On this day in sports history

BY COLIN “BIG C” MACGUIRE

The Greenville Standard

 

This New Year’s Day will be 40 years ago when Alabama beat Penn State 14-7 in the goal line stand game.

That play started Daniel Moore’s artistic career. I was a student manager that season. It was my first year with the team.

I did not travel with the team for the event. I went down with my family on Saturday, Dec. 30. My parents and sister stayed with my cousin and his wife. They were interns at Charity Hospital in New Orleans.

I stayed at team hotel, The Hyatt House which is adjacent to the Superdome. By the time I got to New Orleans practice that day was over. That night went out to eat with the family. I almost did not get back into my room because of security.

Fast forward to Monday, New Year’s Day kickoff at 1:08 that afternoon, we walked over to the Superdome from the room. I think the dressing room we used is the one The New Orleans Saints used.

Richard Edgar and I were assigned to run balls on the Penn State sideline. Before the game, I got to see Barry Krauss going out for warmups and I could tell he was ready.

The game was a head knocker from the get go. On one play, Jeff Rutledge got hit so hard, it looked like the Penn State player slammed the door in his face. Major Ogilvie got hit on his shoulder; he had to go in a winding motion to loosen it up.

The first quarter was scoreless. It looked like it was going to be that way going to the half. Alabama got a big play from Tony Nathan, which was a 30-yard to set up the touchdown.

Rutledge then passed to Bruce Bolton for 30-yard touchdown pass with eight seconds before the half, Alabama 7 Penn State 0.

In the third quarter, it went back and forth. Penn State intercepted Alabama to set up their first touchdown. Penn State scored on a Chuck Fusina to Scott Fitzkee pass to tie the score 7-7.

The Momentum had shifted to Penn State. It was that way until Lou Ikner returned a Penn State punt 62 yards to the Penn State eight yard line. Major Ogilivie scored on a eight yard run for Alabama to go up 14-7.

Now the fourth quarter starts, no scoring, a lot of excitement though. A Jeff Rutledge to Tony Nathan pitchout was fumbled and recovered by Penn State at the Alabama 17.

Here is how the fireworks played out. Penn State completes 11-yard pass to the Bama 6-yard line. On first down, Penn State runs the ball to the Bama 2-yard line.

Don McNeal makes picture perfect tackle on Penn State receiver Scott Fitzee inside the one. On third down, David Hannah breaks through the Penn State line to stop runner at the line.

Penn State calls timeout to talk it over. The ball was 10 inches away. The defensive line held the line and Barry Krauss almost knocks himself out but makes the play.

Gut check. Alabama passed it. Alabama was forced to punt. The punt traveled 12 yards. Alabama got a break; Penn State had 12 men on the field and it was an automatic first down. Ten years earlier, Penn State got the same break which helped them win the Orange Bowl. The got a remake on a two point conversion, because Kansas had 12 men on the field.

It was the second time, made it and won.

Alabama kept the ball, then pinned Penn State back. Penn State on its’ last offensive play threw an interception, it was almost returned for a touchdown. Alabama ran out the clock.

Two days later was selected the 1978 Associated Press National Champions.

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