is just out of the shot. The closeness of the photo and the moment that is captured represents why I love these old photographs, they tell part of a story and let you imagine the rest.
The story I can tell you is the AP recap from the game on November 4, 1944.
Northwestern And Gophers Play Tie
Both Teams Show Decided Weakness On Defense End 14 All Deadlock
Minneapolis, Nov. 4 (AP)—In a fine display of offensive football but with both teams showing a marked defensive weakness. Northwestern battled Minnesota to a 14-all deadlock here today in the Gophers' annual homecoming contest.
Northwestern outplayed the Gophers after the first quarter and Minnesota was held without a single first down in the final two periods. The Wildcats had two touchdowns runs by Henry Altpeter, one for 74-yards and the other for 20 recalled because Northwestern offside.
Both teams scored in the first period after receiving their initial kickoffs. Minnesota paraded from the 29 to score, with Kulbitski going over from the one. Williams placekicked goal.
After the next kickoff, Northwestern drove 88-yards from their own 2 to even the count.
The Gophers took the lead again the third period when Northwestern elected to carry the ball on fourth down on their own 48 and lost it. Williams, on the first play, cleared the field for the distance to score and then placekicked goal.
Northwestern moved into the final to late in the third period when they plowed from the Minnesota 45, aided by two Minnesota penalties.
The year, 1944 was a disappointing season for the Gophers. With World War II raging, Bernie Bierman and many players had left campus to help. Alumnus George Hauser had stepped in to coach Minnesota, and his 1944 campaign was dismal going 5-3-1. The only upside I can see from that year is this photo and wins to end the season against Iowa and Wisconsin.