East 20

West 9

 

January 17, 1954

 

Dave Lewis

Long Beach Independent

 

Los Angeles Coliseum- Taking advantage of two fumbles and an interception to run up an insurmountable lead, the Eastern All-Stars ground out a 20-9 victory over the Western All-Stars here Sunday in the fourth annual Pro Bowl classic before 44,214 fans.

 

It was a bitterly played defensive duel all the way with the three breaks deciding the issue. The East triumph squares the series at two games apiece.

 

In directing the East to victory, Paul Brown finally broke a jinx that has been dogging him ever since he ran across a character by the name of Buddy Parker.

 

Parker-coached teams had beaten him seven straight times until the Cleveland headman finally gained his first win over the mentor of the NFL champion Detroit Lions in the all-star professional game.

 

In grinding out the win, the East turned two West fumbles into field goals for the first six points and converted the interception into seven more points when Chuck Bednarik picked off Bobby Layne's pass in the third quarter and romped 24 yards to a touchdown, after which Doak Walker booted the extra point.

 

The interception clinched the game's "most valuable player" for the 230-pound Bednarik, former University of Pennsylvania star now with the Philadelphia Eagles.

 

He also recovered the fumble which led to the East’s second field goal, called defensive signals, handled the punting chores, knocked down one pass, figured in three tackles and was the "take-charge guy" for the winners.

 

It wasn't until the final eight minutes of play that the teams were able to march for touchdowns….the West exploding on a 63 yard drive, midway in the fourth period and the East retaliating with a 40-yard scoring advance with only a minute and 22 seconds remaining.

 

The first 30 minutes of action produced a weird 3-2 halftime score.

 

The East moved into a 3-0 lead it never relinquished after 5:49 on Lou (The Toe) Groza’s 11-yard field goal following Joe Perry's costly fumble on the West's second scrimmage play of the game, which Emlen Tunnell recovered on the 22-yard line.

 

It was strictly a "Cleveland" score, what with three members of the Browns- Otto Graham, Harry Jagade and Groza- combining to produce the three points.

 

Graham took the ball to the nine on a 13-yard sweep to his left and Jagade hammered his way to the three in three stabs at the middle to set the stage for Groza's fourth down kick.

 

Moments later, Groza attempted another field goal from the West 34, but this one was wide.

 

The West, with Norm Van Brocklin at quarterback, finally mounted a drive early in the second quarter that rolled 50 yards to the one-yard line before the East stopped Deacon Dan Towler for no gain on fourth down to take possession of the ball just 36 inches from the goal line.

 

However, the West broke into the scoring column seconds later when Graham was nailed in the end zone by Don Kindt of the Chicago Bears for a safety which made the score 3-2.

 

On the first play following the ensuing kickoff, Tunnell intercepted Van Brocklin's pass on the West 48 and the East was on the move again.

 

Graham passed nine yards to Pete Pihos, then fired a strike to Pittsburgh's Elbie Nickel on the 15. Long Beach's Johnny Olszewski of the Chicago Cardinals carried to within a foot of a first down in three cracks at the line and Graham then tried to "sneak" it to a first down, but was stopped cold as the West took over on the five-yard line.

 

Tight defensive play marked the first part of the third period until Tunnell busted things open with a 31-yard punt return, second longest gain of the day. Tunnell, who finally was hauled down on the West 34 yard line, set the stage for Groza’s third field goal attempt of the day. However, The Toe’s boot from the 39 at 10:50 of the quarter was wide.

 

The action was stepped up at that point and finally reached its most furious pitch in the closing minutes of the fourth period. Shortly after his unsuccessful attempt, Groza made good on another.

 

Perry again fumbled when hit by Ernie Stautner and Bednarik recovered on the 23-yard line. Four plays later Groza split the uprights from the 25 to give the East a 6-2 lead with only a minute and 36 seconds left to play in the third period.

 

Fifty-four seconds later the East had a touchdown and a 13-2 advantage.

 

The West put the ball in play on its 20 following the kickoff. Bobby Layne was smeared for a six-yard loss attempting to pass on the first play, then was spilled for a four-yard loss on the 10 on second down. His third-down pass out to the right was grabbed by Bednarik on the 24 and he had clear sailing to the goal line down the south sidelines. Groza added the extra point.

 

After Layne and Van Brocklin failed to produce scores, fans began yelling for San Francsico’s Y.A. Tittle and Parker responded by sending the 49er quarterback into action as the fourth period opened. Tittle promptly inspired a 62 yard advance that carried to the East 18-yard line before being snuffed out.

 

Moments later, the 49er contingent exploded to give the West its lone touchdown.

 

Hustlin' Hugh McElhenny touched off the advance with a spectacular 36-yard sweep around the left end to the East 27 on a “Statue of Liberty”. Tittle passed 11 yards to San Francisco’s Gordon Soltau on the 16 and Perry, whose fumbles earlier led to the East’s two field goals, then hurtled the remaining 16 yards on a vicious swipe around right end.

 

Doak Walker booted the extra point to slash the East lead to 13-9 at 6:56 and put the West with striking distance of a victory.

 

With the crowd chanting for a touchdown, the West had one more opportunity to mount a drive in the closing minutes, but the East defense refused to yield.

 

With five minutes to go, Bednarik punted to the West 10-yard line, but this time Ttttle couldn’t get his club in high gear.

 

He was nailed for a four-yard loss on the first play. McElhenny got three of those yards back on a pitchout, but a third down pass to Soltau fell incomplete.

 

Van Brocklin then punted to the West 40 and the East promptly struck for its final touchdown which came with only a minute and 22 seconds left to go.

 

Graham passed 15 yards to his Cleveland teammate, Ray Renfro, on the 25 and Renfro then swept around right end and weaved through a broken field for the TD. Groza again kicked the conversion.

 

East qurterback Otto Graham is tackled from behind for a safety by Chicago's Don Kindt .

 

Emlen Tunnell returns punt for East.

 

1953 1955

 

RETURN