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Tommy Lewis’ “Off-the-Bench” Tackle Proved His Alabama Pride
Screenshot from YouTube

Hold-me-back guys have one job and one job only.

A coach approaches the ref on the field, and the HMB guy puts an arm around him to pull him back across the sideline.

You can’t use your full strength though. It’s important to let the head man budge a little to make it look like he’s fighting for his team’s life.

The job also requires you wear a shirt two sizes too small and do 50 extra curls in the gym.

These guys have become a staple of college football.

Where were they back in 1954, when Alabama fullback Tommy Lewis jumped off the bench to get in on the action?

Tommy Lewis’ Bench Tackle

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The Alabama Crimson Tide were fresh off a 10-7 victory over Auburn in the Iron Bowl. Head coach Harold “Red” Drew had his team fired up heading into the Cotton Bowl Classic against the Rice Owls.

Rice was the king of Texas that year. The Owls took down Texas, Texas A&M, TCU, and Baylor on their way to the New Year’s Day bowl in Dallas. All-American Running back Dicky Moegle was a big reason for the success.

Moegle’s backfield prowess proved to be a problem for the Alabama defense. He sliced through with touchdown runs of 79, 34, and 95 yards. The 95-yard touchdown run is where Alabama’s Tommy Lewis comes into play, literally.

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It was early in the second quarter, and the Owls were on their own 5-yard line. Moegle received a handoff and flew down the sideline, dusting Crimson Tide defenders. He got past midfield when, out of the blue, Lewis leaps from the Alabama bench and tackles Moegle.

Lewis returned to the bench, sobbing, and the rare “palpably unfair act” was enforced, awarding Rice the touchdown.

When asked why he jumped onto the field, the embarrassed Alabama football player delivered an answer only those in Tuscaloosa will understand: “[I] had too much ‘Bama in me.”

You gotta love the guy’s passion for the program.

Rice walked away with a 28-6 victory. Lewis scored ‘Bama’s lone touchdown on a 2-yard run. He apologized to the Rice halfback after the game, Two days later, they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show together.

The play is one of the oddest and most famous plays in college football history. I don’t blame Lewis, though.

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I see a clear path from the sideline to the field, and I can’t help but wonder where the hold-me-back guy is.

MORE: Derrick Thomas? 5th ?Hurricane Bowl? Sack Crushed Texas A&M

Joe Grobeck About the author:
Joe is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and lives in Austin, Texas. He believes Ndaumkong Suh should've won the 2009 Heisman and is an avid basketball fan.
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