Season of The Giant Killers - Game 9
November 11, 1967
Game nine of the 1967 Oregon State football season had the Beavers playing host to the Trojans of Southern California.
The Beavers had played spoil-sport to Purdue and UCLA's national championship bids earlier in the year, battling both teams when they were ranked second in the polls. As the Nation's top-ranked team, the Trojans would
pose the greatest challenge of the Beavers' legendary season.
41,494 fans were in attendance for the Veteran's Day showdown. It was the largest crowd ever to watch an athletic
event in the state of Oregon, a logical result considering the Trojans were the first No. 1 ranked football team
ever to play in the state. Despite wet weather in the days leading up to the game, conditions at kickoff
were relatively dry and comfortable.
For the full background on this game, please read the USC
From the beginning, O.J. Simpson lived up to his Heisman-hype. He opened the day with a 22-yard carry and followed
it with an 18-yard gain to the Beaver 20-yard line. As was typical of the Beaver defense, they tightened their
play the closer they came to their own goal line. The three plays that followed netted only two yards, forcing
the Trojans to attempt a 26-yard field goal. The Trojans had experienced kicking problems all season, and the loose
footing brought on by the recent rain did little to aid the Trojan kicker's cause. True to form, the kick was wide right.
The rest of the first quarter was a defensive struggle. Although Simpson had 87 yards on 11 carries in the period,
the gains were inconsistent and the Trojans were unable to put together another scoring threat.
A play that has become part of Beaver lore, defensive tackle Jess Lewis tackles O.J. Simpson from behind.
The start of the second quarter marked perhaps the most famous defensive play in the history of Oregon State football.
O.J. shook off a tackle at his own 37-yard line, bounced to the outside, and found himself with an expanse of
open field and three blockers to lead the way. Safety Mark Waletich was the only Beaver who seemed to have a chance
to bring him down, but with three Trojan blockers to contend with, the odds were not in his favor. Simpson slowed
to set up these blockers, not realizing that Beaver defensive tackle Jess Lewis was coming up fast. Never giving
up on the play, Lewis quickly closed the gap and made a touchdown saving tackle at the Beaver 32-yard line - over 30 yards downfield from the line of scrimmage.
"When I caught O.J., basically (Ron Yary) just let me go. (Yary) blocked down and I just ran around, and
I just happened to get the right angle on O.J. and kept after him and kept after the play. He'd been slowed up
by some of the defensive backs and the linebackers a little bit anyhow. There would have been no way I would have
caught him if he hadn't been slowed up." - Jess Lewis, remembering the tackle.
Three plays later, the Beavers had forced the Trojans into fourth and two on the Beaver 24-yard line. Coach McKay
elected to go for it, calling for a quarterback keeper. The Beavers' right tackle, Ron Boley, stuffed USC quarterback
Steve Sogge for no gain, keeping the shutout alive.
Later in the quarter, Sogge (appropriate name considering the weather) had run for an apparent first down at the
USC 47-yard line. However, an unidentified Beaver came in and knocked the ball free. The ball slid five yards
to the left where linebacker Skip Vanderbundt recovered it.
The Beaver offense, with momentum firmly in hand, came charging out on the field. Fullback Bill "Earthquake"
Enyart punished the Trojan defense with a nine-yard rumble over tackle. Speedy halfback Billy Main followed suit
with an eight-yard gainer for a first down. Then it was Enyart for four-yards, quarterback Steve Preece for two
more, and Enyart again for four-yards and the first down at the USC 20. Enyart, who was every bit as impressive as Simpson, had two more carries of four yards
each, followed by a one-yard counter by Main that put the ball directly in front of the goalposts.
With 5:02 remaining in the half, Mike Haggard came on for the 30-yard field goal attempt. The kick was good, providing
the first score of the day and a 3-0 lead for the Beavers.
"We weren't sure whether (the score) was going to hold up. We were just going to keep trying as hard as
we could and see if we could make this thing hold." - Jess Lewis
The Beaver offense took over again after the defense forced another three-and-out. The Beavers started the drive
on their own 40-yard line with only 2:56 left before the half. After a first down on the Trojan 44, Preece's backup
Bob Mayes came in as a halfback and carried the ball 25-yards on a reverse. Unfortunately, the Beavers were unable
to capitalize, as Haggard's 28-yard field goal attempt sailed right of the mark. The half ended with the Beavers
up 3-0 over the Trojans.
Early in the third period, the Beavers appeared primed for another scoring opportunity when Enyart blasted over
left tackle, running over one USC defensive back and sidestepping another. Enyart had nothing but grass and the
goal line in front of him, but there were a number of Trojans in close pursuit. A leaping Trojan stripped the
football at the USC 19-yard line, and USC team captain Adrian Young made the recovery.
As the game wore on, each team's defense only became stronger, harassing and disrupting the opponent with ever-greater
regularity. Early in the fourth quarter, the Trojans were facing third and two at their own 23. Boley, a greater
bane to Sogge's performance than the inclement weather, broke through the line and dropped the Trojan quarterback
for a loss.
"You could feel the excitement build as we were getting closer and closer to the end. You almost felt
like you were getting stronger. We wanted these Southern California boys really bad. There were a lot of things
at stake. We'd had a lot of support from the fans and the community. They were really pulling for us. We were
playing for them too." - Jess Lewis
Later in the quarter, the Trojans had their best scoring opportunity of the half when they crossed into Beaver
territory. The Trojans faced a third and one at the OSU 42-yard line, but again Boley blasted into the backfield.
This time he dropped the muddied and bloodied quarterback for a two-yard loss.
The biggest gain of the game came on a punt return by the Beavers' Charlie Olds. Receiving the punt at his own
nine-yard line, Olds flew downfield, streaking 56-yards along the sideline to the Trojan 35 before getting hit
and losing control of the football. Olds managed to keep his footing, but knew he stood little chance of recovering
the football. So, he did what he thought was the next best thing and slapped the ball out of bounds. Unfortunately,
the move resulted in a personal foul and automatic change of possession. It mattered little, as the Trojans were
unable to generate a first down on the drive.
As evidence of the Beaver's defensive dominance, especially during the last three-quarters, USC made only three
first downs in the final 44 minutes of play. Only twice during this span did they manage to cross midfield. A
significant contributor to the Trojans difficulties on offense was Gary Houser's punting. The Trojans' starting
field positions were their own 31, 19, 19, 20, 25, 35, 24, and 20-yard lines.
The final results, in all their glory.
As a final blow to his superstar ego, Simpson fumbled away his last carry of the game. Fittingly, it was Lewis
who recovered the loose football. With three minutes left to play, the Beavers were so pumped that they managed
their only first downs of the second half. It was enough to run out the clock, and as the final whistle blew,
fans stormed the field to congratulate the team and celebrate their tremendous victory.
For several more photos from this game, please review our Photo Gallery
Who's No. 1 Now?:
After being carried off the field on the shoulders of his players, Coach Dee Andros found himself in the locker
rooms following the most thrilling victory of his career. The players and coaches overflowed with emotion and
excitement, and bounced off the walls and each other with euphoric abandon.
Coach Andros found a sturdy box, pulled it over, climbed on top, and signaled his team for silence. The cheers
and laughter died down, until everyone's eyes were fixed on 'The Great Pumpkin'. Without a word, and with the
glint of a tear in his eye, the beloved coach lifted one hand and pointed his index finger to the sky.
"Who's No. 1 now?" he roared.
The response was deafening, as the entire team and the rest of the coaching staff responded with upraised index
fingers and cheers of approval.
Coach Andros, still standing atop the box, again called for silence. With tears clouding the eyes of many of those
in attendance, Coach Andros called out, "I told you fellows before the game that you are the greatest bunch
of kids who ever lived. And I still believe it!"
Post-Game comments, 1967:
"We performed well for most of the game. They just performed better. I don't know who will be No. 1 next
week, but it won't be us." - USC Coach John McKay. Despite his forecast, USC would still go on to win
the national championship.
"He's the best that we've faced. But, he can have the Heisman Trophy. We'll settle for the win."
- OSU defensive tackle Ron Boley on O.J. Simpson
"How did this one feel in comparison with Purdue? Exactly twice as good. No. 1 is that much better than
No. 2." - OSU linebacker Skip Vanderbundt
"When I made it I never figured that it would be enough for us to win. No, it wasn't right up the middle.
It stayed inside the right post by about two feet. That's far enough inside though." - OSU kicker Mike
Haggard regarding his game winning field goal.
"There is no brilliant strategy involved in a game like this. This was just a bunch of guys who wanted
something so badly that they wouldn't be put off." - OSU Head Coach Dee Andros
Reminiscing in 2002:
"By that time (game nine), I honestly believe there wasn't a team in the country who could have beat us."
- Coach Dee Andros
"Listening to the reports on the game, they would have had you believe it was a hopeless quagmire that
we played in - which was not true. It did not rain during the ballgame. The field was wet, but by the same token,
it didn't prevent O.J. from running for 190 yards." - Defensive Ends and Linebackers Coach Ed Knecht
"Once the final whistle blew, the whole town just went completely nuts. It was so much fun that even though
we were tired, the juices just kept flowing. It was unreal that we could hold them scoreless. This little dinky
town of Corvallis had taken on the big boys down there from Southern Cal. We were just ecstatic. It's hard to
describe the feeling. We were happy for the people too. A lot of folks worked really hard to get us where we
were." - Defensive tackle Jess Lewis
Lewis on Ron Yary - "He blew me out of there a lot. I had my hands full. He was working me over pretty
good. Once in a while I'd sneak around or run around when he would just let me go. I tell you, I was black and
blue after that day. It wasn't like he'd drive people into the ground, but he'd blow you off the line and he'd
also position that big body in the way and you really couldn't do too much. He was sure good."
Lewis on Simpson - "It wasn't that he had blazing speed, but it was deceptive. It was like he was just
gliding. If you went in there to tackle him at a certain spot, you'd just get nothing but air. He would just
glide… or drift… or dart out of the way. He had the kind of speed that he could just turn it on in an instant,
but it looked like he wasn't running that hard."
The Field Conditions
To hear the Trojans talk, one would think the game was played in monsoon conditions. Photos and game film make
it clear that the field conditions weren't as bad as the Trojans wanted the media to believe. The Beavers likely
benefited from a decision by the OSU coaches to have the players switch to longer cleats at halftime; an advantage
the Men of Troy may not have enjoyed. The consensus among the OSU players and coaches was that the field was loose,
but not any worse than many other fields they had been played on in their careers. Weather data from the Oregon
Climate Service supports their claim, as rainfall and temperatures for the game were not unusual for the Willamette
Valley in November.
Wednesday, November 8th - 0.06 inches of precipitation
Thursday, November 9th - 0.39 inches of precipitation
Friday, November 10th - 0.17 inches of precipitation
Game Day - 0.21 inches of precipitation, High Temp: 57F
Before the game, Oregon Governor Tom McCall and California Governor Ronald Reagan had made a wager as to the outcome
of the game. Should the Trojans win, Reagan would owe McCall a box of California oranges. Should the Beavers
win, McCall would owe Reagan a freshly caught Oregon silver salmon.
Interstate relations remained pleasant during most of the game. However, by the fourth quarter the tension had
begun to mount as Governor McCall, cowboy hat in hand, leapt to his feet to cheer on the home team. Governor Reagan,
on the other hand, became more quiet and grim, alternating between folding his arms and gripping his program or
the rail in front of their box. History does not record whether the debt of oranges was ever paid.
Next Up: Week 10 - The Civil War