Monday, August 1, 2011
Yards to Glory, SEC version
By Chris Low
We kicked off a series Monday at ESPN.com that we're calling "Yards to Glory."
It's a look at some of the most famous touchdown plays in college football history, spanning from 100-plus yards all the way to zero yards.
We've got every yard marker covered, and not surprisingly, the SEC is well represented.
The first installment looks at touchdown plays from 100-plus yards to 81 yards, and eight of those plays involve SEC teams.
Here's a rundown:
100-plus. Tiger Return
Richie Luzzi returns missed FG 108 yards
Sept. 28, 1968: The official NCAA record books don't list any returns longer than 100 yards, but Clemson fans and historians know Richie Luzzi was eight yards deep in the end zone when he caught Georgia's 47-yard missed field goal attempt and ran it back for what still stands as the longest play in Clemson history. The three-time defending ACC champs lost the game in Athens, Ga., 31-13, but Luzzi's play in the second quarter gave the Tigers some momentum -- and history.
-- Heather Dinich
98. Opening Statement
Gene McEver takes back opening kickoff versus Alabama
Oct. 20, 1928: Gene McEver returned the game's opening kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown to help Tennessee beat heavily favored Alabama 15-13 at Denny Field in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The game rekindled the Alabama-Tennessee series, and the Vols and their third-year coach, Robert Neyland, launched themselves into the upper tier of Southern college football powerhouses. That win was also part of a 33-game stretch in which Tennessee didn't lose a game from 1926-30.
-- Chris Low
95. Out Of Bounds
Dickie Maegle awarded TD after illegal tackle
Jan. 1, 1954: With Rice leading 7-6, Owls star Dickie Maegle caught a kickoff at his 5-yard line and took off down the Alabama sideline. Tide fullback Tommy Lewis, watching from the sideline, would have none of it. Lewis, sans helmet, raced onto the field and flattened Maegle just past midfield. The officials, sticklers for rules, awarded Maegle the touchdown. Lewis gained celebrity that remains unwanted to this day. His explanation: "I guess I'm too full of Alabama."
-- Ivan Maisel
92. Run, Lindsay, Run
Buck Belue and Lindsay Scott keep Georgia undefeated
Nov. 8, 1980: With No. 1 Georgia trailing Florida 21-20 with 90 seconds left, UGA receiver Lindsay Scott caught a pass from quarterback Buck Belue at UGA's 25-yard line and ran for a 92-yard touchdown to defeat Florida 26-21, keeping the Bulldogs' undefeated and national championship-winning season intact. It was the greatest single play in one of college football's greatest rivalries and produced one of the greatest play-by-play calls in sports radio history.
-- Mark Schlabach
89. Halloween Havoc
Billy Cannon's punt return sparks
LSU Oct. 31, 1959: In perhaps the most famous play in SEC history, LSU's Billy Cannon broke seven tackles in taking back a punt 89 yards for a touchdown on Halloween night to lift No. 1-ranked LSU to a 7-3 victory over No. 3-ranked Ole Miss at Tiger Stadium. He fielded the punt on the bounce at his own 11 and began shedding Ole Miss defenders before finally breaking into the clear. Cannon won the Heisman Trophy that season.
-- Chris Low
86. Heath Bar
Leon Heath starts Sugar Bowl rout
Jan. 2, 1950: No. 2 Oklahoma entered the 1950 Sugar Bowl at 9-0, and former LSU player Piggy Barnes must have been worried about his Tigers, who entered at 8-1 and ranked No. 10. Barnes was caught spying on Oklahoma's practices with a telescope and camera, but it didn't work well. Leon Heath broke a scoreless tie in the second quarter with an 86-yard run and added a 34-yard run later in the quarter to send the Sooners to a 35-0 win and take home MVP honors.
-- David Ubben
85. Block Party
Floyd Miley scores off a blocked field goal
Nov. 9, 1991: With Tennessee trailing by 24 to national title contender Notre Dame, the Volunteers' Floyd Miley changed everything when he returned a blocked Craig Hentrich field goal attempt 85 yards for a touchdown just before halftime. Hentrich sprained his knee on the play and was replaced by sophomore walk-on Rob Leonard. The Vols eventually charged back to upset the fifth-ranked Irish 35-34 in South Bend, after Leonard missed a last-second 27-yard field goal.
-- Edward Aschoff
81. Propelling Punt
Ken Hatfield's punt return beats Texas
Oct. 17, 1964: The Longhorns were the defending national champions, ranked No. 1 and solidly favored to beat rival Arkansas for the fourth year in a row. But when Texas punter Ernie Koy outkicked his coverage, Ken Hatfield made the Horns pay with a well-blocked runback that propelled the Razorbacks to a 14-13 victory. Arkansas shut out its next five opponents, then beat Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl to win the national title. Hatfield went on to coach the Hogs in the 1980s, and his .760 winning percentage remains the best in school history.
-- Pat Forde