Today in Patriots History
Happy 67th birthday to Horace Ivory
Born August 8, 1954 in Fort Worth
Patriot RB/KR, 1977-1981; uniform #23
Pats 2nd round (44th overall) selection of the 1977 draft, from Oklahoma
Horace Ivory was part of one of the best draft classes in Patriot history. That '77 draft class included Raymond Clayborn, Stanley Morgan, Ivory and Don Hasselbeck. The draft pick used on Ivory was one of four acquired in the landmark trade with San Francisco for QB Jim Plunkett: Pete Brock, Tim Fox, Clayborn and Ivory.
Ivory was the 1B to Sam Cunningham's 1A on the 1978 Patriot team that set an NFL record that stood for more than forty years. That Pats team rushed for 3,165 yards; only two teams were within 500 yards of that mark. The Patriots also led the league with 30 rushing touchdowns (the rest of the league averaged 15.7), 180 rushing first downs (the next closest was 160) and 4.7 yards per carry (league average was 4.0).
Horace scored 11 touchdowns in that 1978 season, and 16 while with the Pats. Knee and hamstring injuries derailed what appeared to be a very promising football career though. With the arrival of Tony Collins in 1981, Ivory was deemed to be expendable and traded to Seattle. At the time Ivory ranked seventh in franchise history with 1,336 rushing yards (he ranks 25th now), and tied for fifth with Larry Garron with 14 rushing touchdowns (they now rank 18th) - despite more than 90% of his yardage coming in the two-year span of 1978-79.
In addition his 4.1 yards per carry ranks as twelfth best in club history among those with at least 300 rushes. During the 1978 season Horace Ivory set a single-season team record (later tied in 1995 by Curtis Martin) for consecutive games with two or more rushing touchdowns with three: two each in a week 8 33-24 win versus Miami; in a week 9 55-21 blowout over the Jets (on just seven carries); and in a 128 yard week 10 victory at Buffalo, accounting for both touchdowns in a 14-10 game. Ivory had one TD the following week and two more the week after in a 19-17 win over the Jets; that gave him a total of nine touchdowns over five games.
From page 37 of the 1981 Patriots Media Guide:
As the Patriots primary kickoff returner for the first time in his pro career, Horace was the NFL's top kickoff returner in 1980 . . . on his first kickoff return as a pro, he raced 46 yards against Seattle on 9-21 . . . on the day, he had five returns for 150 yards and maintained his league leadership for the balance of the year . . . his longest and most dramatic return came in the Patriots' come-from-behind win at Baltimore (10-19) . . . following a Baltimore score that put the Colts up 21-17, he took the ensuing kickoff and went 98 yards with the go ahead TD for the win . . . in only one season, he became the Patriots' eighth ranked kickoff returner and established a club record for career kickoff return average (27.6) . . . as a backup to Vagas Ferguson, he scored TDs against Seattle (9-21) and the NY Jets (11-2) and was the team's leading rusher with 111 yards . . . now ranks ninth on the club's all-time rushing list . . . missed the season opener vs. Cleveland (9-7) with a knee injury and the fifth game of the season (at NY Jets, 10-5) with a shoulder problem . . . the Patriots' second leading rusher in 1979 with 522 yards on 143 attempts, he missed five of the first six games with while nursing knee and ankle injuries while on injured reserve . . . during the 1979 season, he was the only Patriot to rush for over 100 yards in a game . . . he did so in rushing for 116 yards on 12 carries (9.7 avg.) vs. Baltimore (11-18-79) . . . Horace added 23 receptions for 216 yards to rank fifth in receiving on the Patriots' during '79 . . . he hauled in six passes for 57 yards vs. Miami (11-29-79) for the best day of his career in the receiving dept. . . . following a disappointing rookie year that saw a thigh injury limit him to spot duty in just five games, he rebounded for a sensational sophomore year . . . he was the club scoring leader with 66 points and his 11 rushing TDs fell just one shy of Steve Grogan's club record 12 set in 1976 . . . he also finished in the NFL TD race of '78 . . . his last minute heroics, including the game winning TD run (23 yards with 3:10 remaining) earned him CBS Star of the Week Honors in the Patriots' 33-24 win over Miami (10-28-78) . . . an elusive runner who has an uncanny ability to change speed, he was the 44th player selected in the 1977 NFL draft . . . Horace was chosen with a second round pick acquired from San Francisco in the Jim Plunkett trade . . . College: One of the best backs in OU history, Horace scored 16 TDs and rushed for 1,396 yards as a Sooner . . . he prepped for two years at Navarro (TX) J.C.
December 30, 2019:
On Sunday, December 29, 2019, the Baltimore Ravens broke the NFL’s single season rushing record previously held by the 1978 New England Patriots.
Week 15 - 1978
Pats kicker David Posey missed a 42-yard, game-tying attempt early in the fourth quarter, but three plays later Tony McGee sacked Bills quarterback Joe Ferguson, forcing a fumble, which Ray Hamilton recovered at the Bills 20-yard line. The Patriots needed only one play to take the lead and did so when Horace Ivory scampered 20 yards for a touchdown and a 21-17 advantage.
April 10, 2020:
In April of 1976, the Patriots traded franchise quarterback Jim Plunkett. Where does that rank among great deals by a Boston team?
Nov 6, 2020:
Lost amid decades of bannerless football, in the 1970s the Patriots fielded two tremendous squads — before it all fell apart.