A Look Back.....1953

DeWitt Weaver was back for his 3rd season as head coach of the Red Raiders. Coming off a disappointing 3-7 season in 1952, most everyone expected Texas Tech to field an improved team. No one could have predicted just how good the Red Raiders turned out.

The season started off with a resounding defeat of West Texas St (40-14), in which the opening kickoff of the season was taken 100 yards by the QB, Jack Kirkpatrick. On the schedule for game two was a road trip to El Paso to face Texas Western, now known as University of Texas - El Paso. Texas Tech took the lead with a 3 yd touchdown run by Skeeter Lewis. Following a fumble recovered by the injured Jimmy Williams, Jim Sides scored from 14 yards out to take a 13-0 lead. After the half, Texas Tech continued to pile the points on. JoJo Bryan took the ball across the goal line from the 1 yd line, and Skeeter Lewis added his 2nd touchdown of the night one a 59 yard scamper around the left end. The Red Raiders were coming together as a team, and were looking poised for an excellent season.

The season continued on with victories against Oklahoma St (27-13), College of Pacific (34-7), New Mexico A&M (71-0), Mississippi St. (27-20), Arizona (52-27), Tulsa (49-7), Houston (41-21), and Hardin Simmons (46-12). The sole loss of the season came in week 4 against Texas A&M to the score of 27-14. Bill "Pistol Pete" Huddleston was a thorn in the Red Raider's side all day.

Tech finished the regular season with a mark of 10-1, but there was controversy to come. The Cotton Bowl would be taking the Aggies. Most people in Lubbock started to prepare for the Sugar Bowl, but officials broke their word to hold naming teams for their bowl until after the weekend games. Word slipped that West Virginia and Georgia would be playing in the Sugar Bowl, and the Raiders were left in the cold. Tech went on to dominate Hardin Simmons that weekend and showed the bowl officials they had made a mistake. Now that the Cotton and Sugar Bowls were out of the question, Tech looked for another high profile bowl to call. It didn't take long as Gator Bowl officials called the next day with an invitation to play Auburn in Jacksonville, FL. Weaver gladly accepted.

Tech entered the Gator Bowl cautiously optimistic, as Auburn was led by QB Vince Dooley and three strong RBs, Fob James, Charlie Hataway, and Bobby Duke. But the Gator Bowl would soon be the stage for All American, Bobby Cavazos and his Texas Tech Red Raiders. On that New Years Day, Cavazos rolled up 3 TDs and helped the offense gain 371 total yards on his way to being named Offensive MVP. Tech rolled up the Auburn Tigers to the tune of 34-13 and secured a final season tally of 11-1. This great season also won DeWitt Weaver the keys to a brand new Cadillac that was presented by former Tech great, Elmer Tarbox.

Another great moment in Tech history occurred that New Years Day. Joe Kirk Fulton was called into DeWitt Weaver office. Weaver laid out a plan to get Tech a national symbol for their team and fans. Joe Kirk thought it was a great idea and got to work. He prepared for the game in Jacksonville. He had decided on black Levi's, red shirt, black cape, and black hat. He rode a horse that was owned by a member of a Lubbock Sheriff's Posse and shipped by train the Jacksonville. The Masked Rider had been born.

Fulton rode for 2 years, one on his own horse, Pretty Day, and the other furnished by Tech, named Blackie. The tradition had begun and continues to this day. The first female rider was appointed in 1974, when Ann Lynch was selected. The appointment of a female caused groans and mumbles to come from the Tech campus and Lubbock community. There are some great and not-so-great moments in Masked Rider history. The lowest point was when some Texas A&M students kidnapped the horse, Charcoal Cody on October 4, 1963. For two hours, the horse was missing, but was found 3 miles south of Idalou. On his side was spray painted "AMC" in aluminum paint. The horse also had rope burns and scratches. The aluminum paint made the horse deathly ill. The Masked Rider will always be there to fire up the crowd and lead the troops onto the field of battle. It has become a nationally recognized symbol for Tech football.

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