Football Short Story
Lonely End
Strange But True Football Stories, Compiled by Zander Hollander (1967)
As Army went into the last game of the 1957 season, the Cadets appeared to be headed toward an extremely successful year. They had lost their third game of the season, a tough 23-21 defeat at the hands of a strong Notre Dame team, but five victories had followed. Then on that last Saturday, in Philadelphia's Municipal Stadium, more than 100,000 fans watched Navy beat Army, 14-0. The fact that Navy was Army's bitter rival made the defeat even more painful.
"That's the game you think about all winter," said Earl "Red" Blaik, the Army coach.
As a result of the defeat, Colonel Blaik set about devising a new offensive strategy. In 1958 Army would be strong again, but so would Navy. Blaik wanted to have a good season, of coure. But even more important, he wanted Army to avenge its loss.

L-R: Bill Carpenter; Carpenter flanked far out to the right for Army.
In Colonel Blaik's strategy one man played a crucial role. He was a previously undistin­guished end named William Stanley Carpenter. As a sophomore in 1957, Carpenter had been injured and had seen action in just four games. Bob Anderson, an All-America half­back, and Pete Dawkins were the leaders of the team. In fact, not too many people outside of Carpenter's close friends knew that Bill was even on the team.
"He was a good cadet who liked the spit and polish of West Point life," Anderson said.
Besides being a diligent cadet, the 6-foot 2-inch, 205-pound Carpenter was a fine lacrosse player.
"I needed a player who was strong, smart and agile. Most of all he had to be able to handle the possible pressures," Colonel Blaik said.
On September 27, 1958, Blaik's new tactics were revealed for the first time. Army was playing South Carolina, a weak team, so the Cadets had a chance to experiment before the later, more important games.
Joe Caldwell, the Cadet quarterback, came on the field for the first play, and the offense lined up in front of him for the play call and the signal number. They bent down and listened to his call. But the spectators noticed something odd–one player wasn't in the huddle. He was 15 yards away from the huddle, his hands on his hips, his eyes glued to the movement of the Army quarterback.
The reporters in the press box at Army's Michie Stadium scanned their program. The de­tached player was number 87, end Bill Carpenter.
Throughout the game, by some mysterious method, Carpenter was able to follow the play, decide if it was a pass or run, and carry out his assignment without going near the hud­dle. His uncanny ability upset the South Carolina defense and served as a psychological weapon.
"ARMY USES LONELY END" headlined the newspaper the day after the Cadets overwhelmed South Carolina, 45-8. Under Blaik's leadership, Army went on to beat Penn State, Notre Dame and Virginia. Then Army was tied by Pittsburgh, 14-14. After that, in quick succession, Colgate, Rice and Villanova went down to defeat. And finally the Cadets gained their revenge on Navy for the 1957 loss.
Carpenter was the big story of the year. How did he get his signals? Who told him where to run on plays? What could the defense do to stop him?
His classmates at West Point kidded him about staying away from the huddle, suggesting that the real cause might be bad breath.
The "Lonely End," who wasn't really lonely at all with that amount of attention, was collect­ing fan mail by the sackful. "Most of it," he said, "came from girls. They all volunteered to be my friend. I even got some letters from Lonely Hearts clubs."
In January of 1959, Colonel Blaik, who was retiring from West Point, revealed the details of his Lonely End strategy at a dinner of the Touchdown Club of New York. He began by ex­plaining the complicated signal system.
"Caldwell [the quarterback] signals Carpenter with his feet. Two feet together means a run; left out front, also a run; right foot out front, a pass. Carpenter then signals Caldwell by rubbing his nose of tugging on his helmet. That revealed where he should run."
The audience was shocked at the explanation.
"Simple, wasn't it?" said Blaik.
"It was so simple I should have thought of it," said Eddie Erdelatz, the Navy coach.
The secret of the Lonely End was out. All the oppo­sing coaches knew what to watch for, and everyone imagined that Carpenter would have to come back into the huddle.

Bill Carpenter looks to the huddle and receives the next play call.
In 1959, Dale Hall, a former Army quarterback, took over as head coach. The football coaches of other schools could scarcely wait for Army's first game, against Boston College.
With the first offensive play, Carpenter, now a senior and the team captain, moved out 15 yards. Surprisingly, he would play is solitary role again. But it was thought that since oppo­sing teams knew how he got his signals, he would be easily stopped. Boston College failed to do so, however. In that game Carpenter caught nine passes for 140y and two touch­downs.
For the next six games, Carpenter caught passes, blocked, and led the team in yards gained. Then in the Villanova game, he suffered a dislocated shoulder. This meant he would probably be sitting on the bench for the game against Oklahoma. Instead, his shoulder was strapped to his body and he caught six passes for 67y as Army was defeated by a close 28-20. Carpenter ended his football career in the game against Navy. Although the Middies won, 43-12, they couldn't stop the Lonely End. He caught four passes for 93y and a touch­down.
In June of 1960, Carpenter graduated from West Point and the Lonely End era was over. He had been picked for every major All-America team and had established five pass-catching records. He had also been appointed a cadet battalion commander and had won a special award for "Inspirational Personal Courage" in athletcs. His old coach, Colonel Blaik, said, "Bill Carpenter has the mentality for doing the unusual. He will make a fine officer."
"Someday," predicted his teammate Bob Anderson, "Bill Carpenter will be Army Chief of Staff."
Six years later, in Vietnam, for the heroic rescue of the men under his command, Captain William Carpenter was awarded the Silver Star and recommended for the Congressional Medal of Honor.