Saturday, October 27, 2012
- by B.B. Branton
Homecoming on Sewanee Mountain causes the usually quiet college campus nestled among 10,000 acres of Tennessee Pine, to come alive with excitement as alums and friends come from coast-to-coast for a weekend of activities centered around a Southern tradition called college football.
To make it a special Homecoming, the Sewanee Tigers have invited long-standing rival Rhodes College to campus - kickoff is today at 2:30 EDT - to “celebrate” the 10th Anniversary of the 2002 Sewanee win known forever more as “Punt Rhodes Punt”.
With the series touching three centuries – the first game was played in 1899 with a 46-0 Sewanee victory – Sewanee-Rhodes is the Division III answer to Harvard-Yale, Stanford-Cal, Ohio State-Michigan, USC-Notre Dame and Alabama-Auburn.
But a decade ago a special chapter in the rivalry was written, as two Sewanee Tigers – Don Rodgers and Nate Murphy – became legendary gridiron heroes in that 36-31 come-from-behind Homecoming win.
Rodgers blocked three Rhodes punts – one in the first quarter and two more in the fourth (tying an NCAA record) and Murphy returned each block for a touchdown (setting an new NCAA record) and Sewanee had its history-making win.
ESPN Asked “Who’s Got Don Rodgers?” - The Rodgers to Murphy to end zone glory was soon known nationwide as the dynamic duo were recognized in “Faces in the Crowd” in Sports Illustrated later that fall and ESPN’s Chris Fowler labeled the game, “Punt Rhodes Punt” in the sports network’s Hidden Video segment.
One of Fowler’s announcing side kicks asked the famous question, “At some point tell your players “Who’s Got Don Rodgers.” … point him out … that’s three blocks!”
Fowler countered with “They (Rhodes) are not the ‘Rhodes Scholars’ of special teams … punt on third down … quick kick … do something ! … How can that happen “ ?… The game will forever be known as ‘Punt Rhodes Punt.’”
“It was a pretty incredible game as no one on Rhodes defense blocked me and I was able to block the three punts,” said Rodgers now an attorney in Louisville who will be at today’s Sewanee –Rhodes game.
“Nate was able to return each one for touchdowns and we made history that Saturday afternoon 10 years ago.”
Editor’s Note: Fowler’s tag of “Punt Rhodes Punt” was in reference to the famous Dec. 2, 1972 Alabama-Auburn game at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala.
(from Wikipedia … ) Trailing 16-3 to No.2 and 10-0 Alabama, Auburn's Bill Newton blocked Greg Gantt's punt and his teammate David Langner ran the ball back 25 yards for an Auburn touchdown, narrowing the score to 16–10. Several minutes later, Alabama was forced to punt again and once again Newton blocked the punt and Langner again returned it for a touchdown. Gardner Jett kicked the extra point to give Auburn a 17–16 win.
The headline in a Birmingham paper the following morning screamed “Punt ‘Bama Punt.”
contact B.B. Branton at email@example.com