Throwback Thursday: 1948 Sugar Bowl, Alabama vs. Texas

Alabama has had a lot of great games in New Orleans, but the 1948 Sugar Bowl wasn't one of them
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Some of the most celebrated backs in Southeastern Conference history saw their collegiate careers end in disappointment in New Orleans, with a Sugar Bowl loss to mark their final game. 

The list includes Billy Cannon (1960), Johnny Majors (1957), Hank Lauricella (1952), and Alabama's Harry Gilmer in 1948.  

Three years previous, Gilmer had enjoyed nearly everything the Sugar Bowl had to offer even though Alabama took a narrow loss to a much-older Duke team. Grantland Rice called the then 18-year-old Gilmer “the greatest college passer I ever saw.”

This time, though, he was thwarted by Texas, 27-7. 

Gilmer, who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993, completed only three of his 11 passes and ran for a mere five yards. His Texas counterpart, quarterback Bobby Layne, was 10-for-24 for 183 yards to lead the victory. 

“Thing about it, Bobby hit about everything he put up," Gilmer said about Layne in the book “Sugar Bowl Classic: A History” by Marty Mulé.

Although both ground attacks were virtually ineffective as Alabama rushed for 41 yards and Texas to 59, the Crimson Tide offense played a lot of the game deep in its own territory.  

After the first half ended in a 7-7 standoff, three costly errors did in the Crimson Tide. 

The first was a blocked punt, with Texas lineman George Petrovich knocking the ball down and Vic Vasicek recovering it in the end zone.

Twice the Crimson Tide defense stalled Texas drives within its own 10, but under pressure Gilmer tried to get rid of the ball only to have Longhorns end Lewis Holder take advantage and return the interception 18 yards into the end zone.  

A few plays later, Holder pounced on a Gilmer fumble at the 5, with Layne eventually scoring on a sneak. 

“Don’t get the idea this was a picnic, despite the score,” said Ralph “Peppy” Blount, who scored the Longhorn's first touchdown. “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.”