LSU Pivotal Football Moments
pivotal college football moment: A decision by a coach or athletic director that changes the momentum of a program or an action by a player that changes the momentum of a game.
1938 Vanderbilt: Tigers Gain Revenge
LSU's visit to Nashville in 1937 left a bitter taste in the Tigers' mouths. Vanderbilt pull­ed the infamous "hidden ball" play to win 7-6. The defeat kept the Tigers from a share of the SEC championship with Alabama, which went 6-0 in league play. The Commodores' visit to Baton Rouge for homecoming in 1938 provided the Tigers with a chance for re­venge. The fact that Ray Morrison's 4-0 squad had just entered the Associated Press poll at #16 added spice to the contest.
After an opening loss to Ole Miss, the Tigers had defeated Texas, Rice, and Loyola (New Orleans) by a combined score of 70-6.
Coach Morrison told the press that he had a new trick that would surpass the one in 1937. "We worked it so well in practice this week that we lost five footballs."
30,000, one of the largest crowds to ever see a Vanderbilt football game, saw a defen­sive struggle in which one team dominated the statistics, but the other won the game. The throng included Governor and Mrs. Gordon Browning of Tennessee.

A Vandy ball-carrier tries to elude the Tigers. (LSU Gumbo Yearbook Class of 1939)
Milner and Kavanaugh Stop Sure Touchdown
The first thrill came on the second play when Vandy's lefthanded quarterback Junius "Doc"Plunkett tossed a screen pass over "the gigantic Bengal forward wall" (Nashville Tennessean) to Dutch Reinschmidt, who started down the right side as his blockers "cut down Tigers like they whack down cane stalks in this flat country." Only one defender was left in his path, HB Guy Milner, who fended off a blocker until he forced Plunkett to cut to his left where E Ken Kavanaugh enveloped him at the 20. The Tigers dug in and stopped three plays short of the first down marker. Then HB Jabbo Stell intercepted the fourth down pass to end the threat.
The Tigers never got out of the hole the rest of the quarter.
As was common in that era, both coaches substituted entirely new elevens for the second quarter. Each team got a turnover in the other side's territory but couldn't capitalize. Jim­my Cajoleas intercepted a pass and returned to Vandy's 34, but the Commodores forced a punt. That would prove to be Commodores's only penetration of enemy territory in the first three quarters.
Bartram Forces Punt
Later in the second period, Tiger HB Charlie Erdman was hit hard after receiving a punt, and Vandy recovered on the LSU 36. On third down, G Dave Bartram broke through and threw QB Bert Marshall for a loss of 6y to force a punt.
The half ended on an exciting play that left the Commodores even more frustrated. Vandy had the ball on the LSU 33. Marshall threw a long pass that Barrett Booth inter­cepted on the three. Booth tried a lateral that went astray. A wild scramble ensued until Marvin Franklin recovered for the visitors on the 12 as the gun ended the scoreless first half.

All-SEC T Eddie Gatto leads Jake Staples on an end sweep. (LSU Gumbo Yearbook Class of 1939)
Kavanaugh Intercepts
Vandy's first possession of the second half reached the LSU 27 before bogging down.
The game remained scoreless into the fourth quarter. The Commodores again invaded LSU territory only to be thwarted when E Ken Kavanaugh snagged Marshall's pass at the 28.
Staples Breaks the Deadlock
As more and more spectators resigned themselves to a scoreless tie, the Tiger offense suddenly got in gear. The pivotal moments of the game started when "the husky LSU linemen" smeared Marshall for a 14y loss to the 15. Erdman returned Marshall's punt into a strong wind 4y to the Vandy 46. The Tigers went to the air, and Erdman made a difficult catch of sophomore Ashford Simes' "bullet" pass for a first down on the 32 for LSU's furthest penetration into Vandy territory. After FB Jake Staples skirted left end for 8y, Simes hit Kavanaugh for eight more and a first down on the 15.
Staples took the next snap and started around left end. He cut back, drove through two would-be tacklers, and continued into the end zone. Milner kicked the extra point. LSU 7 Vanderbilt 0 with five and a half minutes to play. "The stands literally shook with cheers" (Nashville Tennessean).
The Commodores mounted a desperate aerial attack after the kickoff. They were on their way into LSU territory when Simes leaped to break up a pass intended for Ralph Hinton. Upset because he thought interference should have been called, Hinton slugged Simes and was ejected from the game and Vanderbilt penalized back to their 37. An unnecessary roughness penalty against LSU on the next play put the ball on the Tiger 49. BUt after several more incomplete passes, Vandy punted to the LSU 33. The Tigers ran out the clock for a hard-fought victory that maintained the LSU tradition of never losing a homecoming battle.
Vanderbilt led in first downs 13-5, total yards 260-120, punt return yardage 55-24, and lost no fumbles to LSU's two. But none of those statistics translated into a victory. The Nashville Tennessean article the next day said, "If Vanderbilt ever deserved to win, it did on this chilly night, for it outplayed the Bengals from start to finish. It held a tremendous advantage in every department except the all important one of making points."
Revenge is sweet!