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THE REWATCH: West Virginia vs. Texas Tech

The Rewatch Returns! This time we take a look at the 1938 Sun Bowl.

The Rewatch Returns! 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 Tech 6

Location: El Paso, TX
Date: January 1, 1938

For the first time in it’s history, the Sun Bowl hosted a team from outside of Texas as the Mountaineers under head coach Marshall “Little Sleepy” Glenn traveled to El Paso to face the Red Raiders of Texas Tech in the school’s second bowl appearance, the previous being the 1922 East-West Game in San Diego, California.

The Mountaineers, who were in the first season under Glenn (who was also serving as the head basketball coach) entered with an 8-1-1 record, with victories over Washington and Lee, Waynesburg, and Clarence “Doc” Speers coached Toledo team. (Speers had led WVU to victory in the 1922 game.) Their only loss came at the hands of eventual national champions Pitt.

The Red Raiders, meanwhile, were the Border Conference Champions, with an 8-3 record under Pete Cawthon, and also appearing in their first Sun Bowl.

The first quarter ended in a scoreless tie as neither team managed to find the endzone. That wasn’t particularly surprising to Mountaineer faithful, as the 1937 team recorded six shutouts.

After forcing a punt from the Mountaineer offense, Texas Tech fumbled on the ensuing first play, giving WVU the ball near the endzone. Facing a fourth down, “Little Sleepy” rolled the dice and sent in the fourth down play.

Tailback David Isaac swept left, but fumbled the ball. What ensued next would be a top 10 play of the year in the television era. Isaac recovered his own fumble and avoided three tacklers to reach the end-zone to give WVU the lead. An extra point by Emmett “Kelly” Moan put the Mountaineers up 7-0

The Red Raiders rallied, however, and led by quarterback Ed Smith, who completed three passes for 48 yards, drove 80 yards and scored on a 1 yard run by Charlie Calhoun. A second costly mistake on the extra point attempt proved fatal however, as WVU blocked the kick to remain ahead 7-6 as the two teams headed into the locker room.

WVU would hold on to win the second bowl victory in two tries, despite being out-gained by the Red Raiders 247-193.

Player of the Game: Harry Clarke, 26 att for 132 yards

Clarke, just as sophomore, lead all rushers with 132 yards, adding to his nearly 1000 yard total for the season. He would have eclipsed that mark had a 92-yard touchdown run in the second half not been called back for holding. His 921-yards were a team record.

Clarke would not find the same success during the next two seasons, but did go onto play for the Chigago Bears, Los Angeles Dons, and Chicago Rockets. He scored two touchdowns in the 1940 NFL Championship game.

Significance: It would be over eleven years before WVU would again be invited to a bowl game — the 1949 Sun Bowl. Glenn, who stepped down as WVU basketball coach in ‘38, would continue to coach the football team for another two seasons, but both proved a disappointment. His replacement, Carnegie Tech’s Bill Kern would also struggle.

Texas Tech went onto to play in their first Cotton Bowl after going 10-0 in the 1939 regular season. Pete Cawthon remained at the helm in Lubbock until 1940 when he stepped down to focus on his duties as athletic director. It wouldn’t be until 1952, however, till Red Raiders would win their first bowl game, the 1952 Sun Bowl against the Pacific University Tigers.

Trivia: Bobby Bowden was the first WVU coach to lead the Mountaineers to multiple bowl games during his tenure when WVU was invited to the Peach Bowl in 1975. Previously, Jim Carlen, Gene Corum, Art “Pappy” Lewis, Dudley DeGroot, Glenn, and Spears had each led the Mountaineers to only a single bowl game each.

Series Record: 6-2