the game

Game Recaps : 1950s



MVP: Travis Tidwell, Auburn
NORTH COACH: Bo McMillin, Lions
SOUTH COACH: Steve Owen, Giants
TOP PLAYERS: Doak Walker, Travis Tidwell, Charlie Justice, Eddie LeBaron

When Nashville businessman Jimmie Pearre decided to stage the first Senior Bowl all-star game in Jacksonville, Florida's Gator Bowl on January 7, 1950, he not only laid the groundwork for a contest that would immediately become the most unique football game in the country, but one that would soon develop into one of the nation's premier sporting events.

It was decided that the game would feature college football's finest senior stars being coached for the first time in their careers by coaching staffs from the National Football League. The event was also structured so that those same players would also receive a percentage of the game's proceeds (a practice which was eventually discontinued in 1989).

SMU's Doak Walker, Charlie Justice of North Carolina and Tulane's Eddie Price entered the inaugural contest as the game's most highly touted stars, but it was Auburn's Travis Tidwell who emerged as its MVP, as the South took a 22-13 victory in front of 16,487 fans. Tidwell threw for two touchdowns and set up a third as he completed 13-of-19 passes for 227 yards.



MVP: Bucky Curtis, Vanderbilt
NORTH COACH: Bo McMillin, Lions
SOUTH COACH: Steve Owen, Giants
TOP PLAYERS: Bob Gain, Kyle Rote

Because of poor attendance at the inaugural Senior Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida, a group of Mobile businessmen, headed by Finley McRae, lured the contest to the Port City where, after a less than spectacular attendance turnout in 1951, it has flourished ever since.

In the 1951 game, Vanderbilt's Bucky Curtis put on a dazzling exhibition of pass catching and rushing to earn MVP honors in the South's 19-18 win. Curtis caught two touchdowns, set up a third and was on the receiving end of seven of the eight passes the South completed.



MVP: Al Dorow, Michigan St.
NORTH COACH: Paul Brown, Browns
SOUTH COACH: Steve Owen, Giants
TOP PLAYERS: Babe Parilli, Frank Gifford

The 1952 game was the first to be played under the sponsorship of the newly-formed Mobile Arts and Sports Association (MASA), the non-profit organization that still puts on the contest today.

It featured the passing of Wisconsin's John Coatta and fine play by future Pro Football Hall of Famer Frank Gifford of USC and Al Dorow of Michigan State, the game's MVP. The trio led the North to its first win ever, 20-6.

Dorow had the game's biggest play - an 87-yard interception return for touchdown off a pass thrown by Vanderbilt All-American Bill Wade, while Coatta connected with Gifford on a three-yard scoring toss for the final score.



MVP: Harry Agganis, Boston
NORTH COACH: Paul Brown, Browns
SOUTH COACH: Steve Owen, Giants
TOP PLAYERS: Harry Agganis, Joe Schmidt, Dick Modzelewski

Harry Agganis of Boston University led the North's passing attack as the slingin' southpaw outshined Maryland's All-American passer Jack Scarbath in the North's 28-13 win. Aggnais passed for two touchdowns and set up a third, all while doing double duty on defense and intercepting two South passes.



MVP: Gene Filipski, Villanova
NORTH COACH: Paul Brown, Browns
SOUTH COACH: Steve Owen, Giants
TOP PLAYERS: Zeke Bratkowski, Vince Dooley, Max McGee

Coach Paul Brown's North squad scored a thrilling come-from-behind 20-14 win in front of a crowd of 28,174. Villanova's Gene Filipski and Maryland's Ralph Felton led a devastating North ground attack that rolled up 266 yards.

Alabama's Tommy Lewis set up the South's first score in the second quarter with a 26-yard run, which led to a 50-yard TD pass by Georgia's Zeke Bratkowski. But, the North countered with two scores to lead 13-7 at the half. The South then scored on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, when Bratkowski hit Tulane's Max McGee for a 60-yard touchdown, giving the South a 14-13 lead.

The North then grinded out a 95-yard drive on 18 plays - 17 were rushes - to give Brown his third straight Senior Bowl win.



MVP: Bobby Freeman, Auburn
NORTH COACH: Paul Brown, Browns
SOUTH COACH: Steve Owen, Giants
TOP PLAYERS: Alan Ameche

A record crowd of 30,030 saw Auburn quarterback Bobby Freeman win MVP honors and lead two long touchdown drives in the second half to help the South snap its three-game losing streak, 12-6.

The North took an early 6-0 first-half lead, paced by Heisman Trophy winner Alan Ameche of Wisconsin.

But, the South finally got on track with its bruising ground attack, led by Frank Eidom of SMU and Maryland's Dick Bielski, who accounted for 260 yards. They each found pay dirt in the second half to give the South the win and even the series at 3-3.



MVP: Don Goss, SMU
NORTH COACH: Buddy Parker, Lions
SOUTH COACH: Paul Brown, Browns
TOP PLAYERS: Sam Huff, Howard Schnellenberger

A little deja vu was in the cards for the 1956 contest, as another Auburn star, Joe Childress, played a major role in the South victory. He scored the team's only touchdowns, witnessed by a record crowd of 31,782, as the South again scored 12 points to win, 12-2.

However, Don Goss, SMU's mammoth tackle, earned the game's MVP award for a dominating defensive performance for the South.

Former Alabama Governor Fob James of Auburn and SMU's Don McIlhenny carried the load on offense as the South marched it down the field for its first touchdown, finished off by Childress' two-yard plunge. The South closed out the scoring on Childress' second two-yard TD run of the game as coach Paul Brown scored his first victory as South coach, after coaching the North the previous four years.



MVP: Don Bosseler, Miami
NORTH COACH: Joe Kuharich, Redskins
SOUTH COACH: Paul Brown, Browns
TOP PLAYERS: Len Dawson, Jack Pardee

The South used a hard-nosed running attack that accounted for a Senior Bowl-record 370 rushing yards - a record that still stands - and Miami running back Don Bosseler scored two fourth-period touchdowns to carve out a 21-7 South.

Future Pro Football Hall of Famer Len Dawson of Purdue got the North on the board first with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Michigan's Terry Barr. The lead was short-lived as the South drove 73 yards on the ensuing possession, capped off by a three-yard scoring run by Georgia's Del Shofner. After a scoreless third period, the South then exploded for the two fourth quarter touchdowns for its third straight win and a 5-3 series lead.



MVP: Jim Taylor, LSU
NORTH COACH: Joe Kuharich, Redskins
SOUTH COACH: Paul Brown, Browns
TOP PLAYERS: Jim Taylor, Jerry Kramer, Jim Phillips, Charley Krueger, Ray Nitschke, Chuck Howley, Gene Hickerson, Alex Karras

Fans were treated to one of the most exciting games in the event's young history, as the North squad squeaked out a 15-13 nail-biter in the first game broadcast on national television.

The contest is best remembered, however, for its outstanding cast of future NFL stars which included Jerry Kramer, Charley Krueger, Jim Phillips, Gene Hickerson, Chuck Howley, Alex Karras and Pro Football Hall of Famers Jim Taylor of LSU, who was named the game's MVP, and Illinois' Ray Nitschke, who starred in a running/linebacking role for the North.

Trailing, 15-13, in the game's final moments, the South drove to a first down on the North's seven-yard line. The drive stalled on the North two and Auburn's Billy Atkins came on for the potential game winning field goal attempt with just 28 seconds left. But the 19-yard kick missed wide left and the North had its first victory in four years.



MVP: Theron Sapp, Georgia / Norm Odyniec, Notre Dame
NORTH COACH: Joe Kuharich, Redskins
SOUTH COACH: Paul Brown, Browns
TOP PLAYERS: Alex Hawkins

Notre Dame's Norm Odyniec and Theron Sapp of Georgia each scored two touchdowns and shared the MVP Award (a Senior Bowl first), but Sapp's South squad pulled out a 21-12 win.

Odyniec rushed for a record 192 yards - which still stands today - and added two scores, while Sapp gained 158 for the South and also added two TD's. But, it was the South's Buddy Humphrey who made the difference. The Baylor quarterback threw one TD pass in the first quarter and then connected with Mississippi State's Billy Stacy on a 52-yarder to set up the South's second touchdown.

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