This is game No. 10 of the top 40 games featuring Concordia Parish team.
The 42nd straight win without a loss for the Ferriday Bulldog football team on September 14, 1956 would surely have made the ESPN top plays highlight nowadays.
Ferriday beat Delhi 20-13 as lineman Tommy Brasher scored the winning touchdown after catching a pitch by the Bear quarterback and returning it 70 yards with 10 seconds left on the clock.
“We didn’t expect them to be that tough, and we were having a hard time moving the ball against them,” said Brasher, who would transfer back to his hometown of El Dorado, Ar., his junior year before going on to play college football at Arkansas. “I was expecting them to run out the clock and take the tie, and the next thing that I knew there the ball was in the air and it just came down right into my hands, so I grabbed it and ran.”
“I remember all of us running behind Tommy, yelling, ‘Run, run, run you big dummy.’ He told us later he was running as fast as he could,” Donnie Daye said.
With the game tied at 13-13 and Delhi inside Ferriday territory with 10 seconds remaining, Bear quarterback Bobby Leech was caught behind the line attempting to pass the ball. At the last second, he attempted to pitch the ball to running back Buster Harrell, who was hit by Butch Bateman. Brasher intercepted the pass and ran 70 yards as time ran out. Brasher, who went on to coach in college and the NFL, was carried from the field by his teammates after kicking the extra point.
“The ball fell right in my hands,” Brasher said. “That could have been anybody. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. That was not the best play choice. I just caught the ball and took off with it. I had nobody chasing me. I think the quarterback and running back were kind of stunned. That was definitely one of the strangest plays I had ever been associated with. It’s a fond memory, but it’s also luck.”
Brasher, who played fullback on offense, took extra pleasure in tackling Leech.
“Coach (Johnny “Red”) Robertson really built up Delhi as a fine team, but I don’t think that we believed it,” Brasher said. “He always built the opponent up as any good coach would do, but he had special tribute to Leech. Our problem was on offense,not stopping them. Coach was concerned about Delhi, but they were Class B, and it was early in the season. You have to give them credit, they were ready, and I remember them taunting us late in the game.”
Brasher, who now lives in Seattle, Wa., would serve as an assistant coach to Andy Reid with the Philadephia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs before retiring.
Reid led the Chiefs to the Super Bowl championship in February.
Brasher, who is retired now and will turn 80 on December 30, said he enjoyed seeing his longtime friend win it all.
“That was really special,” he said.
Daye returned a punt 35 yards to the Delhi 4-yard line and scored from there for first touchdown of game. Brasher’s kick hit the crossbar and bounced back for a 6-0 Bulldog lead.
“I loved returning punts,” Daye said. “That was my forte. It was fun to sit back there, catch the ball and get a glimpse of what is coming at you. If I could get past that first man, I generally could get past the next three or four. Then I would look for that seam.”
Delhi, which lost to Holy Name 34-7 in the Class B finals in 1955 and beat Zachary 25-6 for the Class B state title in 1957, took a 7-6 lead in the second quarter, scoring on a 13-6 on fumble recovery for 18 yards and led by one point at halftime, the first time Ferriday trailed at intermission since 1952 against Winnsboro.
Delhi went up 13-6 in the fourth quarter as Leech passed 16 yards to Brown. Daye tied the game with a 23-yard scoring run and kicked the extra point to tie the game at 13-13.
Ferriday gambled on fourth-and-five and failed, giving Delhi the ball at the Bulldog 22, which led to Brasher’s winning play.
“I think that we were a better defensive team in ‘56 than offense,” Brasher said.
The 42-game winning streak was tainted a bit the next week, but still alive as Ferriday and defending Class 2A champion Jena played to a 13-13 tie.
“That was bittersweet, but it still wasn’t losing,” Brasher said. “I do remember that as a team, we felt that we had escaped disaster against Delhi, and that we would not assume anything from that point on. We didn’t talk much about it, but it was just a feeling amoung the team. We were a good team, but we were not as dominant as the ‘55 team. We went into the Delhi game thinking that nobody could beat us, and they didn’t, but you don’t lose people like we lost from the ‘55 team without having some drop off. We did get it together and develop, but we were younger and less experienced at the time of that game.”
“I knew a lot of their players,” Harmon said. “J.D. Stockstill was really good and Doonie Preis went on to play at Auburn. Clyde Ray Webber (who finished third in the district in scoring) came in to hold for an extra point and he said to let him kick one of the extra points. I told him, “not this time, some other time.”
Webber, who retired last week after 54 years as Concordia Parish Clerk of Court, ended up being kicked unintentionally above the eye by Preis while holding on a conversion kick.
“Waterproof had a Preis boy who was hard to stop,” said Ferriday head coach Johnny “Red” Robertson. “If you did not get to him before he reached the line of scrimmage he would be tough to bring down. He was quick and fast. They also had a young quarterback. Frank and Max would talk to him the whole game and made him real nervous.”
Robertson was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 and died in 2013.
Waterproof attempted to punt away from Harmon, resulting in a 4-yard punt to the Waterproof 42. Harmon capped off the short scoring drive with a 1-yard run.
A 54-yard run by Don Horton inside the Waterproof 10-yard line in the second half went for naught after a Bulldog fumble, but a short Waterproof punt led to a 6-yard TD scamper by Guy Hill. Hill scored 20 touchdowns in 1953.
“I always called Guy Hill a ‘stomping runner’ because he ran so hard and always wanted to run over you,” said Ferriday All-American Max Fugler, who was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame last year.
Each team had a TD called back as Johnson recovered a fumble and raced 70 yards for a score, only to have that negated. Stockstill completed a screen pass to Neal Fletcher that went the distance, but was called back. Horton intercepted a Tiger pass at the Bulldog 10-yard line and returned it 25 yards to end that drive.
Marion Newman was a senior lineman on the team.
“It was just knock-down, drag-out all the time,” Newman said. “We had some hard practices. And we ran a lot of sprints with no water breaks. We played real football at practice. When we got through on Wednesday afternoons, Friday nights were easy. That’s what we looked forward to. It was a picnic compared to the practices.”
“It was a lot of fun,” said Hill, who was one of the top running backs in the state when he played from 1952-54. “Just about every boy in the school played football. We practiced real hard and everybody knew they were going to play. In 1958, LSU created the Chinese Bandits, letting their third string play first string. We were doing that before then. The thing I remember most, though, is how hard we practiced. It was rough. We didn’t really have any water breaks. And we ran a lot of sprints and gassers.”
“I think the 1955 team was our best team, but beating Tallulah that year helped our confidence going into the playoffs,” Brocato said. “Without a doubt, they were a contender, too
“It was like riding a magic carpet,” said Leo Young Jr., who played on the 1953 and 1954 teams before playing college ball at Tulane. “We had a lot of good football players. And during the latter part of the games, coaches were able to play the younger boys. The next year they would come in with playing experience. Someone like Donnie Daye played a lot when he was young and it was like that for a lot of the guys. Every year that goes by I am more and more amazed the record is still intact. It was a thrill to be a part of that. We had some wonderful coaches who knew how to get everything out of everybody.”
“Coach Robertson was always driving us to get to where we needed to be and we were fortunate enough to get there,” Fugler said.
It was the first state championship team for Donnie Daye, who was in his first year at Ferriday after moving from Sunset, La., where he played 6-man football in junior high.
“I was still trying to figure out where you put 11 players,” Daye said. “But that was a special group and a good glimpse of what was to come.”
Brasher would go into coaching, assisting at Arkansas
Brasher returned to his hometown of El Dorado to coach high school football as an assistant for one year.
Brashier was named defensive line coach for Philadelphia in 1985, then moved on to the Atlanta Falcons until 1989. After this he went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to coach for one year in 1990. He coached the Seattle Seahawks defensive line from 1992-1998. Then he went back to the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999, until 2005, when he retired.
“Oddly enough, my middle brother, Steve, graduated from Northeast Louisiana and his first coaching job was at Delhi, where Billy Calvert was the head coach,” Brasher said. “I remember so much more about Coach Robertson’s coaching than I do my playing. I think that the biggest value that it was to me was Coach ‘Red’s’ coaching and what it meant to me during my 41 years of coaching. I remember everything about his coaching, and how much I hung on every word, and what a great source of pride if you were lucky enough to ever extract a compliment from him.”