Behind by a single point as the final quarter started to unravel, the ruthlessly-efficient Texas Aggies threw a 63-yard wet blanket over Baylor's homecoming festivities Saturday night and the comeback paid off in a 19-13 victory gained before a record-breaking crowd of 50,000.
Big Jim Crow, the toughest runner of the night, bolted the final two yards to put the Aggies ahead and sent them spinning homeward with visions of Cotton Bowl dancing in their heads.
They didn't get away without a fight. The Bears fought them hammer and tongs, extracting an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Six personal fouls were called during the savage showdown, each side drawing three. Two of the Bruins—Charley Dupre and Dugan Pearce—were banished from the blood-letting but all the Aggies were permitted to stay for the finish.
Paul Bryant's sizzling sharp-shooters, as fiery as ever, scored first in this donnybrook, blasting 21 yards in six plays after grabbing off a Baylor pass. Crow pitched a five-yard pass to end John Tracey for the six-pointer with 9:24 left in the second quarter.
Bears Tie It Up
Baylor came back to tie the score shortly before the intermission, driving 67 yards in 11 plays. Larry Hickman, the star of the drive, carried the final two.
With 4:56 remaining in the third period the Aggies crunched ahead, completing a 95-yard thrust composed of 12 plays. Jack Pardee, again a mighty man, surged the final four after Roddy Osborne had set up the score with a 32-yard pass to "clutch artist" Don Watson.
That left the score reading 12-6, as Loyd Taylor and Junior Beall had trouble finding the extra point range, and set the stage for a rollicking Baylor comeback which hit a happy climax when Bobby Peters jackknifed across from three yards out. That scoring march went 36 yards in five plays, and when Beall kicked goal this time, moving the Bruins into a 13-12 advantage, the overflow crowd of Baylor partisans went wild.
That was when Crow, flying straight as his name-sake, took a personal hand in proceedings and plunged a knife into the Baylor hopes with the 63-yard payoff march. Taylor kicked goal this time with 9:20 left to play.
Mixed in with all that scoring was a record of muffed opportunities and bitterly-waged combat on both sides.
The Aggies, using that crisp, aggressive defense which can do little wrong, dominated most of the first half play. They had possession on the Baylor 25, on the 15, and on the 21 before cracking the scoring ice. They just had two big chances in the second half and made them both pay off.
Baylor, spurning the aerial route most of the way, made good on its lone first half threat but failed on a beauty early in the third period. That one was set up when center Lloyd Hale, on a fourth down punt situation, snapped the ball over Osborne's head, giving Baylor possession on the Aggie 22. The Bruins worked the ball down to the Cadet five before bowing to that inspired defense.
Then, with the scoreboard spelling out Baylor defeat, the Bruins stoked up a final drive which produced two first downs and almost a third. That march flickered and fumbled and the Aggies took over on their own 33.
Heroes Were Thick
Heroes were thick on both sides in this duel to the finish, but first and foremost was that man named Crow. He scored one touchdown, passed for another, intercepted a Baylor pass and led all the ball carriers for the night with 76 yards in 14 cracks.
In that final Aggie drive, the one where they had to produce or become just another ball club, Crow launched the effort with a 23-yard burst and finished it with a two-yarder.
Don Watson, who beat TCU a week ago, had another heroic night for Bryant. He set up the second Aggie touchdown and grabbed off the fumble which planted the final spike in Baylor's hopes.
Jack Pardee, "too injured to play," played just as everyone figured he would, and played superbly. He got 59 yards on 10 carries. Charley Krueger was the mainstay of the Aggie line which gave up 169 yards to the Bears but very little when the chips were blue.
Bill Glass, moved to left guard and linebacker for this most significant of all Baylor 1956 assignments, again was a mighty warrior, as were Jerry Marcontell, Clyde Letbetter, Dave Lunceford and Bobby Oliver. On offense, Del Shofner carved out 51 yards to set the pace while Bobby Peters had 47. The most thunderous Baylor runner of the night, however, was soph fullback Larry Hickman. Larry got 23 yards on just five jolts, and that first touchdown was almost a personal triumph for him.
Even in First Down
The Bears matched the Aggies in first downs, 15 apiece, but bowed in total yardage, 195 to 302. For the most part the Baylor offense again was disappointing.
Shofner did some brilliant punting in the first half in helping the Bears escape from several Aggie traps. From deep in his own territory he kicked 61 yards and then, while in his end zone, placed a beauty out of bounds on the Aggie 37.
But in the final analysis, the Aggies had too many guns, too much defense, too much organization, and as much desire as the fired-up Bruins. It was the season's best rock-'em, sock-'em display, however, with a full quota of knock-'em-down football from start to finish.
The defeat, first suffered by the Bears under Sam Boyd, evened their conference record at 1-1 and left them on the verge of elimination and facing potent TCU next week. For the Aggies, improving Arkansas is next on the firing line. Right now, that appears to be the last possible stumbling block between the Aggies and a post-season date, provided the NCAA flashes a green light.
With the stadium full and the crowd overflowing onto the grass around the playing field, the Bruins put the ball in play at the north end by returning the kickoff to the 18. Shofner took two jabs at the Aggie line and gained seven and Jones, on a keeper at right end, barely nudged for a first down. Bobby elected to try a passing flurry next, however, and the strategy failed, so Shofner boomed a 61-yard beauty to the Aggie 17. Crow returned to the 22.
The fiercely-resisting Bruins stopped the first Aggie thrust cold, giving up four yards in three downs, and Osborne punted 48 yards to the Baylor 26. At that point, on first down, disaster struck the Bruins. Bob Jones fumbled the snap and Ken Hall grabbed the ball for Bryant's crew on the Baylor 25. Just as quickly, however, he fumbled it back to Shofner, after bolting up the middle for 12 yards, so Baylor went back to work on the offense, this time from the 13.
The Bears continued to stay just one step ahead of disaster. On third down Krueger smashed Jones hard on a pitch-out, the ball bounced back toward the Bruin goal, and only some fast footwork by Shofner saved the day on the Baylor 7. From that point, nerveless Del booted another beauty, this one sailing 58 yards out of bounds to the Aggie 37.
Now Jimmy Wright went in to direct the invaders and immediately turned to the air lanes. One pass carried to Don Smith to the Baylor 44 and another was right on the money to Gene Stallings at the Baylor 15. Stallings almost got away. However, the Bruins dug in, rushed Wright hard on his next toss, and Larry Cowart raced under a misdirected pass and gave the ball to the Baylor on the 13.
Still, it was no go on the attack for Sam Boyd's men, as the Aggies continued to fire through and upset the Bruin signal-callers. Ken Helms was directing at this point, and when three plays had gained only seven yards Shofner went back to punt gain. The snap was high this time but he managed to get his kick away and it sailed 40 yards to Don Watson. He returned to the Aggie 49. A personal foul on the play moved the Aggies on down to the Baylor 36.
Big Jack Pardee now went into the game and rocked and rolled out a first down to the Baylor 24. John Crow messed up the thrust, however, fumbling to Tony DeGrazier on the Baylor 21.
Now the Bears, with Saage and Peters running hard, worked out a first down to the 32 but three plays later the Aggies were in control to stay. Jones tried a pass to midfield, Osborne picked it off and returned to the Baylor 21. Bobby Oliver kept him from going all the way.
The Aggies scored in six plays. Crow and Osborne jolted for a first down to the 10. Taylor ran wide to the eight, Pardee straight ahead to the five, and then Crow, running wide, tossed a pass into the end zone to the uncovered John Tracey and the Farmers were ahead. Taylor's kick was blocked, leaving the Aggies with a 6-0 margin.
Now the teams exchanged punts before Baylor got possession on its own 33 and started rolling for the tying score. Shofner started things by bolting around right end for 22 yards to the Aggie 45. Jones fired a strike to elusive Del on the Aggie 31 for Baylor's first completion. Peters gouged to the 30 and an entirely new Baylor backfield went in, with Ken Helms at the controls.
Helms ran up the middle to the 26, then turned over the offense to thunderous Larry Hickman. Larry proved fully up to the job. One blast gained nine, another five, and another six. That put the ball on the Aggie six, and set up a first down.
Again Helms called on Hickman but the massed Aggies stopped him at the five. Helms went back to pass and ran instead to the two. Then Hickman jammed into the middle, found no hole at all, so spun away to the left and went over standing up. Watson deflected Beall's kick and the score was tied, 6-6, as the clock unwound for the first half.
The tempo increased as the second half got away and right away the Bruins muffed a wonderful opportunity. Pardee started things by jolting for 16 yards to the Aggie 29. Crow ran wide and added another 11. Then the Bruins braced, held them, and Osborne went back to kick. Lloyd Hale's snap sailed over his head and he had to race back to get it. He couldn't get his kick away and the Bears took over on the Aggie 22.
Saage quickly jolted to the 17 and Bobby Peters, running wide to the left, ran to the 10 for a first down. Now the Aggies stopped them. Saage was pulled down at the eight. Shofner drove to the five.
Shofner tried to go wide and was stopped by Marks for no gain. So facing fourth down and still five long yards to go, the Bears tried a fooler. Helms and Beall went in, apparently for a field goal try. The snap came to Kenny, he stood up and retreated to pass. As the Aggies rushed in he shot a bullet into the end zone which Shofner reached for but couldn't get and the ball went over.
From that point, the Aggies marched 95 yards, through some terrifically heavy traffic, for a go-ahead touchdown. Osborne started them off with a 17-yard scamper on a keeper play and the Maroon swung into high gear. There was no stopping them. Pardee racked up one first down at the 33 and then Osborne, on a keeper, made another at the 49.
Now Crow ran hard on a cross to the Baylor 46 and there he ran into Dugan Pearce. There was some dirty work at the crossroads, Crow wound up with a bloody mouth, Baylor picked up a 15-yard penalty and Pearce was ousted from the game.
That put the ball on the 31. Pardee gouged out a first down, but on the play the Farmers added some unnecessary rough stuff so the ball went back to the Baylor 37. That penalty was just a challenge and Osborne accepted it without a word. Taking the snap, he faked a handoff and then retreated. Don Watson was speeding down the east sideline, behind the defender. Osborne threw and the ball sailed true. Watson tucked it away and made it to the Baylor four before being knocked out of bounds.
Pardee blasted across in one play. Taylor's kick was deflected by Marcontell, leaving the Cadets ahead, 12-6.
The Bruins came stomping back, still full of fight. Starting from their own 20, they bulled ahead magnificently until a 15-yard personal foul penalty stopped them. The big gain was turned in by Peters, who took an option pass and ran 18 yards. With the ball on the Aggie 48, Jones tried a long pass and that is suicide against the Aggies. Crow picked it off and was downed on the Cadet 12.
Two plays gained six yards for the Bryant men so Osborne decided to punt. His punt fizzled, going just 18 yards, and the Bears set up shop with renewed life on the Aggie 36.
From that point Jones directed the Bears into the lead, with the Aggies lending a mighty hand by contributing 15 yards on another foul. Obviously, the going in the trenches was getting dark and dirty.
The penalty play started with Jones going back to pass and then electing to run. He made it from the 37 to the 30, and the penalty gave the Bears a first down on the nine. In three plays, with Saage and Peters carrying, the Bears worked out the touchdown. Peters carried the final four yards, jackknifing across in the arms of Pardee. Beall's kick was true and Baylor was ahead for the first time of the night, 13-12.
Baylor's massed thousands were in an uproar.
The Aggies applied a damper in short order. Taking the kickoff on the 37, they marched right down the field, gouging out huge chunks of territory behind the brutal slants of Crow, Pardee and Osborne. Several times the Bears had them but couldn't cinch the tackle. Crow started them with a brutal burst to the Baylor 40 and three downs later Pardee made it a first at the 26.
Pardee's ramble was the key play. As he was hit he fumbled and the Bears recovered but the officials ruled the play had been stopped before the bobble. It was a questionable decision. Osborne on the next play ran through half the Baylor team to the four, and in two tries Crow carried it over. Taylor's kick this time was good.
Now, with 9:20 left, the Bruins made their swan song. They rolled to a pair of first downs, getting to the Aggie 44. Then three more tries surged to the 35. On the big fourth down effort, Jones tried a handoff, fumbled and the ever-present Watson recovered.
The Bruins did not get possession again.
This story has been lightly edited from its original version.
Baylor's top-10 matchups
10/11/2014 — (#5) Baylor 61, (#9) TCU 58 — McLane Stadium, Waco
11/9/1985 — (#10) Arkansas 20, (#8) Baylor 14 — War Memorial Stadium, Little Rock
1/1/1981 — (#9) Alabama 30, (#6) Baylor 2 — Cotton Bowl, Dallas
10/27/1956 — (#7) Texas A&M 19, (#8) Baylor 13 — Baylor Stadium, Waco
1/1/1952 — (#5) Georgia Tech 17, (#9) Baylor 14 — Orange Bowl, Miami
11/26/1949 - (#7) Rice 21, (#9) Baylor 7 — Rice Field, Houston
Source: Baylor football media guide