Score by Quarters
Like the World War I games of 1918 and 1919, there are times when sports and sporting events – despite the ardent nature with which the country embraces them – simply aren’t that important. The 1942 Rose Bowl Game was one of those times.
The “day that will live in infamy” wasn’t even a month old, and the Army was gunshy. Not only were there blackout restrictions on the West Coast, but General John L. DeWitt, in command of Sixth Army Headquarters in San Francisco, ordered all Pacific Coast sporting events canceled – apparently, large groups of people gathered in one place not far from probably the most famous surprise bombing in American history made him nervous.
Within six hours of DeWitt’s order, on the suggestion of legendary Alabama and Duke coach Wallace Wade, the game was moved to Duke Stadium in Durham, N.C., where the East Coast would now host the West Coast for the first time in Rose Bowl Game history.
“A large part of the Pacific Fleet lies at the bottom of Pearl Harbor,” wrote Rose Bowl historian Maxwell Stiles. “The nation, at war with Germany and Japan, is tense and nerves are taut. There is a blackout on the Pacific Coast, and that includes sport.
“But the Japanese have been able neither to sink nor to black out the Rose Bowl Game.”
So, Oregon State, who was slated at the beginning of the season to finish last among a strong Pacific Coast Conference, had rebounded from a game-one loss to go 7-2 and edge out Stanford for the Rose Bowl Game bid. In their first-ever Rose Bowl Game – the last of the Pacific Coast schools to make it in – the Beavers chose to play Duke, who had gone a perfect 9-0 and was a 3-to-1 favorite by the time kickoff rolled around.
Playing in 53-degree weather and drizzle that probably felt oddly more familiar than the sun-drenched Rose Bowl might have to the Beavers, Oregon State beat Duke, 20-16, at its home stadium in Durham, N.C. The stadium’s capacity was increased from 35,000 to 56,000 for the game via temporary bleachers.
Late in the first quarter, the Beavers struck first. From 15 yards out, Oregon State Head Coach Lon Stiner called an option with left-handed quarterback Don Durdan; Durdan held on and took it in nearly untouched: 7-0, Oregon State.
Early in the second quarter, the “home” team struck back. Tom Davis ran for 29 yards, and All-American Steve Lach, who ran for 129 yards on 11 carries, picked up 22 more. Lach took it in from there to score. The score was 7-7, where it remained at halftime.
The back-and-forth continued in the third quarter. For Oregon State, Durdan hit George Zellick for a 32-yard touchdown pass. For Duke, Lach started a drive with a 38-yard pickup on a reverse, and the Blue Devils punched it in a few plays later: 14-14.
Fans, however, wouldn’t have to wait long for the deciding score. Bob Dethman hit Gene Gray for a 68-yard touchdown pass three plays later. Although the extra point was missed, the “20” under the Oregon State name on the Duke Stadium scoreboard was all the displaced Left Coasters would need. For the first time in history, a Pacific Coast team returned to the West Coast with a Rose Bowl Game victory.
OSU – Durdan, 15-yard run (Simas kick good)
Duke – Lach, 4-yard run (Piasecky kick good)
OSU – Zellick, 32-yard pass from Durdan (Simas kick good)
Duke – Siegfried, 1-yard run (Prothro kick good)
OSU – Gray, 68-yard pass from Dethman; 40-yard pass from Dethman followed by a 28-yard run (Simas kick blocked)
Duke – Karmazin, tackled Durdan in the end zone for a safety
Oregon State: Alonzo Stiner
Duke: Wallace Wade
The 1942 Rose Bowl Game was held at the Duke University Stadium, the first time it was not held in Pasadena, due to the blackout on the West Coast caused by the war with Germany and Japan and an Army decree that grounded all sporting events on the West Coast.
OSU: Durdan 16-54; Day 17-63; Dethman 7-32
Duke: Lach 11-129