The 1963 College All-Star Game


On August 2, 1963, the College All-Stars met the champions of the National Football League for the thirtieth consecutive time at Chicago’s Soldier Field. The record between the two stood at 19-8-2. Nineteen wins for the professionals, eight for the All-Stars and two ties marked the previous 29 years of competition. The Green Bay Packers were back as champions and, despite the loss of Paul Hornung due to suspension, were expected to have no difficulty with this year’s opponents. But, a vintage crop of graduates refused to be awed by the Packers and an upset of tremendous proportions occurred that evening before a crowd of 65,000. Remarkably accomplished and inspired, this band of College All-Stars almost brutally defeated the great Packer machine and ran the ball on 35 ground plays to Green Bay’s 25, a telling statistic. All-Star coach for the sixth year in a row was Otto Graham. His team was so deep he couldn’t even get 1962 Heisman Trophy winner Terry Baker from Oregon State into the game. Joining Baker on the team were Ron Vanderkelen (MVP) of Wisconsin, Ed Budde of Michigan State, Bobby Bell of Minnesota, Junious Buchanan of Grambling, Bob Vogel of Ohio State, Bill (Thunder) Thornton of Nebraska and Charlie Mitchell of Washington.

After an All-Star fumble in the first quarter, Packer fullback Jim Taylor was able to score from the 2-yard line making Green Bay’s job look easy in the beginning. Jerry Kramer kicked the extra point. The All-Stars came back with a field goal by Bob Jencks of Miami, Ohio when still in the first quarter. Tommy Janik of Texas A&I then intercepted the ball at the Packer 28-yard line and, on the first play of the second period, Larry Ferguson plunged into the end zone from 6 yards out. With Jencks’ extra point, the score was 10-7 in favor of the All-Stars. The Packers’ Jerry Kramer ended the scoring for the first half with 21-yard field goal to tie the game at 10-10.

Late in the third period Green Bay fumbled and the Stars recovered on the All-Star 12-yard line. Glyn Griffing of Mississippi began a long, relentless drive of 62 yards down field. Mitchell, Thornton and Ben Wilson of UCLA were responsible for the ground attack. At the opening of the fourth quarter, Jencks kicked a 33-yard field goal and the All-Stars had a three-point lead (which would prove to be the margin of victory). In the waning minutes of the fourth period, on third down from their own 20-yard line, Vanderkelen hit Wisconsin teammate Pat Richter who streaked 74 yards for the most exciting touchdown of the game. Jencks converted, upping the score 20-10. In desperation, the Packers and Bart Starr flooded the skies with passes and finally Taylor plunged over from the 1-yard line with only six seconds remaining in the game. Jerry Kramer kicked the extra point to give Green Bay 17 points, 3 points shy of the All-Stars.

For the first time in five years the professionals had been defeated. This class of graduates gained 323 total yards to Green Bays’ 308 yards matching a feat accomplished by the collegians only five times previously in the game’s 30 year history. Despite its being “a night littered with horrors” for Green Bay, it was a sweet victory for the college players and one that would have to endure. It would have to endure because the 1963 game was the last victory the All-Stars would have.


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