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Gophers win Rose Bowl 50 years ago

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Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

WORTHINGTON -- Showcased at the new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, the New Era Pinstripe Bowl Game was played Friday between Rutgers and Iowa State.

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The Scarlet Knights made more big plays and defeated the Cyclones, 28-13.

But, come on -- the Pinstripe Bowl?

Just how many college football bowl games are there as the calendar changes from 2011 to 2012?

Let's go back 50 years ago when 1961 became 1962 and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" by the Tokens was Billboard's No. 1 single, followed by Chubby Checker's "The Twist."

The Green Bay Packers had just claimed their first -- of five during the '60s -- NFL title with a stunning 37-0 triumph over the New York Giants and NASA was preparing John Glenn for his historic three-orbit mission aboard the Friendship 7, which would take place on Feb. 20 and become the third U.S. space flight of the Mercury project.

I was a fifth-grader at the Heron Lake Public School and was playing my first year of organized basketball for Coach Lyle Hornbacher, while my older brother, Dane -- a freshman -- was on Forrest "Butch" Meyeraan's Falcon B-squad.

There were just five schools -- Pipestone, Luverne, Worthington, Windom and Jackson -- in the Southwestern Conference and the big upcoming basketball game in the 10-member Southern Star Conference was being anticipated on Friday night, Jan. 5 at Granada when the undefeated Brewster Bulldogs were coming to town.

January 1st, 1962, was a Monday and there were four college football games played.

That's right, just four. Remember that?

Capping off the 1961 season, Texas defeated Mississippi (Ole Miss) in the Cotton Bowl, 12-7; Louisiana State University (LSU) crushed Colorado, 25-7, in the Orange Bowl and top-ranked Alabama remained No. 1 with a 10-3 victory over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl.

Sandy Stephens leads Minnesota at Pasadena

Meanwhile, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., the No. 6-ranked Minnesota Gophers redeemed themselves from the previous year's 17-7 loss to Washington by churning out 222 yards on the ground and impressively defeating UCLA, 21-3.

Coached by Murray Warmath, the Gophers were co-champions of the Big 10 in 1960 and were named the national champions -- prior to their 1961 Rose Bowl loss to the Washington Huskies, who had obliterated Wisconsin, 44-8, in the Rose Bowl following the 1959 season.

In 1961, Minnesota finished second -- behind Ohio State -- in the Big 10. But when the Buckeyes declined their Rose Bowl bid, the Gophers glady accepted and played for a second consecutive time in Pasadena.

Despite the crooning of recent coach Tim Brewster, it has also been the last time the Gophers played in the Rose Bowl.

Let's look back.

The banner headline on the sports' page of the Tuesday, Jan. 3, 1962 edition of the Daily Globe ran:

"Gopher Power Befuddles, Bruises Bruins, 21-3"

"Sandy Stephens Stages His Finest Grid Performance" read the sub-heading.

Yes, it was quite a day for the Gophers -- who scored 21 unanswered points after UCLA took an early 3-0 lead on a 28-yard field goal by Bobby Smith.

Stephens, a big quarterback at 212 pounds, was an effective option runner. But at Pasadena, Stephens mixed some accurate passing and hard running by backs Judge Dickson, Bill Munsey, Jerry Jones and Jim Cairnes, along with his own running.

Minnesota capitalized early on a fumble recovery -- at the UCLA six-yard line -- by Dickson to score its first touchdown, a one-yard plunge by Stephens on the Gophers' third play after the recovery.

Leading 7-3, Warmath's squad showed its dominance of the line-of-scrimmage on a 16-play, 75-yard scoring drive in the second quarter, capped by Munsey's three-yard cutback run for the second Gopher touchdown.

After controlling field position in the third quarter -- including a six-play, 43-yard drive and an eight-play, 47-yard drive -- Stephens engineered a time-consuming, 19-play, 83-yard touchdown march in the fourth quarter.

Stephens, who rushed 12 times for 46 yards and completed seven of 11 passes for 75 yards, scored the TD on a two-yard scamper.

Dickson gained 45 yards on 12 carries, while Munsey (10 carries, 41 yards), Cairnes (seven, 38) and Jones (nine, 31) also contributed to the well-balanced Gopher rushing attack.

UCLA head coach Bill Barnes summed it up by saying:

"Minnesota didn't surprise us with anything. They simply overpower you. They have a big strong line and can move anybody around."

Among those Gopher linemen were future NFL greats Bobby Bell -- who went on to star with the Kansas City Chiefs -- and Carl Eller, who became an All-Pro defensive end for the Vikings.

Was Tom Brown still playing for the Gophers in '61, or did he graduate after the 1960 season?

Minnesota's defense -- after holding the Bruins to a field goal on their first drive -- stymied UCLA's vaunted single-wing offense, limiting the Big Five Conference champions to a mere 55 yards rushing.

I watched that Rose Bowl game from our farm in Springfield Township (Cottonwood County) -- six miles north of Heron Lake, 11 miles south of Storden and 10 miles west and a mile north of Windom -- but I recall more about the pre-game show than I do about the contest itself.

After all, there were just four bowl games in those days -- and the Rose Bowl was a really big deal, with a detailed preview leading up to the grand event.

It was fun reading the story of that 48th Annual Rose Bowl and finding out how the Gophers really dominated the Bruins in that game half-a-century ago.

Luverne, Harris, St. Adrian, Currie enjoy basketball success

On the last weekend of 1961, prior to the Rose Bowl football game, Luverne had played well in a four-team basketball tournament in St. James.

The Cardinals rolled to a huge 75-47 victory over Big Nine Conference school Owatonna in the opening round, posting quarter leads of 18-9, 38-22 and 59-34.

Lynn Geving (19), Steve Rapp (15) and Wayne Emery (13) each scored in double figures for Luverne, which improved to 6-1 for the season with the win.

St. James claimed a 53-47 victory over Mankato in the other semifinal game and then won its own tournament, edging LHS by two points, 48-46, in the championship game.

Emery and Geving each scored 10 points for Luverne in the finals.

On Wednesday evening, Jan. 3, 1962, Harris (Iowa) hosted Sioux Valley in a cross-the-border boys' basketball game and rolled to an impressive 80-53 victory.

Harris, which earned leads of 17-10, 34-27 and 55-37 at the quarter breaks, had four players notch double figures, led by Dale Barringer's 24-points.

Don Lemker (17), Harlen Vogel (14) and Dale Wingate (10) also hit double digits, while Jim Wiese and Bob Untiedt each scored 13 points for the Warriors.

That first week of January in 1962, the Daily Globe had preview stories about a pair of four-team tournaments to jump start the new year.

Currie was hosting the Little Four Tournament, which featured the four smallest schools -- Lismore, Wilmont, Iona and Currie -- in the Loreto Conference.

In Adrian, St. Adrian Catholic was hosting a four-team tournament with Marshall Central, Bird Island St. Mary's and Southwest Christian of Edgerton as the other competing teams.

On Thursday evening, the 4th, St. Adrian's put eight players in the scoring column and earned a big 24-point win, 59-35, over Bird Island after leading 33-11 at halftime.

Bill Heitkamp (19), Les Homan (12) and Duayne Hohn (10) each scored in double figures for Adrian, which outscored St. Mary's by a 16-2 spread in the decisive second quarter.

Norm Prins and Leon Fey netted 19 and 15 points, respectively, to lead Southwest Christian to a hard-fought, 56-55, win over Marshall Central.

The next night, Friday, Jan. 5, Central easily won the third-place game over Bird Island, 68-37, before Southwest and St. Adrian battled in a classic championship clash.

Once again, it was a sharp second quarter which helped St. Adrian, turning a 15-14 deficit into a 32-23 lead.

Southwest closed the gap to 37-35 by the third quarter's end, but St. Adrian prevailed with a 51-48 victory in the 29th running of the prestigious private school tournament.

Hietkamp (15) and Homan (12) scored double digits for Adrian, while Prins (20) and Larry Van Essen (10) each tallied double figures for Southwest Christian.

Sheteks repeat as Little Four champs with 70-44 title win over Lismore

The same night that St. Adrian and SWC were tangling in Adrian for that tournament's title, the all-Catholic tournament opened at Currie.

Tall Dan Ruppert scored 24 points to lead Currie's Immaculate of St. Mary to a 64-48 Friday night win over Wilmont. Danny Kuhl netted 12 points for Wilmont.

Lismore, the pre-tournament favorite, improved to 6-1 on the season with an impressive 74-51 victory over Iona.

Marv Schissel scored 29 points to pace Lismore, while Harold Balster poured in 24 for Iona.

Then on Sunday afternoon, Kuhl and Balster had a scoring duel in the third-place game, as Wilmont rallied with a strong second half to earn a 63-53 victory over Iona.

Kuhl netted 32 points to lead Wilmont, while Balster -- who finished with 55 points in two games -- scored 31 to pace Iona.

Lismore had defeated Currie in December. But this time the host Sheteks were simply too good, as they defended their 1961 Little Four tournament championship with a convincing 70-44 victory over their rivals to the southwest.

Dan Ruppert scored 14 points in each half, finishing with 10 field goals and eight free throws for a game-high 28 points, giving him 52 for the tournament.

Perne Silvernale (16), Joe Donahue (13) and Doug Ruppert (11) also netted double figures for the Sheteks, who held leads of 17-12, 30-23 and 46-36 at the quarter breaks.

Schissel and Gene Dollander scored 12 and 11 points, respectively, to lead Lismore's balanced scoring.

Four small towns -- each with their own Catholic High School -- finishing up a boys' basketball tournament on a Sunday afternoon in early January of 1962.

McNab, Silver each score 21 as Brewster wins at Granada, 67-63

So what about that big Southern Star clash at Granada?

Well, Brewster -- despite a 33-point scoring performance by Granada's Dewey Zentner, who maintained his edge as the league's leading scorer -- had a hot-shooting third quarter, once opening up a 14-point lead on the Eagles.

Paced by the dual 21-point games of Gary McNab and John Silver, the Bulldogs prevailed, 67-63, to improve to 7-0 on the season.

Terry Everson contributed 13 points for BHS, which held a two-point lead at halftime.

Elsewhere in the Southern Star, East Chain rallied for a 47-43 win at Okabena.

Rich Lozana scored 19 points to lead the Chainers, while Howard Sievert (13), Byron Christoffer (11) and Jerry Schroeder (10) each netted double figures for the Bluehawks.

Playing at Worthington's Memorial Auditorium, Welcome claimed a 78-60 win over Round Lake, as the Eckman brothers -- Erv (31) and Bill (19) -- combined for 50 points to lead the Wildcats.

Bob Geertsema (15), Roger Geertsema (13) and Dave Morrison (13) led the scoring for the Wildcats.

Cardinals defeat Trojans in high-scoring game, 79-71, in Luverne

At Luverne, the Cardinals put four players in double figures and claimed a high-scoring, 79-71, victory.

Ronald Friestad (24), Emery (15), Loren Forrest (14) and Geving (13) all notched double digits for LHS in the evenly-played contest, which was close all the way.

The Cardinals held slim leads of 21-18, 40-36 and 61-52 at the quarter stops.

Vince DeBates paced the Trojans with a game-high 27 points, while Scott Johnson and John Huges added 15 and 10 points, respectively, for Worthington.

In the B-squad game, Luverne sophomore Bill Toms -- who two years later would be a top player for the Cardinals' state championship team -- scored 19 points to lead his team to a 52-46 win over the Trojans.

Tom Wing scored 18 points for the Worthington Bombers, whle Rich Mork and Ron Eshleman each netted 11.

Windom defeated arch-rival Mountain Lake, 63-51, in a non-conference game between the two perennial District 7 powers at Windom.

Dave Palm (21), Ed Maras (16) and Jim Silliman (15) -- Windom's strong front line -- each notched double figures for the Eagles, while Jerry Enns scored 20 points to lead the Lakers.

There again, is a look at some of the high school boys' basketball action that was happening back when the Minnesota Gophers last played in the Rose Bowl football game.

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