Vanderbilt Athletics

CHC Vandy Alabama 1984

CHC- Vandy Upsets Tide in 1984


by Bill Traughber

The last time Vanderbilt beat Alabama in football was in 1984 in Tuscaloosa. The Commodores entered the game on a high note with a surprising 3-0 record. Coach George MacIntyre’s club rolled off wins over Kansas State, Maryland and Kansas.

Ray Perkins, who was in his second year at Alabama, led the Tide. The Crimson Tide was 1-2 with opening season losses to Boston College, Georgia Tech and a victory over SW Louisiana.

Vanderbilt had not defeated the Tide since Commodore quarterback Watson Brown led an upset in Nashville 14-10 in 1969. You have to go back 13 years before that game to find another Vandy win over Bama in 1956. The Commodores defeated Alabama that year 32-7. Alabama holds an all-time record against Vanderbilt, 57-19-4. The Commodores have won only three games in the series since 1956.

The series began in 1903 when Vanderbilt was a power in the South. The teams played annually from 1945 through 2002. The Tide won the last meeting in 2002 in Nashville, 20-8.

Kurt Page

But in 1984 Vanderbilt won the coin toss and Commodore quarterback Kurt Page led an opening drive into Alabama territory. When the drive stalled, kicker Ricky Anderson booted a 21-yard field goal to give the visitors an early 3-0 lead.

Just four minutes later, Alabama scored a touchdown on a one-yard plunge by running back Paul Ott Carruth. The 10-play scoring drive was aided by two key Vanderbilt penalties. With the ball on the Commodore 26-yard line and a third and eight, Thanh Anderson was called for pass interference.

Bama had the ball on the Vandy 6-yard line with a fourth down. Alabama’s Van Tiffin was called upon to kick a successful field goal. But Vanderbilt was called for an offside. Perkins took the points off the board and sent the offense back on the field. Carruth’s TD and Tiffin’s conversion put Bama up, 7-3.

In the second quarter all the scoring were field goals. Anderson kicked two field goals from 47 and 36 yards. In between those scores Vanderbilt’s Manual Young dropped a punt that was recovered by the Tide. That miscue led to 37-yard field goal by Tiffin. Alabama led 10-9 at halftime.

“Nobody was worried at halftime, but me,” MacIntyre said after the game. “The players had total confidence that we’d win.”

Added Vanderbilt defensive tackle Steve Wade, “I knew we were going to win going into the game. At halftime, I was sure of it. We hadn’t played very sharp and were still in it. Coach Mac said about what we expected and we just went out and did a job.”

Alabama got off to a quick start in the second half when Page was pressured by the Tide defense. Page fumbled the ball at the Vandy 21-yard line. The Commodore defense held forcing Tiffin to connect on a 37-yard field goal. Alabama extended their lead to 13-9.

Chuck Scott

Vanderbilt would follow with three unanswered touchdowns to put the game out of reach. Page found receiver Chuck Scott in the end zone corner for an 18-yard TD. Joe Kelly caught a quick 1-yard pass from Page and Thomas Woods capped the scoring with a 30-yard fourth quarter romp. Alabama added a late touchdown pass from quarterback Vince Sutton to Curruth and two-point conversion to end the scoring. Vanderbilt owned a 30-21 victory and a 4-0 record.

Jimmy Davy of the Tennessean wrote, “Vanderbilt’s unbeaten football team whipped Alabama 30-21 here yesterday and threw its black and goal helmets squarely in the Southeastern Conference championship race.

“Not too many minutes after the Commodores had be-headed the Crimson monsters who have tormented SEC foes for so many years. Vandy’s coach George MacIntyre let it be known he believes his club means business in the race for the 1984 championship.

“This wasn’t an upset. Were a contender in this league,” MacIntyre said above the shouts and cheers of most of the 2,500 Vandy followers surrounding the team buses and dressing room.”

The Vanderbilt win broke a 26-game homecoming win streak by Alabama. It was also only the twelfth loss at Bryant-Denny Stadium since it was built in 1929. Over 60,120 disappointed fans were in attendance.

Ricky Anderson

Anderson punted five times in the game for a 49.8 average. Tackle Karl Jordan was highlighted as one of the other defensive heroes of the afternoon. Anderson's three field goals and three conversions placed the senior as Vanderbilt’s all-time leading scorer. His 192 points held up until 2000 when kicker John Markham broke the record with 209 points.

Page pressured the Bama defense with his 19-of-32 passing for 218 yards. Woods, a sophomore, totaled 183 yards with 116 on the ground and 68 yards by receptions. The Commodores recorded 22 first downs and 386 total yards. The Crimson Tide totaled 15 first downs with 269 total yards.

It was reported that Perkins never called his conquerors by name in his post-game remarks distributed in the press box.

Junior Commodore Jeff Holt fractured his ankle during the game, but stood on the sideline in the final minutes when the game was no longer in question.

“My ankle is killing me,” Holt said. “But beating Alabama is easing the pain. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.”

Beating Alabama was something special since Vanderbilt had not won in the state of Alabama since 1940. Jordan, who was a senior from nearby Huntsville, was more excited than anyone.

“This has been my dream, my goal for years,” said Jordan. “ I can’t wait until Christmas. For the past four years, I have been avoiding Ricky Moore [Senior Bama RB from Huntsville] because I couldn’t look him in the eye.

“Hey, we are going to win the rest of our games. At Christmas, we’ll all be in New Orleans, getting ready for the bowl.”

Jordan’s reference to New Orleans was his desire to see Vanderbilt play in the New Year’s Day Sugar Bowl representing the SEC as champions.

That never came close to happening.

Vanderbilt lost the next three games to ranked teams Tulane (19th), LSU (12th) and Georgia (14th). The Commodores beat Mississippi then lost the final three games to Kentucky, Virginia Tech and Tennessee. Vanderbilt finished at 5-6, as did Alabama.

Next week read about Vanderbilt’s early beginnings in the 1890’s.

If you have any comments or suggestions you can contact Bill Traughber via e-mail at

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