Inaugural Sugar Bowl Classic
January 1, 1935
#13 Tulane 20 (Final: 10-1, #8)
#3 Temple 14 (Final: 7-1-2, #9)
How Tulane and Temple Met in the 1935 Sugar Bowl
Looking Back to the First Sugar Bowl by Marty Mulé for the New Orleans Advocate, 12/4/14
Claude “Monk” Simons was a Tulane football hero, used to acclaim and applause. But he was the unlikely hero of the first Sugar Bowl.
Dave Smukler of visiting Temple – described by an admiring New Orleans sportswriter Pie Dufour as “212 pounds of speed and power who asked nothing more of his own line but that it get out of his way and let him run” – was the pre-game focus. Simons, playing one month after fracturing a shoulder in the act of a game-winning punt-return against LSU, proved every bit the equal of the heralded Smukler. He would eventually ignite the Tulane offense, setting the stage for (A) yet another notable performance by end Dick Hardy and (B) a dramatic victory on that cool, cloudy afternoon.
Wearing a shoulder pad made partly of rubber to protect the injury, Simons sprinkled the first glitter of Sugar Bowl lore into the classic.
Early on, aided strongly on the bounce of the ball, Smukler and Temple held the upper hand.
Two first half fumbles, on the Tulane 10 and 18, gave Temple two touchdowns, and Smuckler had a hand in both – a seven-yard pass to Danny Testa, who eased just over the goal behind a defensive back, Simons; and then Smukler catapulted over center from the 2.
Temple was in front 14-0, having to go a total of 28 yards in six plays for its two-touchdown lead.
“In case you hadn’t guessed,” Tulane assistant Lester Lautenschlaeger recalled, “We weren’t in the best of spirits at the time.”
They would pick up with the first spectacular play in Sugar Bowl history.
Temple kicked off from within 10 yards of the sideline to keep the return man bottled up on one side. The Wave’s Johnny McDaniel took the ball on the 10 and ran up a few yards, drawing most of the Owl coverage to him. Then he lateralled to Simons, five yards behind at the 15 and running in the opposite direction. A pair of defenders were fooled just for a blink, and then gave chase to the ball-carrier.
Unable to shake the pursuing Owls, Simons almost skimmed the sidelines.
Simons vividly recalled a huge cherry-jerseyed figure with outstretched arms that seemed to cover the width of the field and appeared ready to enclose him at the 35. “It looked like he had me pinned to the sidelines,” Simons said. But Greenie Stanley Lodrigues came out of nowhere to take the defender out. “That was the biggest obstacle in my path,” Simons said. “The rest of the team set up a wall and I simply ran down the sideline. No one laid a hand on me.”
By the time he reached the Tulane 40, Simons was in the clear.
It was Simons’ 11th touchdown of the season and it set the tone for the second half.
Late in the third quarter, Bucky Bryan broke off a breath-taking 28-yard gain to again put the Green Wave in scoring position. From the 11, Bryan flicked a quick pass to Hardy, who leaped high between two Owls and came down with the ball in the end zone, despite one defender still clinging to his back. Barney Mintz’ PAT tied the score.
Hardy, really as much a hero as Simons, also gave Tulane the lead – and ultimately the victory – with an impromptu play. At the Owl 48, Horace “Bucco” Mowrey diagnosed Mintz’s next attempt perfectly and stepped squarely between passer and receiver, Hardy, at precisely the right instant. But the ball brushed Mowrey’s fingers and flew up. Hardy rushed over, took the ball on the run, and raced untouched the remaining 15 yards as Wilfred Longsdert dove desperately and futilely at his heels. It was the third sensational reception of the day for Hardy.
Longsdert kept Temple’s hopes alive by blocking Mintz’s conversion to keep the score at 20-14, but that’s how things would end.
Simons laughed years later that he could still see Smukler at the post-game party, wearing a derby and a seersucker suit and smoking a cigar. Members of both teams were given the suits, then a novelty. “It’s a hellava thing,” Smukler told Simons, “to come all the way down here and wind up with a pair of pajamas.”
Smukler came down for more than that. The attendance of 22,026 allowed the Mid-Winter Sports Association to present each school with a check of $27,800, almost double their guarantee. The quality and derring-do of Temple and Tulane left fans buzzing.
The Sugar Bowl was in business.
Recap excerpted from the book “Sugar Bowl Classic: A History” by Marty Mulé, who covered the game and the organization for decades for the New Orleans Times-Picayune.