Tuesdays with Tony: The 1975 Furman Game Was Joe Sumrall’s Day to Shine

LACKEY2

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Col. Tony Lackey ’61 has been around Citadel Athletics since the mid-1950s and provides a weekly blog on some of the sports highlights that he recalls.

By Col. Tony Lackey ‘61

As told to Andy Solomon

It was November 15, 1975, when rival Furman invaded Johnson Hagood Stadium for our Homecoming game.  The Paladins were faring pretty well during that season while the Bulldogs were struggling with a 5-4 record, trying to secure the first winning record in three years.

We were coming off a tough 7-0 loss at Richmond the previous week, and the training room was filled with injured players.  Included on that lengthy list of hurt Bulldogs who were unable to play in the Furman game were our top two quarterbacks, Gene Dotson and Rodney Lanning.

Our third-string quarterback was Joe Sumrall, a likeable guy from Warner Robins, Ga.  Joe hadn’t seen much on-field action except for running the scout team’s offense, but was inserted for the Furman game.

As the football team TAC Officer then, I recall that we had a lot of great kids on that squad that included the likes of Brian Ruff, David Sollazzo, Ron Shelley, Chip Seignious and Ralph Ferguson, to make a few.

Brian Ruff

Brian Ruff

Our two running backs that game were underclassmen Alvin Perkins of Washington, DC and Peter Bistrain of East Hampton, NY.

There was a great crowd (17,345 was the attendance) and atmosphere for this game.  Clearly, it was a close contest throughout, but I remember that Perkins, who came from a military family and who later became a full colonel in the US Army, broke loose for a 50 or 60-yard touchdown run to seal the victory.

Our defense played very well that day.  Our defense that had the likes of Sollazzo on the defensive line and Ruff – truly an All-American in every sense of the word – at linebacker, our defense made play after play and we upset our rivals, 13-9.

The win assured us of a winning season, which was Coach Bobby Ross’s first in three tries at The Citadel.  But what I remember most about this contest was that Sumrall played the game of his life and that Perkins had a memorable day.

Of course, the upset victory was against rival Furman and on Homecoming, so the celebration afterwards was a great one.

As a side note, the Cadets’ annual raid on the Furman campus by the infamous “Furman Raiders” resulted in the obligatory 120 tours per “raider.”

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