The Wolfpacker

January 2019

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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86 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY TIM PEELER L ast year, when four former NC State quarterbacks were ready to take on starting roles for NFL teams, the Wolfpack rightfully adopted the hashtag #QBU. Not only were Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson, Mike Glennon and Jacoby Brissett ready to roll, they were part of a successful club of Wolfpack professional quarterbacks that also included Roman Gabriel and Erik Kramer. So imagine my surprise when I learned that Gabriel, the two-time All-American and two-time ACC Player of the Year who was the No. 2 selection in the 1962 NFL Draft, was not the first NC State alum to become a starting quarterback at the game's highest level. That distinction belongs to Coleman "Coley" McDonough of North Braddock, Pa. His story is compelling, from its aus- picious beginning to its tragic end, in the circuitous route he took from Pittsburgh to Raleigh to Dayton to the Battle of the Bulge back to the shadow of his hometown, where he found his greatest glory and his heroic demise. Preliminary searches didn't reveal his name on the school's letterman list or in the school yearbook. Buried, however, deep in the school newspaper archives were details of the 1935 freshman team, one of the best in school history, thanks to a handful of players who went on to have NFL success. The most recognizable name on freshman coach Bob Warren's team was Little Artie Rooney, the first cousin of Big Art Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates/Steelers. McDonough was the starting quarterback throughout the season, though Rooney and Kenneth Sands did most of the playmaking in the T-formation offense. Freshman coach Bob Warren's team was practically unstop- pable, posting a 4-1 record and outscoring its opponents 146-21. Following the 1935 football season, NC State, North Carolina and several other southern schools adopted UNC System president Frank Porter Graham's short- lived plan to severely diminish competitive football on college campuses. Not surprisingly, McDonough and sev- eral other promising players left the Wolf- pack program. McDonough transferred to Dayton. As one of two star halfbacks, Mc- Donough helped the Flyers' varsity post back-to-back 7-2 marks in 1937 and '38 in the Buckeye Athletics Association, but he was dismissed from the team in 1939 for breaking the ironclad team rule of get- ting married — to the sister of his fellow halfback. The beefy 6-2, 210-pound signal-caller played for two NFL teams in 1939, the Chicago Cardinals and Rooney's Pittsburgh Pirates. McDonough played 10 games over the next two seasons for the renamed Steel- ers, but did not play in either 1942 or '43 after being drafted into military service. He returned to the NFL in 1944 as a member of an unusual blended team. The year before, because of wartime talent de- pletion, the Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles merged to form the "Steagles," a partnership that lasted less than a year. The next season, the Chicago Cardinals and Steelers merged into a team called Card-Pitt, splitting their home games be- tween Wrigley Field and Forbes Field. Six days before the second game of the season, McDonough was recalled into the Army and shipped overseas just in time for the Battle of the Bulge, which he survived as a tank destroyer commander for the 740th tank battalion. After he left the Army, he worked for the Pennsylvania bridges department and joined the Pittsburgh Police Department in 1950. On the night of July 5, 1965, McDonough and his partner answered a routine domestic disturbance call in the rundown Pittsburgh neighborhood of Hazelwood. As he entered the home, McDonough discovered the dead body of the homeowner, whose underage daughter had been arguing with her boy- friend, 25-year-old Leroy Scott. Scott shot McDonough six times with a .22 caliber repeating rifle, while two other officers were injured by gunfire. Mc- Donough, 52, died at the scene. McDonough's son, Coleman Mc- Donough Jr., also became a law enforce- ment officer in his home state, and in 2016 was named the superintendent of police in Alleghany County, the same district where his father was killed in the line of duty. "My father was a hero to me my whole life," Supt. McDonough said. "He died when I was young, only 10, but I do have many memories of the time we spent to- gether, playing baseball and doing other things. "He often served as the clubhouse se- curity guard at Forbes Field for Pittsburgh Pirates games. He got to know the club- house attendant really well, and he used to bring me a signed baseball home just about every week. "He got me several Roberto Clemente autographed balls, but to me they were just something to play with in the street. We wore those names off pretty quickly. "Probably the greatest day of his life was being there when Bill Mazeroski hit 'The Shot Heard Round The World' in game seven of the 1960 World Series." McDonough has a few pictures of his fa- ther as an athlete, a collection that includes a 1935 mugshot and an NC State freshman team picture. "We have some memories of those teams he played with," McDonough said. "I'm a big football fan, so I remember Gabriel when he was with the Philadelphia Eagles and Kramer when he was with Chicago. I know all about Philip Rivers and Russell Wilson, and the other quarterbacks from NC State in the NFL. "It's an honor to have my dad remem- bered as part of that group." I feel pretty sure those guys would say the same about NC State's first NFL quar- terback, who was more than just a passer and punter. He was a Pennsylvania hero. ■ ■ PACK PERSPECTIVE The Founding Member Of NC State's Pro Quarterback Club Tim Peeler is a regular contributor to The Wolfpacker and can be reached at The Wolfpacker is a publication of: Coman Publishing Company, Inc., P.O. Box 2331, Durham, N.C. 27702. Offices are located at 905 West Main St., Ste. 24F, Durham, N.C. 27701. (919) 688-0218. The Wolfpacker (ISSN 0273-8945) is published bimonthly. A subscription is $39.95 for six issues. For advertising or subscription information, call (800) 421-7751 or write The Wolfpacker. Postmaster: Send address changes to: The Wolfpacker, P.O. Box 2331, Durham, N.C. 27702. Periodical mail postage paid at Durham, N.C. 27702 and additional offices. First-class postage is $14 extra per year. E-mail: • Web site: Coleman "Coley" McDonough, who played on the Wolfpack's freshman team in 1935, was the first NC State alum to become a starting quarterback in the NFL. PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE MEDIA RELATIONS

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