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A Comeback for the Ages

August 29, 2013
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Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
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(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

A COMEBACK FOR THE AGES

improbable rally lifts '55 Aggies past Rice

by Will Johnson
Texas A&M Football Show

In Houston, on November 12, 1955, the Fightin’ Texas Aggies looked beat.

"That’s the highlight. And we did it so much out of character, out of our game."

- John David Crow, on where the 1955 Rice game ranks in his football career

Ninth-ranked A&M trailed Rice, 12-0, as the closing minutes of the fourth quarter faded away. Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant had gambled, and started a halfback, Don Watson, at quarterback. The plan backfired, and the Aggies stalled.

With defeat out in front of his team, Bryant turned to signal caller Jimmy Wright, in hopes of a reversal of fortune.

“He said, ‘Jimmy come here’!” Wright recalls. “Get out there and straighten that damn mess out!”

Wright helped do just that, with a big assist from halfback Loyd Taylor.

Taylor’s 58-yard run to the Rice three got the ball rolling. He scored a couple plays later.

The Aggies then recovered the ensuing onside kick. Immediately after, Wright and Taylor went for it all, and the lead.

“We’d worked all week on splitting Bobby Joe Conrad out, and he was the only one to run the play. I hadn’t even run it in practice,” Taylor remembers with laughter. “And I said, ‘OK, where do I go Wright?’ He said, ‘Just straight down the sideline, and when you cross the goal line I’ll have the ball to you.’”

Wright proved prophetic, dropping a beautiful spiral into Taylor’s arms--in stride--for a 43-yard touchdown. All of a sudden it’s 14-12 Aggies.

Just to top it off, Jack Pardee intercepted an Owl aerial and returned it to the Rice 8-yard line.  Watson, having better luck at his more natural position, scored the final touchdown.

In lightning-quick fashion, and with just five offensive snaps of the football, the Aggies scored 20 points. And, in the process, ripped unexpected victory out of the hands of sure defeat.

Kevin Sumlin, Johnny Manziel and today’s Aggie offense would be envious of the torrid pace the ’55 team closed with in Houston. They’d have loved to see this display. The same could be said for esteemed sports writer Mickey Herskowitz, who was covering the game at Rice Stadium…but missed the comeback.

“He said he left at four minutes, got on the elevator to go down, and we were losing 12-0,” Wright recounts.  “He said when he got off the elevator, he saw Aggies running everywhere, screaming and hollering, saying ‘We won!’.  He said, ‘What do you mean we won?’”

It’s a comeback that was very similar to the one the Aggies managed against Ole Miss last year, but maybe even a little better. Members of the 12th Man who were in Oxford won’t forget that rally anytime soon, just like the faithful that was in West University on November 12, 1955 haven’t forgotten the miracle they witnessed. The men who created the improbable 20-12 victory are still pretty fond of it, too.

“Everybody has a lucky time in their life, and I guess that was mine,” Taylor says.

“It’s one of those games that you’ll always remember,” Wright states.  “You’ll always remember the plays, and all the teammates.  It’s a great win.”

I doubt you’ll find any Aggie, from the Class of ’55 to the Class of 2013, that’ll argue with that.


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