The following column originally ran in the Monday, Nov. 6, 1967, edition of the Corvallis Gazette-Times.
The headline in Sunday's Los Angeles Examiner screamed: "Did Prothro blow it?"
Saturday's Oregon State-UCLA game is a second-guesser's delight, no question about that. Both coaches, Tommy Prothro of the Bruins and Dee Andros of OSU, had difficult decisions to make during the heated battle.
Prothro's choice came late in the fourth quarter with the Bruins leading 16-13. His club faced a fourth-and-goal situation on the OSU 10-yard line. The Bruin boss ignored the field goal that would have put his club six points ahead and went for the touchdown. Beaver Mark Waletich intercepted a Gary Beban pass in the end zone to end the threat.
Never considered three-pointer
"I never debated a field goal," Prothro answered the quizzical L.A. press. "I didn't want Oregon State going for it ... we've still got to win two to go to the Rose Bowl."
"Oregon State is in the eliminated position now ... if they want to play for tie, then let them go for it," Prothro added.
"I didn't say I wouldn't have gone for the tie in the same position," Prothro continued. "It's a pretty good tie for them ... and I assume Dee feels the same way or he wouldn't have done it."
Andros had his choice to make with 1:54 left. His Beavers trailed by three points and faced a fourth-and-six situation at the UCLA 11.
"I felt I know Tommy well enough," Andros pointed out. "If we don't make it on fourth down, he'll sit on the ball and we'll never get it back."
"If we tie the ball game up, he'll open up and try to win it ... then we might have a chance to get an interception or a fumble."
Certainly a team's chances on fourth and six are slim. And Oregon State as playing the nation's second-ranked team. A field goal was the logical move.
Extra-point miss not that costly
OSU place-kicker Mike Haggard was a tearful young man in the Beaver dressing room following the game.
He felt his missed extra point after the second Oregon State touchdown cost the Beavers the game, a miss that hit the last upright. On paper that appears to be true.
But if Haggard makes that extra point, the complexion of the game changes considerably.
Now Prothro will probably go for a field goal on that same situation in which he passed it up. That's because his Bruins would be leading by only two points, 16-14. A three-pointed would be needed to put them out of field goal range by the Beavers.
Then the Beavers would have had no choice but go for the touchdown late in the game instead of kicking the tying three-pointer.
But Haggard came through when he had to. He booted one straight through from 28 yards out with the game riding on his shoulders.
He has no reason to be ashamed of his efforts. He made his kick in the clutch while Bruin Zenon Andrusyshyn didn't. Yes, it was blocked, but we doubt the kick had enough height to make it anyway.
No reason to play it safe
Tackle Ron Boley, the Beaver defender who blocked Andrusyshyn's kick, made an "ad lib" defensive play to save the tie.
Boley is supposed to check the tight end, then rush the kicker on such situations. But the Beavers knew the Bruins wouldn't try anything but a field goal, so threw all caution to the winds and rushed everybody.
"This time I went down the line of scrimmage," Boley said. "I saw a hole, crashed through it and blocked the kick."
Bob Jeremiah, who plays alongside Boley, caused the hole by pulling out. The Bruin over Jeremiah followed him, so Boley went in fast in the vacancy created.
Boley came home with a red abrasion on his ribs, a fine coat of arms for such a key play.
Paper claims foul play?
Big picture in the L.A. Herald Examiner Sunday shows Haggard kicking his game-tying field goal.
Encircled in the photo is OSU lineman Clyde Smith, who appears to be holding a Bruin defender. "Was there foul play?" the H-E asks.
What about the fumble loss the Bruins got back or Bill Enyart's questionable fourth-down touchdown plunge?
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