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Throwback Thursday: 1954 Ole Miss

The Powder River Pass Play

Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
I've mostly thrown back to games I watched or was at least alive for up until this point, but this game took place the year my father was born.

In 1954, the Undefeated Arkansas Razorbacks played their first Little Rock game of the year against the #5 Undefeated Ole Miss Rebels.  The Ole Miss coach at the time was John Vaught (This would be their Frank Broyles, but with 3 National Championships).

Fresh off of a win over a bad Texas Longhorn team, Arkansas faced their first real test of the season with Ole Miss in War Memorial Stadium. Ole Miss was a high powered team that had won their previous 5 games by an average score of 27 points, while the Hogs were winning much closer games.

The marquee plays for this game came in the 1st and 4th quarter.

In the 1st quarter, Ole Miss had the ball on the Arkansas 14 yard line with a 1st down.  The drive would end on a 4th and two at the Arkansas 6 when Fullback Slick McCool would be stopped short by Bill Fuller for the Razorbacks.

Like the most recent time the Razorbacks shut out the rebels, the Hogs held a pretty good passing quarterback to a very rough day.  Bo Wallace's 2014 line of 16 for 31 and two interceptions seems a little better than Eagle Day's 2 for 11 and two interceptions.

With a strong stop early in the game and a frustrated quarterback, the game rolled along with no score for either team until the 4th quarter.  If this type of game occurred on Saturday in 2016, it would be one of the weirder games ever, but this game wasn't that different than other notable games in the 50's and 60's.  Football was different back then.

So, why is this game significant?  Why is it called the Powder River Game?  The Powder River is a river in Bowden Wyatt's native Wyoming that is about a mile wide, but only a few foot deep.  I think this deception was in Wyatt's head when he named the trick play.

Here's what happened, with the threat of Ole Miss scoring late in the 4th, Bowden Wyatt called up a play for the Razorbacks to score. Buddy Bob Benson would take a direct snap and sprint to his left.  With every Ole Miss defender keyed to his run, Preston Carpenter would slip past the Ole Miss front into the secondary after laying his first block.  Benson would then open his hips up downfield and float a pass about 33 yards to Carpenter who would catch the ball in stride and outrace the Ole Miss defenders for a 66 yard score.

The Hogs would hold on defensively in the 4th quarter to win 6-0 and the Powder River Game was etched into the history books.

Now, Arkansas has had some marquee wins over Ole Miss over the years, and the big one in 1954 had a name just like the big one in 2015.  It would be nice to get another upset win over the Rebels this year without needing a big play name.