Dec. 10, 2008
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VU Ties Texas Tech in Peach Bowl (pdf) | History Corner Archive
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Congratulations to Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl bound Commodores! In tribute, CHC is reviewing the Commodores only three previous bowl appearances. To read about the Gator Bowl in 1955 check last week's CHC.
It was not known at the time, but the 1974 Peach Bowl would be the last game for Steve Sloan to coach Vanderbilt. The 1974 Commodores entered the seventh annual Peach Bowl in Atlanta Stadium with a 7-3-1 record.
Only 25,000 fans were in attendance with the majority belonging to Vanderbilt. A light rain throughout the game contributed to poor playing conditions. The Commodores opponent was Texas Tech, who was coached by Jim Carlen. It was known that this would be Carlen's last game at Tech, as he would become the new head coach at South Carolina.
The game ended in a 6-6 deadlock with field goals accounting for all the scoring. Both defenses would dominate the game. Defensive tackle Dennis Harrison was a Commodore freshman and dominated on defense to earn MVP honors. His blocked field goal attempt was a key factor in preventing a Commodore loss.
Vanderbilt never trailed in the game. Late in the first half, Vanderbilt quarterback David Lee, overthrew a pass to Walter Overton that was intercepted in the Red Raider end zone. A few plays later, Jay Chesley picked off a Tech pass returning the ball to the Raider 14-yard line. The short drive stalled and Mark Adams booted a Vandy field goal good for 30 yards. The Commodores led, 3-0.
Just before the half ended, Tech intercepted another Vanderbilt pass and drove to the Commodore one-yard line. This was Tech's only scoring threat in the first half. With less than a minute until intermission, Tech running back Larry Isaac was stopped for no gain. With one timeout and the clock down to 14 seconds, Isaac was stymied again for no yards gained.
Only two seconds remained when the Raiders attempted another rush into the stubborn Vandy line. The results were the same as Tech failed to advance the ball on third down and the clock expired. The 12,000 Vanderbilt fans roared as the outstanding defensive stand occurred in their end zone.
In the third period, Tech drove the ball from its seven-yard line to the Commodore 10. Vanderbilt held and Raider kicker Brian Hall tied the game at 3-3 with a 26-yard field goal. Later, a Tech fumble gave Vanderbilt another scoring opportunity at the Raider 18-yard line. After three plays failed to make a first down, Adams kicked a 26-yard field goal and a 6-3 Commodore lead with 5:11 left in the game.
Laurence Williams took the Vanderbilt kickoff 54 yards (a then-Peach Bowl record) to set up Tech's final field goal. The Raiders eventually kicked a 35-yard field at the 2:27 mark to finalize the score at 6-6.
Several Peach Bowl records were recorded that day in the "fewest" category. They include: times penalized, one each; points scored both teams, 12; passes completed both teams, 8 (Tech 3, Vandy 5); yards passing both teams, 95 (Tech 35, Vandy 60); yards total offense both teams, 541 (Tech 341, Vandy 200); first downs one team, Vandy 10.
After the game, Carlen was asked about not throwing the ball away on third down during the crucial late first half scoring chance at the Vandy one.
"I called two plays from the sidelines and if we didn't get it in then, I told him (quarterback Tommy Duniven) to kill the clock so that we could set up for a field goal," said Carlen. "The boy felt that we could get it in on the third down play. But I must give credit where credit is due; Vandy made three fine plays. I accept responsibility for those calls.
"Failing to score before the half hurt and we also got a field goal blocked. That's never happened since I've been at Tech. If I had known how big and mean No. 77 (Harrison) is, I'm not sure I would have tried that field goal."
Vanderbilt was led in rushing by Jamie O' Rouke with 76 yards. Isaac and Cliff Hoskins led the Raider rushers with 101 and 116 yards respectively. Because of the deadlocked game, Peach Bowl officials announced that duplicate champions trophies would be awarded.
"For whatever reason, we didn't click offensively," Sloan said after the game. "It rained and we were a dry field team, but sometimes you just don't click and this was one of those days. But I was happy for the kids that we didn't lose. A tie is better than a loss and our kids didn't deserve to lose."
"We get a trophy which we will put in McGugin Center that will serve to remember this bowl team. But we don't need the trophy to remember this team. Vanderbilt fans everywhere will recall this year and this football team. And they will be as proud as I am.
"I just want everyone to know that being associated with this Vanderbilt football team--you guys have worked so hard--has given me my biggest thrill as a player or as a coach. I'm thrilled to be a part of this team. Man, I just want you to know that I appreciate it."
Vanderbilt finished the season at 7-3-2 and participated in only the university's second bowl game (Gator Bowl win in 1955) Sloan, only 30 years old, shocked the Vanderbilt community by announcing weeks later that he was leaving the Commodore program for the now vacated coaching position at Texas Tech. Sloan was Carlen's replacement. He was also named the SEC Coach-of-the-Year.
In his just two years at Vanderbilt, Sloan compiled a 12-9-3 record, but remains one of the most popular coaches with the Commodore followers. The former All-American quarterback at Alabama, spent three years at Texas Tech. Sloan guided the Red Raiders to two bowl games and the 1976 co-championship of the Southwest Conference. Sloan later coached at Ole Miss (1978-82) and Duke (1983-86). He became athletic director at Alabama, but returned to Vanderbilt as offensive coordinator (1990) under Watson Brown.
Sloan later became athletic director at Central Florida and UT-Chattanooga.
Next week read about Vanderbilt playing in the 1982 Hall of Fame Bowl in Birmingham against Air Force.
If you have any comments or suggestions you can contact Bill Traughber via e-mail WLTraughber@aol.com.