This is part of a new series of articles looking back at the last time WVU faced off against this season’s opponents. For Big XII opponents, we’ll look back at particularly memorable games so you don’t just get a recap of last season. This week, we throw it way back for Texas.
WVU 7, Texas 6
Location: Austin, TX
Date: October 6, 1956
Though cross-country road trips are now a regular feature of WVU’s schedule, the 1956 road trip to Austin was furthest WVU had traveled in the regular season since 1950, when the Mountaineers ventured to El Paso in route to a 7-48 loss to UTEP.
The Mountaineers had high expectations for the season, despite a young roster. They had opened with a close loss to tenth-ranked Pitt in-front of a capacity crowd at Old Mountaineer Field before rolling to a 30-6 victory over Southern Conference rival Richmond.
Texas, on the other hand, was struggling in what would prove to be the final year of Ed Price’s tenure. The Longhorns had been handled in their season opener by a ranked Southern Cal team, before rebounding with one-point victory over Tulane in New Orleans.
In 1956 under head coach Art “Pappy” Lewis, WVU ran a run heavy version of the the Split-T formation, while Price and Texas had inherited former Texas/Texas A&M/Nebraska legend Dana X. Bible’s offense that featured more of passing. The Longhorns would employee three different quarterbacks throughout the game, passing for a then notable 205 yards.
The first half went by quickly as the two teams grinned against each other and went to halftime locked up without a score. That would change late in the third quarter when WVU capped off an 8 play, 64-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown run from junior fullback Larry Krutko. (In those days, a fullback was the primary runner.)
Texas responded with 5-yard touchdown pass from Joe Clements 13 play, 65-yard drive at the start of the fourth quarter but, crucially, missed the extra point.
Player of the Game: TEAM
In the 1950’s statistics for opposing players were rarely, if ever kept so the box score for this game indicated the entire WVU team rushed for 180 yards on 58 carries.
Significance: After the win, WVU surged to 20th in the AP poll (which at the time only ranked 20 teams) but lost on the road to Syracuse. the team finished 6-4, but stretched it’s Southern Conference winning streak to 21 wins dating back to the 1952 season. Lewis’ 58 career wins still rank fourth all-time among WVU head coaches, which is even more impressive given teams only played 10 games a season.
Texas would go onto their worst record in school history, including the first victory by Texas A&M at DKR Memorial Stadium. That led to Price’s ouster and the hiring of the little known head coach from the Washington Huskies — Darrel K. Royal. Royal went on to win 167 games and part of three national titles.
Trivia: WVU would not win again west of the Mississippi River, going 0-6, until 1975 when WVU did so twice, beating Cal in Berkeley 28-10 and again two weeks later when the eleventh ranked Mountaineers topped SMU 28-22 in the Cotton Bowl.
Trivia II: WVU is 4-1 in DKR all time. Horns, down.
Series Record: 5-3