From the Golden Football Archives
January 1, 1942: Rose Bowl, Durham NC – We Will Have Our Rose Bowl Trip!
Oregon State College, picked to finish near the bottom of the 10-team Pacific Coast Conference for the 1941 season, surprised the pundits by winning the PCC champion­ship.
  • After a 2-2 start, the Beavers won their final five games to earn their first ever trip to the Rose Bowl.
  • As was the custom at the time, the PCC champion picked its opponent for the game in Pasadena.
  • Since 8-0 Minnesota, #1 in all the polls, was prohibited from playing in a bowl game by Western Conference (Big Ten) rules, Oregon State's AD, Percy Locey, settled on Duke, champions of the Southern Conference and #2 in many rank­ings.
  • Blue Devil Coach Wallace Wade readily accepted. Not only did he want to reward his players for an undefeated season but was itching to remove the bad taste from Duke's last trip to Pasadena for the 1939 game.
  • Unscored on all season, the "Iron Dukes" lost 7-3 in the last minute to USC. The game had been Wade's first Rose Bowl loss after taking Alabama teams to two wins and a tie.
Both schools launched into travel preparations for their teams and supporters.
  • For only $181.81, Duke fans received a round trip ticket with Pullman accommo­dations, hotel room, admission to the game, and even a side trip to the Grand Canyon.
  • However, an event halfway around the world changed everyone's plans. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7 launched the U.S. into World War II.
Within a week, Lieutenant General John DeWitt ordered the cancellation of all major sporting events on the West Coast, including the Rose Bowl.
  • He feared that a packed stadium would present too tempting a target for Japa­nese planes.
  • As a result, Oregon State coach Lon Stiner dismissed his players. Some left for what might be their last holiday season at home before enlistment while others made plans to join the war effort.
  • However, AD Locey began searching for another site for the game. After consi­dering Soldier Field (a suggestion of Chicago sportswriter Arch Ward who had created baseball's All-Star Game and the annual game between the College All Stars and the NFL champions) and listening to offers from Atlanta, Oklahoma City, and Spokane, Locey asked Duke to host the game on its campus.
  • Faced with not playing the game at all, Wade agreed to stage the game in Durham.
  • His players, however, were not happy. They were willing to give up their Christ­mas holidays for a trip to sunny California but were reluctant to do so for a game in their own stadium.
  • Wade placated them by granting some days off to visit home.

Coach Wallace Wade
Wallace Wade

 

1942 Rose Bowl Poster

Now it was the Oregon State fans who sought travel packages.
  • Hundreds booked round-trip tickets for $17.50 (sleeping berths were extra), with sidelines seats an additional $4.50 each.
  • Meanwhile, Duke borrowed bleachers from archrivals North Carolina and North Carolina State to raise seating capacity from 35,000 to 55,000.
  • Within three days of the announcement of the relocation, the game sold out. Scalpers demanded upwards of $15 for a $4.40 ticket.
  • The Beaver Special train left Corvallis December 19 for the 3,417-mile journey across the continent. 31 players and a traveling party of 50 enjoyed the air-conditioned cars.
  • One player was left behind. Reserve DB Jack Yoshihara had come to the U.S. with his mother at age three on the last ship before Japanese immigration was halted. President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order prohibiting Japanese-Americans from traveling more than 35 miles from their homes. At least Jack could listen to NBC's broadcast of the game New Year's Day.
  • The train stopped in Chicago where the team worked out at Stagg Field at the University of Chicago. The team toured the nation's capital and practiced in Griffith Stadium, home of the Washington Redskins.
  • When the entourage rolled into Durham on Christmas Eve, a crowd of 2,000 welcomed them. The next day the team enjoyed a traditional Southern Christmas dinner, one of many events the week before the game. The visitors didn't get a chance to hobnob with Hollywood stars as they would have in California, but they did tour cigarette manufacturing plants.

In the meantime, Wade recruited players for his scout team to emulate Oregon State.

  • George McAfee, who played in the 1939 Rose Bowl and now toiled for the Chicago Bears, impersonated Oregon State's triple-threat left-handed TB Don Durdan.
  • Jasper "Jap" Davis, another Duke grad who was coaching the freshman team, suited up along with Dick Watts, a senior at North Carolina State.
Aerial view of 1942 Rose Bowl
Duke
Stadium during 1942 Rose Bowl
The authorities in Washington gave special permission for the plane to fly overhead.
The January 1 game may have been called the Rose Bowl, but North Carolina was not sunny California.
  • A steady, cold drizzle fell throughout the contest. Some fans lit fires in the stands to keep warm. The new grass Wade installed in the stadium was soggy even before the kickoff.
  • Oddsmakers established the homestanding Blue Devils as 3-1 favorites over the #12 Beavers despite the fact that OSC's line outweighed Duke's by nearly 10 pounds per man.
  • Once again, Stiner's team confounded the prognosticators.
1942 Rose Bowl action 1942 Rose Bowl Action - 5
L: Oregon State tacklers pursue Duke B Tom Davis. R: Duke traps a Beaver.
A moment of silence was observed at 2 p.m. for those lost at Pearl Harbor less than a month earlier.
  • Tom Davis returned OSC's kickoff but fumbled when clobbered, and a Beaver recovered at the 19. However, nothing came of the break.
  • But on Oregon State's next possession, Durdan, whose performance would land him in the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame, scored on a 19y run after finding no receiver open.
  • Pounding the Beavers on the ground, Duke tied the game 7-7 in Q2 when its star RB Steve Lach scored on a reverse from the 4.
  • The Blue Devils nearly scored again right before the half. Sophomore Bobby Rute threw three desperation passes from midfield that fell incomplete. But on fourth down, Bobby Gantt made a brilliant catch but was run out of bounds on the 5 as time ran out.
1942 Rose Bowl Action - 4
Don Durdan sweeps end for Oregon State.
The action picked up in the second half.
  • OSC jumped ahead again on a 31y pass from Bob Dethman to George Zellick.
  • But Duke answered back on a 1y run by Winston Siegfried. The TD was set up by Lach's 37y reverse.
  • Duke's QB Tommy Prothro kicked the tying PAT with two minutes left in Q3.
    Prothro would coach Oregon State to its next Rose Bowl appearance (and first in Pasadena) in 1956.
1942 Rose Bowl Action - 3
Duke fails to block the Oregon State punt.
The 14-14 tie didn't last into the final period.
  • After receiving the kickoff, OSC jumped back in front for good on Dethman's pass in the flat to Gene Gray who took it in 30y downfield and eluded two tacklers into the EZ to complete the 68y TD and set a new record as the longest pass play in Rose Bowl history.
    When Gray returned to Corvallis, he dutifully reported for induction into the Navy only to be rejected because of missing teeth that had been knocked out playing football. But eventually the Army Air Force took him, and he flew more than 50 combat missions over Europe. Gene stayed in the military after the war as a test pilot until he lost both arms when his fighter jet crashed in Panama.
  • The Beaver D, which had allowed only 33 points in the regular season and which had already given up more points than it had in any game that season only had to keep Duke out of the EZ to preserve the victory.
  • Q4 became a turnover fest. A Blue Devil INT led to a safety that made the score 20-16.
  • As time ran down, Rute reentered and tried to do what he couldn't quite accomplish at the end of the first half. But Dethman snared a pass to enable Oregon State to run out the clock.
  • Once again, Wallace Wade lost an undefeated season in the Rose Bowl game. You can't win even on your home field when you give the opponent seven turnovers.
  • Writers proclaimed the game the second greatest upset in Rose Bowl history after Columbia's 7-0 win over Stanford in 1934.
1942 Rose Bowl Action - 2
Davis carries for Duke.
Oregon State's winning TD
Gene Gray scores for Oregon State.
Most of the players who suited up for the game wore military uniforms before they ever put on football togs again.
  • OSC's Frank Parker and Duke's Charlie Haynes fought together in Italy. Parker helped carry a badly wounded Haynes to a farmhouse where medics were able to save him.
  • Wade at age 49 reenlisted right after the Rose Bowl loss. My boys were going in, and I felt like we should stay together as a team. We were just participating in a different battle. After insisting he wanted to serve in combat and not coach military teams, Wade partici­pated in the Battle of the Bulge. While sharing hot coffee and food, he and Stan Czech of OSC realized they were on opposite sides of the field three years earlier.
  • Four of the players in the 1942 Rose Bowl, one from OSC and three from Duke, were killed in action, including Al Hoover, who jumped on a Japanese grenade as if he were recover­ing a loose football to help his team.

For the 50th anniversary of the only Rose Bowl held outside of Pasadena, both squads were invited to the 1992 game.

  • Many of the Duke players finally entered the stadium where they were scheduled to play half a century earlier.
  • The 1942 Rose Bowl remains the only time that Oregon State and Duke have met on the gridiron.
Reference: "War and Roses," Brian Curtis, Sports Illustrated, 8/19/13
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