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Buffs Prove 'Unbearable' To Tide, 47-33
Colorado All-American tailback Bobby Anderson was the talk of the football world after his record setting Liberty Bowl performance in 1969. In his final game wearing a CU uniform, Anderson rushed for a school record 254 yards leading the Buffaloes to a 47-33 win over Paul "Bear" Bryant's Alabama Crimson Tide.The following was the game story published by the Boulder Daily Camera on December 14, 1969.
By Dan Creedon
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – College football’s Bear will be in hibernation again this winter.
Colorado, smashing more than a dozen Liberty Bowl offense record along the way, drove the Bear – Alabama Coach Paul (Bear) Bryant, into hiding early Saturday afternoon by burying the Crimson Tide 47-33 for one of its most prestigious football victories of all time.
With tailback Bob Anderson bruising the ‘Bama defenders for a school record 254 yards on the ground and scoring three touchdowns in perhaps his greatest performance ever, the Buffs stemmed the Tide in the fourth quarter to pull out the come-from-behind win after squandering an earlier 17-point lead.
The record running show also earned the brilliant Boulder senior, who was playing in his second bowl victory in three years, the Most Valuable Player and Outstanding Back Awards. Both honors were delivered to Anderson at the bowl’s awards banquet early Saturday evening at the Buffs’ Rivermont Inn headquarters. Selection in both categories, as might be expected, was near unanimous.
Sharing Liberty Bowl honors with Anderson and the offensive line that ripped gapping holes in the ‘Bama defense, gaping enough for the Buffs to accumulate a CU high for the year of 473 yards rushing, was the teams’ defensive front four.
With ends Bill Brundige and Herb Orvis and tackle Bill Collins leading a vicious assault, Colorado “sacked” Alabama’s quarterbacking duo of Scott Hunter and Neb Hayden a total of 13 times. With other losses thrown in, the tide ended up losing 73 yards on 15 negative plays.
In this wild year of offense, the 11th edition of the Liberty Bowl, witnessed by a record 50,042 spectators at Memphis Memorial Stadium, was a fitting climax – at least it was for Colorado.
Bryant had said before the bowl the game would give he and his players a chance to redeem themselves for a poor – poor for Alabama – season, and if that can be accomplished in a losing effort it certainly was Saturday.
Down 17-0 at the start of the second quarter ‘Bama charged from behind on the passing of first Hunter and then Hayden to eventually overhaul the Bison 33-31 near the close of the third quarter.
But the fourth quarter, as it has on so many occasions late in this 8-3-0 season for the Big Eight Buffaloes, was to belong to Colorado.
After fumbling away one scoring chance at the ‘Bama 11, Colorado came right back with the 12-play, 52-yard drive which was to mean victory. The winning TD came on an Anderson thrust over right tackle with 10:57 remaining. The second of Anderson’s three scores gave the Buffs a 37-33 lead which quickly became 38-33 on the fifth of Dave Haney’s six perfect conversion kicks.
Alabama had five more possessions, but never came close to scoring. After giving the ball up on punts from its own 30 and five, the Tide was forced to surrender a safety when Orvis smothered Hayden in the end zone, pushing the CU lead to 40-33.
The Tide’s last gasp resulted in three long losses, from its own 35 to the 11 and CU, taking over on downs, pushed across from there with Anderson doing all the damage on three rushes, each of which was preceded by a time-out call by quarterback Jim Bratten, who was intent on running up the score, “Andy” circled left end from three yards out for his final TD with just 45 seconds remaining.
While CU’s following of some 2,000 counted off the final seconds Alabama penetrated to the Buff 44 before the final horn whined. Then it was jingle-jangle time, as the CU players ran their popular post-game exercises for the 11th and final time of 1969.
Although CU fans had to hold their breath down the stretch this was one of the Buffs’ most overwhelming victories statistically with the final yardage count showing Colorado on top 563-367.
Earlier in the week
Anderson among others, had suggested he would be disappointed if Colorado
couldn’t run on Alabama, something Missouri
did so well a year ago in dealing the Tide a similar bowl defeat 35-10.
Anderson wasn’t disappointed Saturday as the Buffs averaged nearly
7.7 yards per rushing play in stopping ‘Bama.
Also looming large in the CU victory was a 91-yard kickoff return to a touchdown by Steve Engel which of course doesn’t count in the official rushing figures. Engel’s return was almost a carbon copy of the play on which Colorado opened its 17-14 victory over Oklahoma State with a 99-yard Engle return.
This one also featured a reverse handoff with Bob Masten who fumbled the bouncing kickoff at the nine, handing off to the speeding Engel. From there it was all Engel as the 212-pound senior traveled across to the east side and past the CU bench on the sensational return. Blocks by Bill Kralicek, Scott Mahoney and finally Masten sprung Engel on the return to enable the Buffs to go into the half-time intermission with a 31-19 edge.
Alabama came out with a new quarterback – Hayden replacing the injured Hunter (knee) but there was no letup in the effectiveness of its pass-oriented game. On the fifth play of the second half, Hayden, a bit more nimble than Hunter, unloaded a 55-yard scoring aerial to Griff Langston which cut CU’s edge to 31-25. Oran Buck’s conversion kick made it 31-26 with just 1:21 played in the third quarter.
Colorado generated only one first down on its next possession and punted the ball back to the Tide. Starting from its own 13, Alabama stormed 87 yards in 14 plays to take the lead.
Along the route Hayden hit on four of six passes with a 10-yard shot to sophomore tailback sensation Johnny Musso getting the touchdown in the flat with 7:47 left in the quarter. Buck’s kick boomed through for what was to be Alabama’s 33rd and final point.
Colorado’s comeback kids took up the challenge immediately and needed only seven plays, all of the ground variety, to streak from their own 23 to the ‘Bama 11. Included in the quick march was a 43 yard run by Marv Whitaker on an end around but on third and one at the Tide 11 Engel fumbled a low handoff from Bratten and Alabama roverback Danny Gilbert fell on the ball at the 11.
The Tide managed one first down – on a fourth down sucker shift which lured Collins offside – but had to give up the ball from its 20 on a punt.
Pat Murphy made a fair catch of the kick at the CU 48 and in came the offense. Anderson made first down yardage three times on the decisive drive, including once on a fourth and and one situation from the Alabama 20. After that play an offside call on Dennis Havig set CU back five yards but Anderson quickly made up the lost yardage with a 10-yard shot through the middle to the 12. He then swept to the left side for 10 more yards with a pitchout before going in for the score.
In the closing 10 minutes Colorado muffed three scoring opportunities before putting the game out of reach with Orvis’ safety and Anderson’s late touchdown. An interception of a Bratten pass, intended for Monte Huber at the five, by Gilbert and a fumble recovery by Ken James of a Bratten bobble at the 17 stalled two of the three CU threats. A dropped pass by tight end Mike Pruett, one of the games blocking stars for the Buffs, on a daring fourth down pass by Dick Robert thwarted the other CU attempt at the ‘Bama 35. Robert had dropped back to punt on the play before astounding the huge crowd with a run which eventually would end up as a pass as ‘Bama defenders closed in.
Colorado established its ground-oriented attack early with the triple option series power sweeps by both Anderson and Bratten and the halfback option pass by Anderson as the key elements.
Colorado won the toss, elected to receive and then pushed 70 yards in eight plays to a 7-0 lead with Anderson’s 15-yard sweep around the left side the big play before fullback Ward Walsh darted 13 yards over left tackle for the score on the first option of the triple-option series. Alabama played Bratten and Anderson wide on the play, and Walsh, receiving a good block from Pruett didn’t run across a potential tackler until he pushed safety Bill Blair the final two yards into the end zone. Only 3:24 had elapsed when Walsh scored.
The Buffs’ third possession featured a 48-yard run by Anderson, a run on which the 208-pound bruiser simply ran over Tide halfback Mike Dean at the Alabama 35. The drive climaxed with Haney booting a 30-yard field goal from the right hash mark to up CUs lead 10-0.
It went to 17-0 early in the second quarter as Anderson climaxed an 8-play, 80-yard drive with a 4-yard scoring run after taking a Bratten pitchout. Anderson had a 31-yard run called back by a motion penalty on fullback Walsh, but Bratten, passing 25 yards to Masten and nimbly darting 27 yards on a keeper over left tackle, more than made up for the penalty.
Then it was Hunter’s turn to go to work. Aided greatly by three pass interference calls on the Buffs, the junior passing whiz sent the Tide on 84 and 63-yard scoring drives. He mixed in some nifty draw play runs by Musso (107 yards in 23 carries) with his own passing.
And the first score came on a 31-yard run by Hunter who seldom carries the ball. He spotted CU middle linebacker Phil Irwin outside covering a second man in the slot and smartly checked off and carried up the middle. He didn’t near a CU tackler until reaching the 15 and then it was Pete Jacobsen who slipped and fell to make the remainder of Hunter’s journey easy. That was with 10:13 let in the half.
George Ranager climaxed Alabama’s second TD thrust with a 6-yard run 4:49 before the half. ‘Bama went for a 2-pointer but a Hunter pass fell incomplete leaving CU with a 17-13 edge.
Colorado responded with a 61-yard march of its own to go ahead 24-13 with Walsh scoring again on the opener of the triple option, this time from the 15. Just ahead of Engel’s long kick-off return Alabama stretched out another penalty-aided drive to close within five points at 24-19. The score came on a short 2-yard plunge by Musso after Cooch had been whistled for interference at that point for holding Ranager.
Colorado players won three individual Liberty Bowl awards Saturday: Anderson was the top player and top offensive back, and Brundige was top defensive lineman. Alabama’s Alvin Samples was top offensive lineman and Steve Williams was top defensive back.
Crowder also was awarded one of the three game balls.
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