The traditional buildup of Sugar Bowl excitement began the day after Christmas with the arrival of the Pitt squad. Over all the folderol of greetings and parties loomed the figure of a dark-skinned young reserve Pitt fullback from Massillon, O. named Bob Grier, first Negro ever to play in a Sugar Bowl football game. Made a cause cél√®bre by the earlier racist ravings of Georgia Governor Marvin Griffin, Grier came to New Orleans amid trumpetings by Pitt officials and Sugar Bowl big shots that he would be treated just like a white boy.
While the Georgia Tech team quartered at the downtown St. Charles Hotel, the Pitt squad forsook its Hotel Roosevelt headquarters to stay in dormitories on the Tulane campus. Georgia Tech players were given a free hand to do what they wanted downtown—even tour the French Quarter joints—but Pitt stayed in seclusion. Said young Bob Grier earnestly: "I hope I don't cause any trouble." As it turned out, Pitt's trouble on Sugar Bowl day came addressed to Grier in person. After Tech recovered a Pitt fumble in the opening minutes of the game, Quarterback Wade Mitchell lofted a high pass to End Don Ellis in the end zone. Pitt's Grier, not noted for defensive finesse, got so inextricably tangled up with Ellis that interference was called and Georgia Tech took over on the Pitt one-yard line. Mitchell pushed it over two plays later, and a moment after that the score was 7-0, so to remain for the rest of the day. Quarterback Mitchell ("tremendous defensive man"—SI, Dec. 26) added to his laurels by making a succession of saving tackles, four of them in a row within his own 10-yard line, to stop a crunching Pitt attack.
In general, at every crucial moment Tech was equal to the task. The Georgians forced four fumbles and recovered two. They held magnificently on their one-foot line to stop a 79-yard drive, and the light but agile Tech line rushed Pitt passers so hard whenever the Panthers threatened thereafter that the throws were seldom accurate. The game followed the classic Bobby Dodd formula, with Tech giving ground freely at midfield but unbeatable in the shadow of its own goal. It was unspectacular but a brutally bruising game.
Pitt put the ball in play 71 times to only 46 for Georgia Tech and rolled up a fearsome statistical advantage: 19 first downs to 10, and 313 net yards gained to 142. But as usual Tech had the vital point advantage when it ended. Dodd's teams have a habit of doing it that way.
January 9, 1956
After the game Coach Johnny Michelosen of Pitt was "pleased" with his team. Bobby Dodd was "proud" of his. It was as it should be.