November 17, 2012
A look back: Hall of Fame kickers
Last week's game-winning kick by Paul Griggs was a rarity in Purdue football history. From the research we can find, it was just the third walk-off game-winning field goal in on record and the seventh game-winner that came in the last 60 seconds of a game. Yet, the background story behind Purdue's first two last-minute game-winners are worth being told again.
Hank Stram; vs. Pittsburgh, Oct. 26, 1946
People know Stram for his days with the Kansas City Chiefs as a coach, or maybe his time as a Boilermaker assistant coach who was passed over the head coaching job when Jack Mollenkopf got the gig prior to the 1956 season. But Stram was a fire-hydrant like running back who happened to double as a kicker.
Trailing 8-7 in the Steel City, another former NFL (and college) coaching legend John McKay (USC, Tampa Bay Bucs) recovered a fumble at the Purdue 42 with about two minutes left. Quarterback Bob DeMoss, who had allowed the Panthers to take the lead when he was tackled for a safety, then hit McKay for a critical pass play which positioned Stram for the game-winner.
As the story goes, when Stram entered the huddle for the fateful attempt, holder Johnny Galvin pulled the right shoe off of Stram and started rubbing the kicker's toes as hard as he could. Galvin rubbed so hard he Stram thought a broken bone wasn't out of the question.
As Stram told the story, Galvin just nervously kept saying to Stram over and an again "Hank we gotta make this field goal. We just gotta."
Well Stram hit the 29-yarder as the clock went to zero and the Boilermakers first game-winning kick at the buzzer was history. Galvin's borderline foot fetish had worked.
Bob Griese; vs. Michigan, Oct. 16, 1965
Griese was always a confident guy, except in one area, placekicking. The Evansville, Ind., native was a Hall of Fame quarterback from 1964-66, but he also handled the place kicking duties.
As Griese will admit to this day, he had limited range, and limited accuracy to boot. He missed 10 extra points over a three-year period. Field goal kicking was a far cry from what it is today, so the fact that Griese hit 10 three-pointers during his playing days isn't too shabby, but none were from distance.
So based on those numbers, one could understand why he was a little reluctant when he got the call in the closing minute of the '65 game in Ann Arbor. With the Boilermakers trailing 16-14 in the closing minute and trying to put a last-minute drive together, Griese and the offense failed to convert on a third-down at the UM 21. Griese got word from senior running back (the late) Gordon Teter that the coaching staff wanted him to attempt the field goal. Teter, who would later go on to be CEO of Wendy's International, was so soft spoken, but when he talked people listened. Still Griese didn't think he could make the kick.
"I can't make that kick," Griese reportedly said in the huddle while pondering the distance and stiff wind in his face.
But Teter was persistent. "They (the coaches) want you to make that field goal," Teter told Griese in his typical barely audible tone pleading in the best way he knew how for Griese to simply follow the coaches' orders.
Well Griese did, nailing the 38-yard field and delivering Purdue to an improbable 17-15 win in the Big House. But, then again, Griese made a college career out of close-shave wins at Michigan, becoming the only quarterback in college football history to defeat the Wolverines on their turf in three straight years.
By a total of four points.
For more information on the Boilermaker game-winning kicks, click here.
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