When it comes time, we make a big deal about that not-since-the-dawn-of-the-Eisenhower-administration streak against Clemson, the one they finally just had to break last season. But the year it started, 1952, Clemson had a little not-since-the-Roosevelt-administration thing of their own going.
As Austin Phillips recalled in yesterday’s story on Auburn’s Top 5 Games vs. Clemson, “Clemson won three-in-a-row from 1946-48, tied Auburn in 1949, 20-20, and then picked up two more wins in a row from 1950-51 by a combined score of 75-0.” It’d been 10 years since the good Tigers won. It was almost 11.
What broke the streak? Vince Dooley somehow put the ball on the ground.
“We were struggling that year, very much so,” Dooley told me in 2009. Dooley played quarterback on Shug Jordan’s first Auburn teams. He was an assistant coach at Auburn from 1956-63 before becoming the head coach at Georgia.
Against Clemson, the score was 0-0 with less than two minutes left in the second-to-last game of Shug’s second season on The Plains. A tie probably would have been a win. Auburn returned an interception to the Clemson 25. Three plays later, they were still at the 25. Shug ordered a field goal. Dooley was the holder.
“All I remember from that year is that that was absolutely the worst snap that I’ve ever had come back to me as a holder,” Dooley said. “I jumped in the air and brought the ball down and Joe Davis patiently waited and he kicked and we beat Clemson (3-0).”
Seeing as how Auburn’s only other win in 1952 came against mighty Wofford, Dooley’s acrobatic effort was probably the best play of the year, or maybe even years according to Shug. Here’s how the 1953 Glomerata remembers it:
“Vince Dooley, who made a great play on a high snap from center, held the ball and Davis sent it directly between the posts. Dooley’s sensational play was termed by Coach Jordan as “one of the best I’ve seen in football.”
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