Cavazos leads Red Raiders to Gator Bowl victory
1954 GATOR BOWL, JACKSONVILLE, Jan. 1 - The magnificent men of Texas Tech shook off a bad case of first-quarter bowl jitters then stormed back to demoralize a fine Auburn eleven with a brilliant and explosive four-touchdown second half to take an impressive 35 to 13 victory over the Plainsmen in the ninth annual Gator Bowl here this bright, sunny afternoon.
Bobby Cavazos, the Red Raiders' All-American halfback, won the award for the winning team's outstanding player with a scintillating performance before 32,000 fans.
The victory, which gained the rambling Techsans nationwide recognition, was a team triumph, but the flashy Kingsville senior led the way, romping for 141 yards on 13 carries, scoring three touchdowns, saving another with a desperation tackle and generally playing the type of defensive game that is expected of All-Americans.
Capt. Vic Spooner scored another of Tech's five touchdowns when he fell on a fumble by Don Lewis in the end zone and Paul Erwin took a beautifully executed 53-yard pass from Jack Kirkpatrick for the other.
Actually, it was this pass, immediately following a 48-yard touchdown pass play by the same two men which was nullified by a penalty early in the third quarter that shot Tech into a 21 to 13 lead and set the fuse that sealed Auburn's doom. Auburn had held a 13 to 7 halftime lead.
The total of 32,000 persons who saw the game was one of the largest crowds ever to see a Gator Bowl classic. So completely did the Tigers dominate the first half that Tech was held to three first downs and that lone tally.
The Raiders dominated second half play as completely as Auburn had dominated the first half. Actually, Tech scored four touchdowns in seven minutes and 16 seconds of playing time in the second half.
The Raiders took the second half kickoff and marched straight down the field, moving 68 yards on six plays. An offside penalty nullified a spectacular touchdown pass from Kirkpatrick to Erwin, who took the ball, faked the defense off balance and went over without anyone being near him.
When the play was called back Kirkpatrick calmly called for a similar pass and Erwin took the 28-yard heave on the 25 and again ambled over without an Auburn defender being near him.
That was with 2:44 on the clock. Less than four minutes later, at 6:05, Spooner blocked a punt by James and Tech took over on the Auburn 15. This might have been the turning point, for the Raiders punched across in three plays, with Cavazos scoring his second touchdown.
Auburn was far from whipped. The Plainsmen drove to the Tech 17, where two plays failed and a backfield in motion penalty offset a touchdown run. A fine 32-yard run by Janes midway through the quarter was wasted when the drive bogged down. But just before the period ended, Jerry Johnson got Tech set up for the fourth touchdown. He carried a punt by Johnny Adams back 38 yards, almost going all the way. A 15-yard penalty against Auburn moved the ball to the 17 and the Raiders were on the 10 as the quarter ended.
Cavazos picked up six on the first play in the final quarter and Lewis went to the goal on the next play. Here he fumbled and alert Spooner fell on the ball.
That was it, except for a typical touchdown run by Cavazos, who broke over Jerry Walker's tackle, cut to his left and outraced the Auburn defenders for 59 yards.