January 16, 1955
By DAVE LEWIS
Long Beach (CA) Independent
Los Angeles Coliseum- After almost giving the Eastern All-Stars the game on a silver platter in the first half through fumbles and interceptions, the Western All-Stars of the NFL came surging back in the second half to grind out n 26-10 victory in the fifth annual Pro Bowl classic here Sunday before 43,972 who alternately sat in sunlight and rain to view the professional football spectacle.
The game was played on a “fast field” which had been protected from earlier rains by a tarpaulin and the showers that fell throughout the second quarter and the early moments of the third failed to slow down the footing to any great extent.
The victory was the tiebreaker in the series and gives the West 3-2 edge.
It would have been a "downhill route" for the Westerners but for their near-disastrous handling of the ball in the opening minutes of play.
Three fumbles- caused mainly by the unfamiliarity of the snap from center Leon McLaughlin of the Los Angeles Rams to quarterback Y. A. Tittle of the San Francisco 49ers- followed by two interceptions of Norm Van Brocklin passes by Dick (Night Train) Lane enabled the East to climb into a 19-3 lead early in the second quarter and also prevented the West from launching a comeback until the closing minutes of the half.
But once the West got rolling it was just a question of time before the All-Stars from the "strongest half of the league" gained the whip hand.
There were many outstanding individual performers, but sports writers finally chose end Billy Wilson of the 49ers as the game’s outstanding player.
Wilson, 27-year-old Negro star from San Jose State College, snared 11 passes for a total of 157 yards and one touchdown for the West cause.
The alert play of the East defensive unit kept the Western All-Stars backed up against their own goal line for the greater part of the first half as the Easterners drove to a 19-9 lead at the intermission.
It wasn't until the final 36 seconds of the half that the West was able to get back into contention as Tittle finally passed them 87 yards in 11 plays to a touchdown which came on a 14-yard pitch to Wilson. A bad pass from center fouled up the conversion attempt, however, leaving the score at 19-9.
It wasn't the only conversion missed, though. Lou (The Toe) Groza, the Cleveland Browns' great kicking ace, probably had the worst day of his career despite scoring four points on a field goal and a conversion. However, he missed two field goals from 35 and 50 yards out, but more important, he failed to make two conversions the first time in his pro career he ever has missed more than one in a single game.
The East took advantage of the West's three fumbles in the first seven minutes of play to slam over two touchdowns and almost score again on Groza's field goal attempt from the 35.
All this took place within a period of three minutes.
These "black three minutes" for the West began when Tittle's pitchout near midfield was picked out of the air by Ray Krouse, 250-pound tackle from the New York Giants. Krouse rambled 43 yards to the West nine-yard line before being run down.
Three plays later, Otto Graham passed six yards to Ollie Matson for the first touchdown at 6:04. Groza's placement was good.
On the first play following the kickoff, Tittle fumbled again and Krouse was right there to recover his second bobble of the afternoon for the East on the 16-yard line.
Graham's first and second down aerials were smeared and, on third down, he was spilled for a 12-yard loss, thus forcing Groza clear back to the 35 for his field goal attempt which was slightly wide to the left.
The West put the ball in play on the 20, but promptly fumbled again. This time it was Joe Perry of the 49ors who dropped the ball . . . and end Norm Willey of the Philadelphia Eagles rushed in to pick up the bill on the five and run it over for the TD.
Groza's conversion attempt was wide, leaving the score 13-0.
Moments later Groza attempted a field goal from the 50. But, it fell a couple of yards short of the goal posts.
Van Brocklin then took command of the Western squad for the first time and quickly on 16 and 17-yard passes to Wilson. Although the drive stalled at that point, Doak Walker came through with a 35 yard field goal to cut the t advantage to 13-3 after 12:38 of the Initial period.
The East, however, came right back with an 80-yard advance for its third touchdown which was culminated after 2:07 of the second quarter by Adrian Burk's 33-yard aerial to Bones Taylor of the Washington Redskins.
Again Groza's placement was no good, the ball hitting the goal posts and bouncing back.
The East muffed two more opportunities to wrap up the game in the next few minutes when Lane intercepted two of Van Brocklin's passes.
The first interception gave the East the ball on the West 26, but Johnny Lattner fumbled the ball away on the 12. The second gave the East the hall on the 21. . . but this time the West held for downs on the 13 when the East faked n field goal attempt by Groza and Burk attempted to pass for a first down, but it fell incomplete.
That was "the end" for the East. The West took the ball on the 13 and promptly drove to the touchdown that cut the East lead to 19-9 at half time and set up the winning rally in the second half.
The East was completely throttled in the final half and the Westerners began rolling with real authority.
It took the West 13:34 of the third period to finally break through for touchdown . . .Tittle capping on 80-yard advance with a spectacular 42-yard aerial strike to Harlon Hill of the Chicago Bears. Walker's conversion was good . . . making it 19-16.
The Westerners tied it up after 3:29 of the final stanza when Walker booted his second field goal of the game from the 30-yard line.
It took only a little over two minutes for the West to wrap up the game with the tie-breaking touchdown.
Lavern Torgeson, burly linebacker from the Detroit Lions, intercepted Burk's pass on the East 41 and galloped 37 yards to the four from where Perry carried it over on two drives through guard. Walker's conversion was good.
The West moved into position for Walker to try another field goal from the 38 in the closing minutes of play . . . but this one was wide.
1955 newspaper cartoon