1966 Liberty Bowl
|1966 Liberty Bowl|
|Date||December 10, 1966|
|Stadium||Memphis Memorial Stadium|
|MVP||Jimmy Cox, Miami|
|United States TV coverage|
The 1966 Liberty Bowl was a post-season American college football bowl game between the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Miami Hurricanes at Memphis Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee on December 10, 1966. The game was the final contest of the 1966 college football season for both teams, and ended in a 14–7 victory for the Miami Hurricanes. A then-record 39,101 tickets were sold for the game, but due to 36-degree temperatures at game time, only 25,012 spectators attended. The game marked just the second time that Virginia Tech had played in a bowl game since the creation of the team in 1892. The game also marked the second time in each school's history that the two teams had faced each other. The previous meeting, held in 1953, ended in a 26–0 shutout victory for the Hurricanes. Current Virginia Tech head football coach and then-player Frank Beamer participated in the game as a backup cornerback for the Hokies.
The Hokies were led on defense by All-America safety Frank Loria, who caught three interceptions and returned three punts for touchdowns as a junior during the 1966 season. In addition, Virginia Tech defensive end George Foussekis was named to the Associated Press second-team All-America team, and helped keep the Hurricanes' offense in check for most of the game. On offense, fullback Tommy Groom served as the third of the Hokies' three team captains during the game. Virginia Tech was coached by Jerry Claiborne, who was in his sixth year as head coach of the Hokies. Under Claiborne, Virginia Tech had amassed a strong 8-1-1 record with wins over Kentucky, Florida State, and Virginia and a 70–12 blowout win over traditional rival VMI in the final game of the season. The Hokies' sole loss came in the first game of the season against Tulane, and Virginia Tech drew a 13–13 tie against West Virginia.
The ninth-ranked Hurricanes boasted a 7–2–1 regular-season record, including wins over Southern California and Florida. The Hurricanes were led on the field by three-time All-American lineback Ted Hendricks, who would later go on to a Hall of Fame career in the National Football League. Off the field, the Hurricanes were coached by Charlie Tate, who would head the Hurricanes football team until 1970.
The game kicked off in frigid 36 °F (2 °C) weather, and from the beginning, defense dominated. In the first half, Tech held Miami to just 16 yards of total offense. On the opposite side of the ball, Miami set bowl game records for fewest rushing yards allowed and fewest first downs allowed. The Hokies got the first big break of the game after blocking Miami's first punt of the game. Taking over at the Miami 21-yard line, it took Virginia Tech just five plays to march into the end zone for an early 7–0 lead. Virginia Tech and Miami battled to a stalemate for the rest of the first half, and Tech went into halftime still clinging to a 7–0 lead.
In the second half, Tech's fortune turned. Late in the third quarter, the Virginia Tech defense stopped Miami's offense again, but instead of receiving the punt cleanly, the Hokies committed a roughing the kicker penalty that allowed Miami to retain possession of the ball with a first down. A few plays later, Miami scored its first touchdown of the game. In the fourth quarter Miami finally took the lead on a 10-play, 70-yard drive. The Hokies were unable to answer the Hurricanes' score, and Miami won the 1966 Liberty Bowl, 14–7.
Miami's Jimmy Cox was named the game's most valuable player after catching five passes for 77 yards—accounting for nearly half of Miami's total offensive output. Miami earned just three rushing first downs during the game, setting a Liberty Bowl record that has yet to be broken.
Each team had two players pass the ball. Tech's Tommy Stafford finished the game having completed four 13 passes for 59 yards and one interception. Several times during the game, the Hokies had also played with Barker passing the ball. He finished having completed two of his three passes for 13 yards. On the Miami side of the ball, Miller completed nine of 26 passes for 99 yards and Olivo completed one pass for nine yards.
On the ground, Virginia Tech's Tommy Francisco led all runners with 21 carries for 55 yards. Backing up Francisco was Tech's Sal Garcia, who finished with three carries for 15 yards. Miami's leading rusher was McGee, who carried the ball 12 times for 36 yards. Backing up McGee was Acuff, who finished with six carries for 25 yards.
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