Monday, October 31, 2011

Sandy Sanford's Field Goal That Saved the 1937 Season

Sanford in the early 1940s.
Alabama earned a berth in the 1938 Rose Bowl with the foot of Haywood "Sandy" Sanford.

The Crimson Tide's unbeaten record was in danger in the waning minutes of the final contest of the regular season against Vanderbilt. With three minutes left in the game, Alabama trailed the Commodores 6-7.

The Crimson Tide then drove 75-yards down the field but the offense stalled near the goal line as the clock ticked down. Vandy punted to the Bama 33-yard-line. A pair of passes put the ball on the Alabama 17-yard-line where the Commodores defense stiffened. Alabama earned a few yards but nothing more.

On fourth down with the ball on the far hashmark, Alabama called a time out and Sanford replaced Joe Kilgrow as the kicker. The the 200 lb. native of Adona, Arkansas had saved the day two weeks prior coming off the bench to kick a last minute field goal against Tulane to give the Tide a 9-6 vicotry in New Orleans.

With the crowd of 22,000 in Nashville's Dudley Stadium began screaming at the top of their lungs Alabama's center, Jack Machtoff snapped the ball without a signal. With Herky Mosley holding the ball, Sanford booted the 22-yard field goal to ensure the Tide's 9-7 victory over the Commodores.

The victory earned Alabama a perfect regular season record, the SEC crown and, later, an invitation to the 1938 Rose Bowl to face Pacific Coast Champions, California. The Golden Bears would go on to beat The Crimson Tide 13-0 in Alabama's only loss in the New Year's Day classic.