Cotton Bowl

1956

 

Ole Miss 14

TCU 13

Ole Miss Fight Song

 

By Bill Rives

The Dallas Morning News

 

With less than five minutes to play, the Rebels of Mississippi completed a stunning, 14-13 upset of Texas Christian University which played without its ace quarterback, Chuck Curtis in the twentieth Cotton Bowl game Monday.

 

Ole Miss won the Dixie championship, in the battle pairing crown-holders of the Southwest and Southeastern Conferences, the hard way. It overcame a 13-point deficit which the Horned Frogs had nailed onto them in the game's early stages.

 

The climactic play of their second touchdown drive each of their scoring attacks covered 66 yards was a third-down run for 25 precious yards by Eagle Day, Mississippi's fabulous signal caller, who was elected the game's outstanding back.

 

That put the ball on the 5-yard line, and a speedy sophomore halfback who had gone into the contest only two plays before Billy Lott dashed around right end for the touchdown which tied the score at 13-13.

 

Then, another Mississippi star, Fullback Paige Cothren, kicked the winning extra point, his second of the day.

 

Four minutes and 22 seconds were left, TCU could go nowhere after the kickoff and a fourth-down pass with fifty-six seconds of the game remaining, were fruitless.

 

Day simply ran out the time with quarterback keepers, retreating to midfield on purpose in the last few seconds, so the clock would expire while there was no danger of losing the ball.

 

Curtis, TCU's All-Southwest Conference quarterback, was hurt and removed from the contest before it had seen a single scrimmage play.

He took the opening kickoff and returned it 14 yards, to his own 24-yard line. There, he was hit by a pair of Ole Miss players, fell away, and as he went to the ground, he was hit again.

 

Curtis suffered two fractured ribs on the right side and an injured right shoulder. He was carried to Baylor Hospital, but was able to return to the scene and watch the latter part of the game from the sidelines.

 

Without Curtis, TCU was like a rudderless ship. It floundered all afternoon, although All-American Jim Swink gave a sparkling performance. He scored two touchdowns, one on a brilliant 39-yard dash; gained 107 yards running and was strong defensively.

 

Curtis' place was taken by Dick Finney, who was such a stranger to the first team, it wouldn't have been surprising if there had been a general handshaking when he went in. Every down Finney had played this season had been with the Frogs' second-stringers.

 

Finney played well but it was obvious that TCU missed the masterly touch of Curtis. In particular, his passing threat eased Mississippi's defensive problem and the Rebels often bunched up in order to check Swink and the rest of the runners. Sometimes, they used an 8-man line.

Ole Miss players won both individual honors. Day gained 137 yards passing, completing 10 of 21, punted for a 42.7-yard average, and called a smart game in addition to producing the knockout punch with his fourth-period run. He made a net of only three yards running but was spilled several times on pass attempts, which marred his rushing statistics.

 

Swink ran next to Day in pressbox voting, with Cothren third.

 

The outstanding lineman was Guard Buddy Alliston, a 200-pound senior. TCU's Norman Hamilton, junior tackle, was second, and Ole Miss center Gene Dubuisson was third.

 

Swink's rushing figure of 107 yards, compiled on nineteen carries, was easily tops for the day. Cothren was next with 79. Swink also gained 55 yards on punt returns.

 

TCU scored the first touchdown with 56 seconds of the opening period left, at the end of a 72-yard drive. Swink made 31 of these yards. There were two big plays in the attack. Swink broke through left tackle and was nailed, finally, by the last man between him and the goal line Halfback Billy Kinard. The run was good for 21 yards and moved the ball well upfield on the third play of the assault.

 

The other prime play was a 34-yard run by the other halfback, Ray Taylor, from the Mississippi 35. He almost went all the way, slashing through the right side and speeding toward the coffin corner at his right. And in that corner, he was pinned and knocked down on the 1-yard line by Kinard and Day.

 

Two bucks at the concentrated Ole Miss line, by Finney and Taylor, produced nothing. So Finney turned over the job of scoring to Swink, who promptly slammed through left guard and crossed the goal line.

 

Fullback Harold Pollard kicked the point and it appeared TCU was on its way to certain victory.

 

That belief was heightened in the second period, when TCU scored again and took that long, 13-0 lead.

 

This time, they moved 74 yards, getting a break when an Ole Miss penalty on a punt play gave them a first down. They had gone from their own 26 to the 35 and Taylor executed a beautiful kick which sailed 61 yards and stopped dead on the Ole Miss four.

 

However, the Rebels were guilty of holding, and Taylor, one of the Frog captains, decided to take the penalty and keep the ball. It turned out to be a wise decision.

 

The Frogs took the ball again on the midfield line. Two plays later they had moved it to the enemy 39, with first down.

 

Here, Swink uncorked one of his typical, exciting runs. Finney faked to Fullback Vernon Hallbeck, who burrowed hard into the line, and then handed the ball to Swink, who got through the congestion at right tackle and headed downfield.

 

At the 15-yard line, he was met by Back Eddie Crawford, who got a good clutch on Swink's legs, wrapping both arms around the flying Frog. That is, he thought he had a good clutch on them. Swink pulled away from Crawford after dragging him a few feet.

 

There were two more Frog defenders, John Wallace Blalack and Billy Kinard, near the goal line. Hamilton and one of the Frog captains, End Bryan Engram, went after Blalack. Blalack managed to fend off Hamilton but Engram partially blocked the Rebel Back.

 

While this was going on, Swink veered to the left to bypass the traffic jam. He headed for Kinard but turned on the gas and headed farther left. When the run ended, Swink was in the end zone and the two Mississippi defenders were there with him, except that they weren't near enough to knock him off his feet.

 

Where the Frogs had gotten a fortunate break earlier, on that punt play, they now received one which went against them. Pollard kicked the extra point squarely between the uprights.

 

But TCU drew a penalty on the play and on the next effort, Pollard's kick went wide. The loss of that point was to prove disastrous, as it robbed the Frogs of a tie.

 

That break seemed to give the Rebels some inspiration, for they took the next kickoff and blitzed their way to a touchdown. Only four plays were required for them to move 66 yards. Two passes from Day to Kinard and Earl Blair, the other halfback, gained 42 yards.

 

With the ball on the TCU 24, Cothren sliced through the right side and almost got away, going for 21 yards before he was halted.

 

From the three, Cothren took the ball again and boomed through left tackle for the score. He then kicked the first of both extra points, and Ole Miss was back in the game, being only six points down, 13-7.

 

After a scoreless third period and with most of the final quarter gone, TCU's lead appeared safe, although the Frogs weren't playing in their usual form.

 

But Ole Miss mounted another 66-yard, paying attack. Day's passes, to Kinard and Cothren, did most of the damage as the Rebels surged to the Frog 32. There, a pass was incomplete. Then, Coach Johnny Vaught sent in two fast sophomores, Billy Lott and Leroy Reed.

 

Lott tried left guard but only got two yards.

 

Taking matters in his won hands, Day decided to run for it on what appeared to be a pass play. He went through the left side and pulled away from three men as he ran for 25 yards. Two of then, Hamilton and Guard Vernon Becker, later declared mournfully that they should have tackled him. He finally was pulled down by Finney, on the 5-yard line.

 

Lott then sped around right end for the touchdown and Cothren kicked the winning point, with four minutes, 22 seconds left.

 

Both teams missed opportunities. TCU got to the Ole Miss 24 twice, and the Rebels failed to score after getting to the Frog 26 and again, to the seven.

 

The clock ran out on Ole Miss at the end of the first half. A flood of passes by Day, whose ability to throw while on the run kept TCU defenders jittery all afternoon, pushed the ball to the seven.

 

Engram burst through to throw Day for a 7-yard loss, back to the fourteen. Day hit Cothren on the 8-yard line, putting the pressure back on.

But there were only eight seconds of the second period left, and they ticked off before he could get another play under way.

 

The game, played before 75,504 fans and in perfect weather, was rough at times. The victory was Old Miss' second in five bowl appearances. Each victory, incidentally, has been over TCU. In 1948, the Rebels beat the Frogs, 13-9, in the Delta Bowl in Memphis, Tenn.

 

Billy Kinard of Ole Miss is brought down by TCU's Bil Alexander.

 

Mississippi's Paige Cothran (40) protects Eagle Day (19) by blocking out TCU's O'Day Williams.

 

Eagle Day unleashes pass to Billy Kinard.

 

Cothren's PAT in the fourth was the difference.

 

Ole Miss linemen, Buddy Allison (mask), Gene Dubuisson celebrate with back Gayle Bowman.

 

Billy Kinard celebrates with his wife.

 

Attendance- 75,504

 

Scoring Summary

 

First Quarter

TCU- Swink 1 run (Pollard kick)

 

Second Quarter

TCU- Swink 39 run (kick missed)

OM- Cothren 3 run (Cothren kick)

 

Fourth Quarter

OM- Lott 5 run (Cothren kick)

 

Individual Statistics

 

Rushing

OM- Cothren 12-79

TCU- Swink 19-107, Taylor 10-76

 

Passing

OM- Day 10-21-137

TCU- Finney 1-3- 7,  Wineburg 1-1- 7

 

Receiving

OM- Kinard 6-83, Blair 7-28, Cothren 2-19, Bekes 1-7

TCU- Williams 1-13, Nickel 1-7

 

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