The Wolfpacker

September 2013

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 85 of 95

■ pack past The 1963 Season Changed The Future Of NC State Football By Tim Peeler here were few stars, and fewer expectations. There was, however, some overall talent and experience on NC State's 1963 football team, and a deep need for some athletic success during one of the darkest times in the department's history. Frankly, head coach Earle Edwards, entering his 10th season at NC State, and the school needed some gridiron success on the field if the Wolfpack ever wanted to generate the excitement needed to raise funds for a new home to replace crumbling Riddick Stadium. Edwards was always cautious going into a season, but he knew that the beleaguered senior class, which had gone undefeated on the freshmen team in 1960, wanted to rebound from the back-to-back losing seasons they had suffered. It had the experience to do so. The first three two-way platoons had only three sophomores in the mix. Senior Don Montgomery was an All-ACC end and as fine a two-way player as Edwards ever coached. Quarterback Jim Rossi was another senior leader who knew how to make plays. The offensive line was experienced, with senior tackles Bert Wilder and Chuck Wachtel and senior guard Bill Sullivan. "We are encouraged about the prospect of having the most experienced squad we have had in the last few years," Edwards said in the preseason. But would anybody be there to see them play? As was typical for that time, Edwards' team had only three home games slated for the '63 season, with the first one against perennial college football power Duke on Oct. 26. The other two home games were in November. In previous years, the team was long out of contention for the ACC title when Raleigh's oaks turned colors, so moving tickets early in the year was important. Wolfpack Club members could buy season tickets for $12 each, and those who bought five of them got the sixth one for free. And if that was too much of a burden, back when a gallon of gas was 30 cents and a first-class stamp was four pennies, the ticket office, for the first time in school history, accepted partial payment in June and the remainder on Sept. 1. Edwards and the Pack did not build on the success of the school's first Atlantic Coast Conference championship in 1957, when the experienced backfield of Dick Christy and Dick Hunter and one of the nation's top defenses managed a miracle season. The Pack had posted losing seasons in four of the next T Earle Edwards earned ACC Coach of the Year honors after guiding NC State to a share of the '63 ACC crown, which paved the way for an unprecendented string of success before he retired in 1970. Photo courtesy nc state media relations five years, even with two-time All-American quarterback Roman Gabriel at the helm from 1959‑61. Basketball was on the wane at NC State, as well. Legendary head coach Everett Case, still mourning the loss of his program's prominence and respectability and the end of his beloved Dixie Classic in the wake of a gambling and point-shaving scandal in 1961, had been told that the 1964-65 season would be his last, due to the state of North Carolina's mandatory retirement guidelines. (He lasted only two games in the season, anyway, because of health problems.) Edwards knew it would be hard to generate much excitement about his team, since six of the first seven games were on the road. But Rossi steered the team to victories at Maryland and Southern Mississippi by connecting on 21 of 25 passes in the two games. In the third game, Rossi made what should be remembered as one of the greatest single plays in Wolfpack football history. Trailing 3‑0 to Clemson, a team the Pack had not scored against since 1958, Rossi threw a 77yard bomb to uncovered junior Ray Barlow for the only touchdown of the game. "I don't know where Barlow came from," Edwards said afterwards, "but I was sure glad to see him." Rossi outplayed future NFL head coach Dan Reeves the following week, and the Wolfpack beat South Carolina in Columbia to go to 4-0 for the second time in four years and take an early lead in the ACC standings. But unlike 1960, Gabriel's junior year, the Pack did not swoon late in the season. It did suffer its first defeat in mid-October, when North Carolina broke a 10-10 tie at intermission with three second-half touchdowns to tie the Wolfpack at the top of the league standings. Still, the Pack was 4-1 heading to Riddick Stadium for its first home game of the season, to face undefeated Duke. The Pack had not beaten the Blue Devils since 1946, and head coach Bill Murray's squad owned a 13-game ACC winning streak. The outlook wasn't exactly brilliant for the Pack that day. But halfback Mike Clark, another senior, and Rossi both reeled off 55-yard runs in the first half to give their team a 14-0 lead, and Montgomery intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter on defense and returned it 11 yards to complete the 21-7 upset of the ACC powerhouse. Edwards' team followed up with wins over Virginia in Norfolk, Va., and non-conference foe Virginia Tech at home, before losing at 86  ■  the wolfpacker 86,88.Pack Past.indd 86 8/23/13 2:21 PM

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolfpacker - September 2013