August 30, 2014

1945: Hutson TD on Interception Caps Win for Packers Over College All-Stars

The 12th College All-Star Game on August 30, 1945 featured the Green Bay Packers, NFL Champions of the previous year, against an All-Star team coached by Bernie Bierman of Minnesota. The Packers, appearing in the annual contest for the third time, were coached by Curly Lambeau and featured end Don Hutson (pictured above), the NFL’s top receiver and scorer, who would also prove his value as a defensive back.

Bernie Bierman was head coach of the All-Stars for the second time, having been coach when the collegians tied the Detroit Lions in 1936. The roster featured future pro stars such as halfbacks Charlie Trippi of Georgia (pictured below) and Tom Harmon of Michigan, tackles Bill Willis from Ohio State and Purdue’s Dick Barwegan, who had all appeared in prior All-Star Games due to the liberalized wartime eligibility rules that allowed underclassmen to play.

There were 92,753 fans in attendance at Soldier Field on a very hot night, most of them rooting for the collegians, but the All-Stars were rarely able to dent the Packers, and were hurt by turnovers when they did. Green Bay took the opening kickoff and, with tailback Irv Comp passing effectively, the Packers drove to the All-Star 12 yard line and Don Hutson kicked a 20-yard field goal.

A quick kick by Charlie Trippi pinned the pro champs back and gave the All-Stars good field position on the ensuing punt, but C/LB Charley Brock intercepted a pass on his eight yard line and returned it 25 yards.

The Packers reached the All-Star 20 on the first play of the second quarter thanks to a run by FB Don Perkins, but a pass into the end zone was intercepted by Washington State FB/DB Bob Kennedy. However, after crossing the goal line, he retreated back into the end zone and was tackled for a safety. Instead of giving the ball up on a turnover, Green Bay was ahead by an extended margin of 5-0.

Following a fumble by Texas Tech FB Walter Schlinkman that was recovered by tackle Buford “Baby” Ray, the Packers struck quickly on a 20-yard touchdown pass from tailback Tex McKay to HB Herman Rohrig. Hutson added the point after to lengthen Green Bay’s lead to 12-0.

The All-Stars responded by moving well on offense and scoring on a pass from Kennedy to St. Joseph end Nick Scollard that covered 63 yards, with the receiver evading one defender and going the last 20 yards unmolested. Tom Harmon kicked the extra point and the tally remained 12-7 at the half.

The All-Stars got a break in the third quarter when Comp fumbled when hit by Bill Willis and G Damon Tassos of Texas A & M recovered at the Green Bay 34. The All-Stars, however, once again came up empty.

The Packers passed their way to midfield but a long throw by HB Lou Brock was picked off by Trippi at the eight, and he returned it to the 34. Any momentum shift ended when Harmon, caught from behind by Hutson and end Clyde Goodnight after breaking away for a 46-yard gain, fumbled and Brock recovered for the defending champs. However, the All-Stars got the ball back on the last play of the period when Indiana tackle Ed Bell recovered a fumble by HB Joe Laws at the Green Bay 31.

It looked like trouble for the Packers until Hutson intercepted a pass by HB Perry Moss from Tulsa on his own 15 and returned it 85 yards for a game-breaking touchdown. For good measure, Hutson also kicked the extra point.

The All-Stars threatened once more when Trippi intercepted a pass, returning it to the Green Bay two before being knocked out of bounds, and out of the game, by Laws. After the collegians were flagged for being offside, Ohio State QB Les Horvath fumbled and end Harry Jacunski recovered for the Packers at the 17 to end the threat. The final score was 19-7 for the Packers.

The All-Stars had more yards through the air (162 to 95) while the Packers outgained the collegians on the ground (132 yards to 68). Green Bay had the edge in first downs (15 to 12). Don Hutson accounted for 11 points on a touchdown, field goal, and two extra points.

The win for Green Bay put the NFL ahead of the collegians in the series by seven to three, with two ties. The Packers went on to post a 6-4 record in the regular season, finishing third in the Western Division. Don Hutson, in his final year, led the NFL in pass receptions for the eighth time with 47 catches and scored 97 points, which ranked second in the league.

Charlie Trippi, the MVP for the All-Stars, went on to a nine-year career with the Chicago Cardinals that resulted in his being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He would go on to appear in one more College All-Star Game, this time as a member of the Cards in 1948.