August 12, 2012

1955: Weed’s 3 Field Goals Help College All-Stars to Edge Browns

The 22nd College All-Star Game on August 12, 1955 had a different twist than its predecessors in that a group of former pro coaches, led by Head Coach Curly Lambeau, directed the All-Stars rather than the usual college coaches. Lambeau, founder and long-time coach of the Green Bay Packers, had more recently coached the Chicago Cardinals and Washington Redskins. His assistants included Hunk Anderson, a noteworthy line coach with the Bears; Steve Owen, who coached the Giants for 23 years; and Hamp Pool, former head coach of the Rams.

The All-Star roster contained Notre Dame QB Ralph Guglielmi, Heisman Trophy-winning FB Alan “The Horse” Ameche from Wisconsin, and outstanding linemen in OT Jim Ray Smith of Baylor and Notre Dame C Dick Szymanski. But along with Guglielmi and HB L.G. Dupre of Baylor, the key player for the collegians would be diminutive (5’6”, 146 pounds) HB-PK Tad Weed of Ohio State (pictured above).

Representing the NFL were the Cleveland Browns, coached by Paul Brown. The team had dominated the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) before moving to the NFL in 1950, and added a second NFL title in 1954. But QB Otto Graham had retired and the Browns would be starting George Ratterman, the backup quarterback for the previous three seasons, in his place.

There were 75,000 fans present along with a national television audience. Weed started off the scoring in the first quarter with a 31-yard field goal for the All-Stars. The Browns responded with Ratterman sneaking over from a foot out for a touchdown.

The All-Stars came back quickly with a 48-yard kickoff return by Marquette HB Ron Drzewiecki. Dupre had a 19-yard run and the drive was capped when HB Frank Eidom from SMU ran for a three-yard touchdown. Cleveland put together a 10-play, 76-yard series that ended with HB Ray Renfro taking a pitchout and running 18 yards for a TD. The Browns were ahead again by 14-10.

The All-Stars once more drove to another score, highlighted by Dupre’s running. End Henry Hair from Georgia Tech caught a five-yard touchdown pass from Guglielmi and it was the collegians back on top at 17-14. Cleveland roared back as Ratterman threw to end Dante Lavelli for a 42-yard gain and then to Renfro for a 25-yard TD. Lou Groza’s extra point attempt was blocked but the Browns took a 20-17 lead into halftime.

Following the back-and-forth second quarter, there was just one score in the third quarter as Weed booted a 14-yard field goal to tie the game at 20-20. In the final period, Guglielmi passed to Dupre for a 19-yard gain to the Cleveland one that set up a touchdown carry by FB Mel Triplett of Toledo. QB Dave Leggett of Ohio State ran for the extra point and a 27-20 lead for the All-Stars. Weed made it a ten-point game with a 34-yard field goal that would prove to be decisive.

Late in the game the Browns put together an 80-yard scoring drive that concluded with HB Curly Morrison running for a five-yard TD, but time ran out on Cleveland as the All-Stars hung on to win by a score of 30-27.

The All-Stars outrushed the Browns, 200 yards to 163, and had an edge of 329 total yards to Cleveland’s 325. They also had more first downs, 20 to 15.

Ralph Guglielmi (pictured at left) played the full game for the All-Stars and completed 10 of 19 passes for 129 yards and had one picked off. L.G. Dupre rushed for 74 yards on 12 carries and gained another 39 on three pass receptions. Tad Weed kicked three field goals and two extra points.

For the Browns, QB George Ratterman was successful on 9 of 18 throws with two interceptions.

“This is the greatest offensive team I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing with,” said a triumphant Ralph Guglielmi. “Man, I never saw such blocking and tackling.”

“We have a lot to do,” said a disappointed Paul Brown in a quiet Cleveland locker room. “Our defense was poor but I thought George Ratterman did a pretty fair job. They got us. That’s the only thing to say. We were outplayed and soundly defeated. They had a great bunch of running backs and fine coaching, and earned everything they got.”

The Browns continued to struggle in the preseason until Otto Graham was persuaded to come out of retirement. Cleveland went 9-2-1 during the regular season and won another NFL title, after which Graham left for good.

The 30 points were the most for the All-Stars since the start of the series (a record they would exceed three years later). Curly Lambeau coached them for the next two years, but the All-Stars did not win again under his guidance.

Tad Weed played one season in the NFL with the Steelers, connecting on three of six field goal attempts and all 12 of his extra point attempts. Ralph Guglielmi, the first round draft choice of the Washington Redskins, had an undistinguished seven-year pro career. L.G. Dupre was drafted by the Colts in the third round and also played for seven years, contributing to a back-to-back NFL Championship team in Baltimore before finishing up with the fledgling Dallas Cowboys.