1955 Gator Bowl: A look back

On December 31, 1955, the 7-3 Commodores were matched in the Gator Bowl against Southeastern Conference foe Auburn (8-1-1). VandyMania takes a look back at the Commodores first and only bowl victory.

December 31, 1955
Vanderbilt 25, Auburn 13

Vanderbilt's first bowl game in history remains to this day the school's only bowl win.  On December 31, 1955, the 7-3 Commodores were matched in the Gator Bowl against Southeastern Conference foe Auburn (8-1-1), and Coach Art Guepe's Commodores defeated the Tigers, 25-13.

Vanderbilt scored first after Howell Tubbs' fumble gave Vanderbilt the ball on the Tigers' 39-yard line. Don Orr threw for 7 yards to Joe Stephenson pass early in the second quarter.  Earl Jalufka kicked the extra point, and Vandy led 7-0.  Auburn marched 72 yards next, and Tubbs passed to Fob James (who would one day become governor of Alabama) for 38 yards and a game-tying touchdown.

Vanderbilt responded quickly, going 76 yards in four plays as Orr scored from the 3-yard line.  The extra point was missed, and the Commodores led at the half 13-7.

Another Tubbs fumble, recovered by Vanderbilt's Sonny Tatum at the 45-yard line, set up the first Commodore scoring drive of the second half.  Vanderbilt took eight plays to score.  This time it was Orr faking to fullback Phil King and going over from the one to gave Vanderbilt a 19-7 lead.

After the Tigers were unable to move the ball on the next drive, a poor Auburn punt and a 15-yard penalty gave the Commodores the ball on the Tigers' 26-yard line.  On the first play of the fourth quarter halfback Charley Horton scored off right tackle from the 1-yard line to give Vanderbilt a 25-7 lead.  Auburn finished the scoring with a seven-yard Jimmy Cook to Red Phillips pass at the end of a six-play, 66-yard drive to make the final score 25-13.

Coach Art Guepe cleared his bench in the final minutes, using 38 of the 39 men dressed for the game.  The Commodore reserves moved the ball to the Auburn 8 before time expired.

Vanderbilt kept the ball on the ground, rushing 44 times for 177 yards, and throwing only 8 passes.  The Commodores recovered 5 Auburn fumbles on the way to the win.

The win was Vanderbilt's eighth of the season.  (Since 1955, only once-- 1982-- has Vanderbilt equaled that total of 8 wins.)  Quarterback Don Orr, who was still recovering from a dislocated shoulder suffered 5 weeks earlier in the Tennessee game, was named Vanderbilt's player of the game.

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