Tuesday, August 31, 2010

For openers: Southern Miss, BB (Before Brett)

Counting down to Southern Mississippi at South Carolina, Thursday at 7:30 Eastern, check your local listings ...

Well of course there was life in Hattiesburg (OK, maybe not nightlife so much) before the Kiln Cannon brought his act to town. (And let's clear up one thing while we're at it: those 2 and a half feet of intestines Favre had pulled out before the 1990 'Bama-beatin' season? They're long gone. They're part of the lore now, NOT part of the reasonably priced medical-waste collection you're seeing on eBay. Accept no substitutes.)

So let's go back let's go back let's go way on to way back when. The year was 1953. Mississippi Southern College, as it was called then, opens the season against fifth-ranked Alabama (led by some guy named Bart Starr) in Montgomery. We'll let "The USA Today College Football Encyclopedia" take it from here:

Mississippi Southern 25, Alabama 19: Strong-armed Mississippi Southern (1-0) HB Hugh Pepper did more running (115y, including dazzling 66y TD) and catching (45y TD) than he did pitching in huge upset of No. 5 Crimson Tide (0-1). Pepper would go on to hurl one National League win in summer of 1954, but would finish with a 2-8 career pitching mark. Alabama was able to to build 19-12 lead by H on TDs by FB Tommy Lewis, HB Bill Oliver and E Curtis Lynch. Bama regulars wilted in 4th Q, necessitating reserves taking over. Eagles proceeded to score 2 TDs against Alabama subs. Mississippi Southern, it was learned the next day, had made membership application to new ACC, but never accomplished that goal.

Alabama would go on to win the SEC title with a 4-0-3 conference record. Mississippi Southern? Their season would include wins over Georgia (with Zeke Bratkowski), Florida State and the Parris Island Marines.

Why all the fuss over a game almost a half-century ago? Consider:

* The Dixie Darlings were first formed at Mississippi Southern the next year (debuting in yet another win over Alabama) setting hearts a-flutter for years to come.
* Hugh Pepper was my high school football coach.
* And if the name Tommy Lewis vaguely rang a bell in the game summary, maybe you better remember him for this Cotton Bowl moment that year:

Let the games begin.

-- R. Trentham Roberts


Anonymous said...

I'm sure Mr. Gordon is thrilled that this was brought up. Sure to make Nick Saban's butt cheeks tighter than ever as well.

Let the games begin indeed. WAR EAGLE!