Nov. 19, 2008
Former Vanderbilt football player Bob Sullins scored his lone college touchdown in 1964; it became a memorable part of his life. After all, it came against those pesky Volunteers from Knoxville in a 7-0 Commodore victory at Dudley Field. Sullins (1961-62, 1964) had been limited by injuries in his five years at Vanderbilt that included a broken leg and a torn shoulder.
“Everybody in the stands knew who was going to carry the ball when we got down to the goal line,” Sullins said recently and was Vanderbilt’s leading rusher in 1964. “John Bibb (Tennessean sports writer) and Waxo Green (Banner sports writer) both had been writing about me being ranked in the Top 10 in rushing in the conference, but never scoring a touchdown.”
Vanderbilt head coach Jack Green was in his second year leading the Commodores. The Commodores entered the game 2-6-1 with wins over Wake Forest and George Washington. They also recorded a tie with SEC foe Mississippi. First-year head coach Doug Dickey led UT. The Vols were in a rebuilding mode and were 4-4-1.
The game was scoreless at halftime thanks to a stubborn Vanderbilt goal line defensive stand just before intermission. Earlier Vanderbilt defender, Dave Malone, stopped one Vols drive with an interception. The Vols had first down on the Commodores’ five-yard line. UT’s Jack Patterson ran the ball twice inside to the two-yard line. On third down quarterback Art Galiffa attempted a sneak, but was stopped at the one.
On fourth down Patterson got the call again, but slipped going to the outside and was hammered by Vandy cornerback Bennett Baldwin (1962-64) on the one-yard line. That was the Vols best chance in the game to cross the goal line.
“UT was on our two-yard line and it was fourth down, “Baldwin said recently from his Nashville home. “They ran off-tackle and I made the tackle to keep them out of the end zone. I had help from Paul Guffee. They had a fullback named Patterson and he ran off tackle between the tackle and the end. They closed down and I came up and made the hit. Guffee was right there with me and we stopped them at the one-half yard line. They would have scored the touchdown and had a lot of momentum going into halftime.”
On the first drive in the third period, Vanderbilt started on its 40-yard line. The big play in the drive was an old college maneuver in the “Statue of Liberty” play. Toby Wilt, playing from his halfback position, took the ball from quarterback Bob Kerr and scampered 40 yards down to the Vols four-yard line. On his second rushing attempt, Sullins bolted his way into the end zone.
“We ran a “Statue of Liberty” play from about our 40-yard line,” said Sullins who was born in Knoxville. “Bob Kerr was the quarterback who ran it perfectly. Toby Wilt ran it down to the four-yard line. Actually, Jackie Cotton, a Tennessee defensive back, tripped him up on the 10-yard line and he was stumbling towards the end zone and went out at the four-yard line.
“It took us two attempts to get it in from there. The play was designed to run off-tackle behind Gary Hart and Joe Graham on that side of the line. They did a terrific job. Bill Juday was the center. Our defense played well all day long. There were a lot of emotions carried into the locker room at halftime after our defense made that great goal line stand. That gave us a little momentum. They had a defensive nose tackle named (Steve) Delong. This was his last game of his senior year and he was going to be drafted pretty high in the NFL. We were worried about Delong because he covered a wide range of territory at nose tackle.”
The Vanderbilt coaches named the Wilt play “Sally Rand.” It was a naked reverse play, which was named for the famous stripper of the time.
This would be Vanderbilt’s best scoring opportunity. In the first half the Commodores were hampered by poor field position not getting past their own 43-yard line. Vanderbilt did hang on for the 7-0 win as they ran out the fourth quarter clock while sitting at the Vols 31-yard line.
Sullins finished his career as the game’s leading rusher with 60 yards in 19 carries. He also led the Commodores that season in rushing with 512 yards on 133 carries (3.8 avg.). Vanderbilt collected 147 total rushing yards to the Vols 73. The Commodores only attempted three passes in the game that all fell incomplete. The Vols were 10-of-16 passing for 172 yards. Tennessee had an edge in first downs 12-5 in this defensive struggle.
Most of the game was a punting battle between Commodore Jerry Shuford and UT’s Ron Widby. This was Vanderbilt’s first win over the Vols since 1959, the first in Nashville since 1954 and the third since 1948. It was Coach Green’s first SEC victory. The Dudley Field attendance was estimated at 30,000. The season ended for both teams.
“It was a terrific day for us,” said Sullins. “There was a blue sky and a great fall day for us to enjoy. It was one of those moments that you won’t forget. It was so good for Jack Green who had been struggling with his team all year long. We were just going to run the ball straight at them and that was the way Jack Green was. He was more of a defensive coach than an offensive coach. We were just going to run it straight at them with few trick plays.”
The Washington Redskins in the 1965 NFL draft selected Baldwin. He was the sixth pick in the 15th round. At Vanderbilt, Baldwin played cornerback on defense and receiver on the offensive side of the ball. His teammate, tackle Hart, was also selected in the 17th round of the same draft.
“It was the last game of the year playing our rivals,” said Baldwin who is originally from Lakeland, Fla. “We didn’t have any special game plan on defense; it just boiled down to the rivalry and the dislike we had for Tennessee. We had some big tackles and did some defensive things that helped us during the game. It probably wasn’t a very exciting game for spectators to watch, but back then you didn’t score 40 points a game. You threw the ball a dozen times or so a game. The defenses were pretty much the same.
“It was pandemonium in the locker room after the game. To win against your archrival that we hadn’t beaten in years was special. Being the last game of the year and playing in my last game at Vanderbilt made it that much more special. Occasionally, I am asked about that game. You only talk about the ones that you win and we didn’t win that many. That was a great game for us.”
Traughber’s Tidbit: A week before Vanderbilt’s first football game in its history in 1890, coach-captain Elliott Jones and a teammate climbed a tree on the Peabody campus and spied on their practice for an hour. “We got very useful information,” said Jones. Vandy beat Peabody, 40-0.
Tidbit Two: In 1907, Coach Dan McGugin went to Atlanta to scout Sewanee’s game with Georgia Tech. But the referee got sick before the game and McGugin ended up as the game official.
Tidbit Three: The 1891 Vanderbilt yearbook contains an editorial that says Vanderbilt will never be able to compete against strong teams without better practice facilities.
If you have any comments or suggestions you can contact Bill Traughber via e-mail WLTraughber@aol.com.