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Former Irish QB Frank Tripucka dies at age 85

Observer Staff Report | Thursday, September 12, 2013


Former Irish quarterback Frank Tripucka, 85, died of congenital heart issues Thursday morning at his home in Woodland Park, N.J.

Tripucka, originally from Bloomfield, N.J., spent his first three seasons at Notre Dame behind 1947 Heisman Trophy winner John Lujack on the depth chart. In Tripucka’s senior campaign in 1948, he quarterbacked the Irish to a 9-0-1 record while completing 53 of 91 passes for 660 yards and 11 touchdowns, which set a Notre Dame single-season record. The Irish moved into the top spot in the Associated Press poll two games into the season and finished second in the final poll behind Michigan after Notre Dame tied its regular-season finale against USC, 14-14.

In Tripucka’s final three seasons in South Bend, the Irish compiled a 26-0-2 mark and claimed consensus national titles in 1946 and 1947. Tripucka finished his collegiate career 80-for-141 for 1,122 yards, 14 touchdowns and just one interception.

Following the season, Tripucka played in the College All-Star Game and went on to become a first-round selection by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1949 NFL Draft. He played with five NFL teams and two Canadian Football League (CFL) squads through 1963.

Tripucka spent four seasons with the Denver Broncos and was one of four original selections to the Bronco Ring of Honor in 1984.

Tripucka’s son Kelly played basketball at Notre Dame and helped the Irish to the 1978 Final Four. Kelly led Notre Dame in scoring as a sophomore and senior and earned All-America honors in each of his final three seasons.

Funeral arrangements are pending.