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Bowl heroes enjoy the season's last hurrahs

As college football bowed out in holiday splendor, athletes named Grabbo and Gator and such won the nation's applause by emerging as the stars of their teams' triumphs

Texas' cool destruction of Navy held the first place among the major holiday bowl games (see page 16), but there was a great deal more to be seen—by 319,143 spectators in seven other bowls and scores of millions more on television. Above all, there were stars, the Duke Carlisles who rose to the occasion and led their companions to victory.

•SUGAR BOWL. The most heartwarming bowl story really began a few years ago when a Georgia kid named Tim Davis shattered his right knee in a high school football game. At home to cheer him up was his daddy, Alvin (Pig) Davis, who happened also to be his coach. Coach Davis told Tim that now he never could become the great quarterback he dreamed of being but he could at least be a kicking specialist. Tim listened, exercised the knee incessantly, signed on at Alabama, where Pig Davis had been a good fullback, and kicked the Crimson Tide's field-goal records off the books.

In New Orleans he set new records, too, getting all the Tide's points in a 12-7 upset of Mississippi by connecting from 31, 46, 22 and 48 yards. The game had other remarkable features: a field surrounded by snow and epidemic fumbling by Ole Miss—six of 11 bobbles were recovered by Alabama. But the day was Tim's as he kicked with perfect, prolike polish.

Small as football players go (6 feet, 170 pounds), the 22-year-old Davis is a good premedical student and one of Alabama's best-liked and most modest men. Coach Bear Bryant playfully cuffed him after the game and suggested he could have made a fifth goal—a 50-yarder. "I ought to crack your knobby head, you rascal. You took your eye off the ball," said lovable Bear. "God bless us, every one," said Tiny Tim, approximately.

•BLUEBONNET BOWL. Probably the best mind and the homeliest features to be found among the holiday footballers belonged to Don Trull, Baylor's passing wizard in the game at Houston. As a math major with A-minus grades, he has earned one of the NCAA's eight Earl Blaik scholarships for athletic eggheads. As an individual with a Martha Raye mouth that seems to be stuffed with an unusually generous number of teeth, he has been given the nickname "Gator."

In Houston, Trull hit 26 of 37 passes for no less than 255 yards but did not display his sharpest teeth until the last quarter. Then he completed the two touchdown passes that defeated Louisiana State 14-7. It required only a few ergs of Trull's brainpower to discern that LSU was double-and triple-teaming his favorite receiver, Lawrence Elkins. Intelligently, Trull concentrated instead on Split End James Ingram, who caught 11 passes for 163 yards. A mannerly, married young man of 22, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Trull says "Yes, sir" and "No, sir" even to cub reporters. Mostly he says "No, sir." So extraordinary was his national reputation that newsmen puffed after him all season. They found him poised but curt. Before a midseason game Trull addressed his teammates: "I've been getting all the publicity, and I wouldn't be human if I didn't like it. But I want you to know that anything written about me is a tribute to you."

•ROSE BOWL. In Pasadena the hero was 212 pounds of unalloyed football player with a resonant football player's name, Jim Grabowski. Slim-waisted but wide and hard everywhere else, Illinois' sophomore fullback came off the "prairies," or vacant lots, of Chicago's North Side. He is that most valuable kind of footballer—one who can hit like a Santa Fe diesel and get three yards when it isn't there. Be as clever and quick as you please, and psyched up to the eyeballs, but the few Grabowskis of this world will murder you.

Before a 96,000-plus crowd that included Dwight D. Eisenhower, Grabbo the Great undid a good, game but undermuscled Washington team, powering for 125 yards on 23 carries and thus outgaining all seven Husky running backs by nine yards. Connoisseurs savored all his runs, but especially one during an 85-yard fourth-quarter scoring drive. With second and six on the Husky 15, Grabowski rammed into right tackle, seemed stopped, suddenly burst through a flock of defenders and slithered off a linebacker and a cornerback before being chopped down at the two. Already hurt by the loss of Quarterback Bill Douglas on its first play series because of a knee injury, Washington simply could not cope with Grabowski and lost 17-7. Grabbo's ability to follow up a straight-ahead charge with a swift, fluid lateral slide is rare in collegians and echoes the style of Green Bay's superb Jim Taylor. "Grabbo has great balance," says an Illinois coach, "and yet he fools tacklers, because they can't believe he has that much power."

"I learned how to run in high school," says Grabbo himself, "and at college how to block—I mean, really throw one. In high school I just kind of ran into people." He'll run into a few more.

•ORANGE BOWL. Nebraska Quarterback Dennis Claridge was once a lad who could not seem to make up his mind. He was fixing to enroll at Nebraska but got homesick on the plane trip to Lincoln and called Mom to come drive him home to Robbinsdale, Minn. Then he enrolled at Minnesota. A few days later he switched back to Nebraska.

But in Miami, Claridge was decisive. He was also in a hurry. With but a minute gone by, he popped through the right side of the line and loped 68 yards for the longest gain anywhere on New Year's Day and the score that beat Auburn then and there. Eschewing trick stuff, he simply clubbed the last Auburn defender with one hand while dangling the ball casually from the other. When the demoralized War Eagles finally pulled themselves together and their own quarterback, Jimmy Sidle, shot off some wonderful second-half running and passing fireworks, it was too late. The Huskers' 13 first-half points sufficed as Auburn managed to get only seven.

There are other positive things about Claridge. He is big (6 feet 3, 222 pounds), good-looking, and at age 22 knows that he is going to be a dentist. His eyesight is poor—he wears horn-rimmed glasses on campus and contacts afield—but he has seen enough of Miss Rhoda Stevens of Funk, Neb. to be certain that he will soon marry her. Lincoln's underworld, like many a Nebraska opponent, no doubt hopes it has seen the last of him. Last summer, as a $350-a-month temporary cop, he helped nab two burglars in their getaway car.

•SUN BOWL. The El Paso sponsors, eager to inaugurate their dramatic new stadium with flash, but not in a position to command champions, chose well among the also-rans: Oregon (7-3) vs. Southern Methodist (4-6). The 26,500 fans who nearly filled the bowl saw a game in which 62 passes were thrown, the best of them by cocky Bob Berry, the Ducks' junior quarterback. Remember Norm Van Brocklin and George Shaw? They also threw for Oregon. But during the season Berry eclipsed their records, completing 101 passes for 16 touchdowns and a lovely .591 average. "I like to outsmart the opposition," says Berry. "I look on the game as a personal duel between me and the defense."

In the first half in the Texas border town the duel was no contest. Berry passed for two touchdowns and handed off to Dennis Keller for another. In the second half the Mustangs adjusted their defenses well enough to prevent further Oregon scores. However, the 21-14 final score looked a lot closer than it was.

Berry, 21 and a 5-foot-11, 190-pound phys ed major with C-plus marks, learned football from his dad, Bob Sr., coach of the Willow Glen High School in San Jose, Calif. The elder Berry teaches well: Willow Glen won 42 straight games before losing one this year. Bob's brother Ken, another apt pupil, is the San Jose State quarterback and in fact shaped a 13-7 upset of Oregon one Saturday last fall when Bob was out with a knee injury.

•LIBERTY AND GATOR BOWLS. Ode Burrell, Mississippi State's small but driving left halfback, was a handful and more for North Carolina State in Philadelphia (as he was later in Mobile's Senior Bowl game), and Ken Willard, a pro-sized back with North Carolina was a lot more than Air Force ever hopes to see again. They led their teams to 16-12 and 35-0 wins in a Yule season of interesting football.


ALABAMA KICKER Tim Davis boots a 46-yard field goal against Mississippi. Adding others of 31, 22 and 48 yards, he scored all of the Tide's points in 12-7 Sugar Bowl triumph over Ole Miss.


NEBRASKA QUARTERBACK Dennie Claridge stiff-arms the last Auburn defender in his 68-yard touchdown run. This was the big play in the Huskers' 13-7 Orange Bowl win.