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.
1942 Texas A&M: Dark's Dazzling Debut
Alvin Dark played one year of football at LSU but what a year it was! In 1942, Dark was a sophomore from Lake Charles High School. Many considered him too small at 160 lb for a running back, but he proved his critics wrong, starting with his outstanding play on the LSU freshman team in 1941.
The '42 Tigers opened their schedule with a "breather" against Louisiana Normal College from Natchitoches LA. But LSU Coach Bernie Moore admitted he was already preparing his squad for Game #2 against mighty Texas A&M of the Southwest Conference. The Tigers rewarded his confidence in them with a 40-0 thumping of the Demons.

L-R: Alvin Dark, Sulcer Harris, Walter Gorinski, Jeff Burkett
(All pictures from the 1942 LSU-Tulane game program, LSU Archives)
Homer Norton's Aggies had been voted #1 in the fourth Associated Press poll in 1939 when they finished 11-0. They went 9-1 in 1940 and 9-2 in '41. Who could blame Moore for looking ahead to this powerful foe?
The game attracted national attention as evidenced by the fact that it was broadcast not only on the LSU and Texas A&M networks but also on NBC's nationwide "Blue" network. A crowd of 30,000 was expected for the 8:15 PM kickoff in Tiger Stadium, but "a drizzling rain and snappy winds" reduced the attendance to 25,000. The conditions harmed the visitors more than the Tigers as the Aggies shanked several punts of the slippery pigskin.
LSU threatened first when HB Sulcer Harris broke off left tackle and, aided by a beautiful block by FB Walter Gorinski, ran 33y to the A&M 34. But the Aggies snuffed out the threat with an interception on the nine.
Dark replaced Harris on LSU's next possession which again penetrated A&M territory only to end with a fourth-down incompletion on the 15. Neither team came close to scoring the rest of the period.
Dark's 50y Punt Tilts Field for LSU
Dark showed his punting prowess with a rocket shot that traveled 50y to the Aggie 17 and was returned 14y. A&M reached midfield before a penalty and a fumble moved them back to the 35. A poor punt gave the Tigers the ball on the Aggie 49.
Harris returned and skirted right end for 16y. But two plays later, he left the game with an injury. That brought Dark back in.
Tigers Take Control with Two Long TD Runs
It took Dark only two plays to break the scoring ice. First, the sophomore sensation ran over left tackle to the 27. Then he zipped through right tackle, veered to the sideline, cut back at the 10, leaving three Aggies grabbing thin year, and sped into the end zone. One writer called it "as neat a scoring run as ever seen in Tiger Stadium." Alvin booted the PAT to make it LSU 7 Texas A&M 0 with six minutes left before halftime.
The Aggie offense showed some life, moving to the LSU 48 until Jeff Burkett from Laurel MS intercepted Leo Daniels' long pass on the LSU 30 and returned down the sideline until he cut back at the 20 to elude three brawny defenders and continued into the end zone. Burkett also booted the extra point to double LSU's lead with a little over a minute left in the half. LSU 14 Texas A&M 0
Safety Pads LSU's Lead
A&M's second possession of the second half started when A&M punted 50y to A&M, who returned 30y to midfield. Daniels then fired a strike to Floyd Hand, who couldn't handle it at the 30. So the Aggies got another poor boot to the LSU 34.
Dark carried up the middle for 11, then threw to Dilton Richmond for 15 more. But the Aggies stemmed the momentum, and Dark angled a beautiful punt out of bounds on the six.
Daniels tried to run from punt formation, but T Reldon Bennett from Lake Village AK broke through and tackled him in his tracks for a safety to make it 16-0 LSU. The extra two points made it a three-score lead 17 years before the two-point conversion.
The Aggies finally got their aerial game clicking and scored three minutes into the fourth quarter on a 44y pass from Daniels to Cullen Rogers. FINAL SCORE: LSU 16 TEXAS A&M 7
Coach Bernie Moore was pleased with his defense. "I knew we were in pretty good shape physically and could count on some good offense, but I really was thrilled at the defense the boys showed."