14th Annual Sugar Bowl Classic ~ January 1, 1948
#5 Texas 27 (10-1-0)
#6 Alabama 7 (8-3-0)
How Texas and Alabama Met in the 1948 Sugar Bowl
Harry Gilmer completed his first two passes, meaning after four years and two Sugar Bowls, he was 10-for-10 in the game.
But, like the Justice-Trippi matchup of the year before, the anticipated Gilmer-Bobby Layne aerial display didn’t materialize.
After his start, Gilmer misfired. After those two completions, Alabama’s offense was virtually finished for the day. And the Crimson Tide was its own worst enemy, committing three critical errors: having a punt blocked, an interception, and a fumble near its end zone. All three resulted in Texas touchdowns.
The combination of Texas’ alert defense and the swashbuckling Layne served Alabama its worst defeat in 10 bowl appearances.
Nine minutes and forty seconds after the opening kickoff, Texas scored. Layne drove the Longhorns 85 yards, a drive which included a 44-yard pass to Billy Pyle. The touchdown came on a five-yard pass to Ralph “Peppy” Blount, who was a 21-year-old war veteran and Texas legislator.
“Don’t get the idea this was a picnic, despite the score,” Blount said. “I made one catch and was knocked out-of-bounds into a pile of photographers on the sidelines. It was the softest landing I had all day.”
Playing with its back to the wall almost all day. ‘Bama went into the half with a tie after driving to the Texas 8 where Gilmer hit end Ed White. Longhorn Jim Canady almost intercepted as the ball crossed the goal, but White wrestled it away for the touchdown.
But the Longhorns got the winning points when Alabama’s Norman “Monk” Mosley attempted a punt from near the Tide goal. George Petrovich broke through to block it, and his roommate Victor Vasicek beat a heard of other Longhorns to the ball in the end zone.
The worst was yet to come for Gilmer, Lew Holder anticipated a Gilmer pass from behind the goal line, intercepted at the 20 and returned it for a touchdown. On the next possession, Gilmer, trying to throw from his 20, was tossed for a 10-yard loss and fumbled. Holder recovered at the 5. Layne scored the game’s last points on a dive.
“Thing about it,” said Gilmer of Layne’s 10-of-24 day for 183 yards, “Bobby hit about everything he put up.”
Gilmer ended his own sterling college career with his worst statistical performance, three completions on 11 attempts and five yards rushing.
“That was the first year they gave out the MVP award,” Blount said, “and I seem to recall walking into Pat O’Brien’s (a famed French Quarter night spot) and seeing ol’ Bobby drinking Hurricanes out of that trophy.” Layne said, “I don’t remember that…but I guess it’s possible.”
Jill Jackson found there was something sacred in the press box after all. It was the passageway to the little room she was allowed to visit, but only after every last man had filed the last word of every story. “Needless to say,” she said, “after several hours in that booth, on a cold, cold day, I was a stretcher case when I made it to the other side of the press box. I almost died. It wasn’t long after that I relinquished my role as America’s only female sports commentator. It has been much easier that way.”
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