Cotton Bowl

1954

 

Rice 28

Alabama 6

Rice Fight Song

 

 

By Bill Rives

The Dallas Morning News

 

Editor's note: Dicky Maegle's name was spelled Moegle as a running back at Rice, but he later changed it because it was mispronounced so often.

 

Rice' Dicky Moegle, a pink-cheeked teen-ager equipped with jet propulsion and a one-track mind, rolled back the Crimson Tide Friday with one of the greatest exhibitions of football history.

 

He scored three touchdowns, on runs of 79, 95 and 34 yards, and gained a total of 265 yards as the Owls swamped Alabama, 28 to 6, in the Cotton Bowl (video).

 

The 19-year-old stop-twist-and-go artist, who made his first letter this season and who was left off the All-Southwest Conference team, had more to contend with than eleven opponents. On his second touchdown run, one of the weirdest events in Bowl history occurred when Alabama's "twelfth man," Fullback Tommy Lewis, leaped off the bench as Moegle was roaring past it, along the 45-yard line, and downed him with a fierce block. At the time, Moegle was steaming along with only one man having a chance and that a doubtful one of stopping him.

 

Lewis, under a sudden compulsion which he could not deny, came off the bench like a rocket and cut down Moegle with a perfect block. Then the Alabaman, who is alternate captain of the Tide, retreated quickly to the spot he had vacated and sat there with his head down in acute embarrassment as Coach Red Drew stood before him and looked at the crushed youngster in disbelief at what he had seen. Referee Cliff Shaw ruled that Moegle should be credited with a touchdown. The play had started on the Owl 5-yard-line and thus was good for 95 yards (video).

 

Moegle, who is a junior and who certainly must have established himself as a unanimous preseason All-American in 1954, delighted a jammed bowl of 75,504 fans as he produced his record-wrecking bowl performance.

 

Statistics of individual Cotton Bowl stars have not been compiled but it makes no difference. No back ever achieved more in the bowl's history and, probably, no back ever will.

 

There simply was no stopping Moegle, who broke the game wide open after Alabama had taken a 6-to-0 lead in the first period on a lightning-like, 49-yard drive which brought in only six plays and one penalty.

 

On the first play of the second period, Moegle broke over right guard for 79 yards and a touchdown. Six minutes later, he made the 95-yard dash which was halted halfway by Lewis' illegal block, the oddest play in a bowl game since Roy Riegels of California made his memorable wrong-way run in the 1929 Rose Bowl game.

 

In the third quarter, Moegle sizzled right through right tackle and went 34 yards to score.

 

In the final period, he almost did it again as he raced 20 yards down the right side line. Center Ralph Carrigan caught the Flying Kid from Taylor by a heel to prevent him scoring again.

 

Substitute Quarterback Buddy Grantham put the frosting on the cake Moegle had baked by scoring the final Rice touchdown in the fourth quarter when he bolted through a big hole at right tackle for 7 yards.

 

Moegle, who still found time during his whirlwind afternoon to sit on the bench for about eighteen minutes, compiled a fantastic average of 21.4 yards on his eleven carries.

 

Naturally he was voted the outstanding back of the game: in fact, he was the only nominee. End Dan Hart was the outstanding lineman, winning by the slim margin of three votes over his Rice teammate, Tackle Dick Chapman.

 

Once Moegle revived up his motor and made up his mind to tour the other end of the field, the contest became one sided. The Owls gained a total of 448 yards to Alabama's 225.

 

Moegle was the difference in the game. Except for his unbridled running, the affair might have been close. Rice was hampered by the early loss of its All-American fullback Kosse Johnson, who went out in the first period when his ailing ankle was sprained again.

 

The Owls preserved their perfect bowl record. This was their fourth straight victory. No other major college now has such a bowl history. For proud 'Bama, bowlingest team in the nation, it was their worst defeat in twelve postseason contests.

 

The game, played in near-perfect weather, began mildly enough, with the teams exchanging punts.

 

The scoring action began when Quarterback Bart Starr, a great defensive player as well as a shrewd offensive performer, stole a Rice pass to put the ball in Alabama's possession on the Owl 49.

 

Lewis, later to become the central figure in the weird block on Moegle, surged through the middle of the Rice line for 15 yards. On a keeper play, Starr got 12 through left tackle. Lewis got 13 more in two tries to put the ball on the 5. Rice was offside on the next play, the one in which Johnson was hurt and removed from the game.

 

With the ball on the 1, Lewis managed to get the ball to within inches of the goal line and then leaped high for the touchdown. The Rice line rolled him back but he had crossed the line with his forward motion. The extra point try of Halfback Bobby Luna was blocked and Alabama led 6 to 0.

The crowd was stunned by this sudden explosion, but Moegle remedied the situation for the partisan fans.

 

Just before the second period started, Starr kicked to the Owls on their 18 and Fullback Gordon Kellogg pushed the ball to the 21.

 

The teams traded territory for the second period and on the opening play, Moegle hit right guard. Just past the line of scrimmage, he cut to his right, faked a tackler silly, did the same thing again on a brief swerve to his left and then cut back into the clear, racing down the right sideline as Halfback Bill Oliver made a futile chase.

 

Quarterback Leroy Fenstemaker kicked the first of three successful extra-point tries. Sammy Burk, halfback, kicked the last one.

Midway through the period, Moegle cranked up his machine again. Alabama: principally on the strenght of a 54-yard run by Oliver, was threatening seriously Oliver's shot through left guard put the ball on the 22 and two plays later, from the 20, Starr started to pass, changed his mind, ran to his right and got to the 10 before he fumbled. Mac Taylor, Rice halfback, recovered the ball.

 

The Owls drew a penalty, back to their 5, for illegal motion. Behind great blocking, Moegle bulleted around right end and aimed for the goal line. As he swept by the 'Bama bench, out of nowhere came the Tide's twelfth man, Lewis, to throw that from-the-bench block (video).

 

Moegle was cut down and shaken. Lewis was permitted to stay in the game such a violation of the playing rules has no automatic disqualification penalty and some of the crowd booed.

 

In the third period, Moegle capped a 67-yard assault by breaking through right tackle, faking three tackles out of position, and going 34 yards without being slowed up until he was a step from the goal line. There, he managed to fall across for his third and last touchdown.

 

Substitutes made the final Rice score, which came on a 75-yard drive. Three passes from Grantham to a junior end, Lamoine Holland, did most of the damage. Grantham scored on a 7-yard keeper play through right tackle.

 

In the second period, Rice moved to the Alabama 18 but had a pass intercepted, and to the 21, where the Tide held for downs. Alabama's only serious threat aside from the touchdown was stymied when Starr fumbled on the ten.

 

Meagle carried for 265 yards. That's Bart Starr (#10) making the stop for Alabama.

 

The famous bench tackle.

 

Attendance - 75,000

Scoring Summary

First Quarter:
Ala- Lewis 1 run (Luna kick blocked)

Second Quarter:
Rice- Maegle 79 run (Fenstemaker kick)
Rice- Maegle awarded 95 run after bench tackle by Lewis (Fenstemaker kick)

Third Quarter:
Rice- Maegle 34 run (Fenstemaker kick)

Fourth Quarter:
Rice- Grantham 7 run (Burk kick)

Individual Statistics

Rushing
Ala- Oliver 2-56, Starr 11-54, Lewis 9-44
Rice- Maegle 11-265, Kellogg 14-32, Taylor 9-20

Passing
Ala- Starr 7-16-67
Rice- Grantham 3-5-43, Fenstemaker 1-4-16

Receiving
Ala- Cummings 2-37, Stone 2-20, Oliver 1-15
Rice- Holland 2-28, Bridges 1-16, Garbrecht 1-15
 

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