Georgia Tech: 8
Standing at 5-0 with the country’s #3 ranking, Georgia Tech would travel to Nashville, Tennessee to do battle with the Vanderbilt Commodores at Dudley Field. The Commodores entered the contest at 3-2, fresh off of a 33-13 loss at Florida. The Yellow Jackets took the last meeting between the two squads with a 12-7 victory in Atlanta to open up the 1949 campaign. The ’51 installment looked to be a close one, given that terrible weather conditions swept the Nashville area, creating a mud-bath in which the players had to participate.
The Ramblin’ Wreck took the ball first and promptly punted it to the Commodore 24 yard line. On second down, Richard Foster lost 11 yards to his own 12 and dropped back to punt a couple plays later. But Lamar Wheat broke through the line and blocked Foster’s punt out of bounds at the Vanderbilt 2 and Tech earned an early scoring opportunity.
Glenn Turner burst into the end zone on Tech’s first play to follow, but Pepper Rodgers missed extra point left the Yellow Jacket lead at 6-0.
The teams exchanged punts for the remainder of the first quarter before Tech took over at midfield early in the second. Darrell Crawford hit Pete Ferris on a 17 yard strike to the 30 and Leon Hardeman alternated runs with Turner and Crawford en route to the 8. The Jackets would move as far as the 4 before John Cheadle intercepted Crawford’s third down pass in the end zone to put an end to the threat.
With the rain continuing to fall, neither team could mount much of a threat for the remainder of the half, and the Jackets would maintain their six point advantage at the break.
As play resumed in the third quarter, the intensity of the rain only increased. Tech drove deep into Vanderbilt territory on the opening drive, but missed out on a score when Bob Taylor blocked Pepper Rodgers’s field goal attempt.
Midway through the period, Dave Davis made a beautiful punt that plugged in the mud just inches outside the Vanderbilt goal line. Foster was smothered in the end zone on the first play by Ray Beck and Edward Carithers to give Tech a bit of a cushion with an 8-0 lead.
The Yellow Jacket offense did its best to increase the lead after the free kick when it marched to within the Commodore 10 yard line. But the drive ended when senior fullback George Maloof lost a fumble to Winfred Golden at the 2 and Vanderbilt quickly punted out of trouble.
In the final period, Tech drove twice to within Vanderbilt’s 10, but lost the ball on downs on both occasions.
Late in the contest, Vanderbilt finally caught a break when Pepper Rodgers lost a fumble at the Yellow Jacket 32 yard line. After losing 4 on a first down pass, Bill Wade gained 18 on a draw to the Tech 19 and hit Ted Kirkland one play later for a touchdown with 1:09 remaining.
Trailing 8-7, Vanderbilt attempted an onside kick to gain one last attempt at a score. But the Yellow Jacket coverage team did its job and the offense ran out the clock to hold on to a tough fought, one-point victory.
The win was Tech’s eighth in a row, dating back to the final two games of the 1950 season.
Vanderbilt went on to win three of its last five to finish at 6-5 on the year.
GT – 17
VAN – 4
GT – 201
VAN – 73
GT – 7-11-78
VAN – 2-7-14
GT – 1
VAN – 0
GT – 3
VAN – 1
GT – 85
VAN – 66
Danforth, Ed. “Tech Beats Vandy In Mud Battle, 8-7.” The Atlanta Journal Constitution. 1951 Oct. 28