Friday, July 2, 2010

Most underrated SEC QB ever ? Tommy, by Pharr

As July 4th rolls around, football practice and therefore football season is that much closer. For weeks now, football magazines with their pre-season predictions have been on the shelves. Those predicitions and guides include not only team capsules and projected conference and national rankings ,but All-Conference selections,too. The Southeastern Conference has had some of the greatest names in the sport play at its member schools at all positions. The SEC is certainly not lacking in star quality, especially at quarterback. The SEC has had four quarterbacks win the Heisman, Pat Sullivan at Auburn and three from Florida -- Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffell and Tim Tebow. The conference has also had many other QB's who were All-SEC and went on to, or have gone on to All-Pro careers like LSU's Bert Jones and Tennessee's Peyton Manning.

Of course, they were all named first team All-SEC sometime during their SEC days. Not all first team All-SEC quarterbacks went on to All-Pro careers such as Alabama's Jeff Rutledge and Steadman Shealy as well as Georgia's Buck Belue who led their teams to National Titles. Some like Vanderbilt's Whit Taylor in '82 led his team to its first winning season in seven years. Auburn's Randy Campbell led the Tigers to their first SEC title in 26 years in 1983.

1968 was projected to be a big year for offense in the SEC led by two time All-SEC and Heisman candidate Larry Smith of Florida and high profile sophomore QBs Archie Manning, Mike Cavan and Scott Hunter. Tommy Pharr received only modest pre-season discussion.

But 1968 was a wide open, colorful season. The conference season started with the defending SEC Champion (Tennessee) tying the eventual SEC champion (Georgia) 17-17 on a two point conversion after time had expired, and the conference season ended with the AP first team All-SEC quarterback's team tying the following season's AP first team All-SEC quarterback's team 17-17 .Tommy Pharr of winless Mississippi State was named AP first team All-SEC in 1968. The Bulldogs posted an 0-8-2 mark. The Bullies failed to win a game, yet their quarterback was first team All-SEC. And,deservedly so. Pharr had a tremendous season in '68. Some first team selections , regardless of position, seem like their season ending selection was due more to pre-season hype, or carry over from the prior year.

Not Pharr. Mississippi State was 1-9 in 1967 and while Pharr did lead the Bulldogs in passing in '67, his season total was a mere 267 yards . To emphasize how bad State , and its offense in particular, was in 1967, in LSU's 55-0 win over State, the Tigers' 55 points in that one game was more than State scored all season, 49.

Tommy Pharr (left) was named AP First Team All-SEC QB despite playing for a team that didn't win a game in 1968. Sammy Milner (right) was also named first team All-SEC. Brenda Wiygul was named Miss Hospitality (by the Mississippi Legislature,not the AP) as the three participate in State's "Dairy Month".

In the 1968 pre-season, Auburn's Loran Carter was seen by many as the front runner for All-SEC Quarterback. Pharr and Florida's Larry Rentz were the only two returning quarterbacks that had started a majority of games for their team. Several highly regarded sophomores (four seasons before freshman eligibility) were to take the helm as starting quarterback in their first varsity start such as Georgia's Mike Cavan, Alabama's Scott Hunter and the biggest name, Ole Miss' Archie Manning.

While Mississippi State was hoping to improve on its 1-9 mark in 1967, State's 1968 schedule was going to be pretty rugged. All of State's five 'traditional' SEC opponents had winning seasons the year before, their "appointed conference" team, Texas Tech (so State could comply with the SEC's requirment of six SEC games -- LSU had two appointed games in '68) defeated Texas in 1967 in Austin. Two weeks later Texas defeated Oklahoma giving the Sooners their only loss of the season. State would entertain Florida State that season,too. The Seminoles were a ways from the juggernaut they became in the mid to late 1980's, but the mid to late 1960's 'Noles were a good football team having played in back to back bowl games in 1966 and 1967. The three teams on Mississippi State's schedule which looked like good candidates for a win or two were no pushover ,themselves. Louisiana Tech and Tampa were two of the better teams in what was referred to as the NCAA's 'College Division' which was somewhat similar to today's "1-AA".

The remaining non-conference foe was state foe Southern Mississippi in what would be legendary coach Thad "Pie" Vann's final season. Vann's defenses were some of the best in America, affectionatley know in Hattiesburg as "The Vandals". While the 1960's were starting to lean more towards offensive football (as one of State's '67 opponents not on the '68 schedule,Houston would score 100 on Tulsa that fall), defense was the kingpin throughout the decade of the 1960's. Alabama, Arkansas and Michigan State all had some great defenses in the '60's, and each led the nation in total defense at some time that decade. Nonetheless, Southern Mississippi led the nation in total defense in the 1960's three times.

For State and second year head coach Charley Shira, accustomed to winning big having come to Starkville after 10 years as an assistant for Darrell Royal and Texas ,including a National Title in 1963, 1968 started off the same way 1967 ended nine times: a loss. Future NFL Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw led college division power Louisiana Tech to a 20-13 comeback win in Starkville. Bradshaw hit high school teammate Tommy Spinks on a 37 yard scoring pass late in the game after Louisiana Tech had tied it up two minutes earlier, 13-13. MSU's Pharr had a good game mixing running (State's leading rusher as well as passer in 1967) and passing leading the Maroons to a 13-10 fourth quarter lead,but it wasn't enough.Tech would go on to win the Grantland Rice Bowl in Murfreesboro, Tn with a 33-13 win over Akron as the NCAA college division "Mideast" champion.

                 1968 started out with a 20-13 loss to Terry Bradshaw and Louisiana Tech
Game two was in Jackson at Mississippi Memorial Stadium vs Auburn in game one of a double header which would showcase Ole Miss super soph Archie Manning starting his first game in the state of Mississippi later that day vs Kentucky. Auburn had shut out State in the last two meetings but came into Jackson 0-1 after a surprising 37-28 home loss to SMU. Auburn's Loran Carter was the Tigers' returning QB and pre-season All-SEC by some magazines and writers for 1968 after securing the job from now Troy head coach Larry Blakeney, who midway in the '67 season had an errant pitch out intercepted and returned for a td for the lone score in Miami's 7-0 win. Auburn struggled on offense vs the Mustangs in the first three quarters as Shug Jordan played two other quarterbacks in addition to Carter.Dwight Brisendine passed for Auburn's first td and Tommy Traylor tried his hand as well.

Auburn vs Mississippi State was game one of a double-header at Memorial Stadium in Jackson featuring the home state debut of Archie Manning that evening vs Kentucky

Carter got the starting nod in Jackson and Auburn won with ease for its third straight shutout of State, 26-0. Carter was 10 of 18 for 153 before coming out midway in the third quarter as Jordan substituted freely. State moved to the Auburn 8 late in the third,but turned the ball over on downs.Tommy Pharr had an excellent day,though going 22 of 44 for 218 yards.

Game three was Mississippi State's first true road game, a trip to Gainesville to play 4th ranked Florida, who was the overwhelming preseason choice to win their first SEC crown in football. The Gators won by a misleading final of 31-14 that was in doubt until the final 5:03 when Gator sophomore Jack Youngblood kicked 35 yard field goal after Florida had blocked a punt inside the Maroon 45. Youngblood who went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Los Angeles Rams ,was a lightly recruited lineman but could also kick. Youngblood's field goal in his first varsity game two weeks earlier was the difference in Florida's squeaker over Air Force in Tampa.

While Mississippi State lost, the Bulldogs' valiant effort also was the game where their staunt passing game emerged.Sophomore Sammy Milner was flourishing as one of the SEC's best WR's and HB David Smith could pass and catch in addition to running.

With the Gators' Jackie Eckdahl starting in place of Larry Rentz, Florida bolted out to a 21-7 lead in the first quarter. After cutting it to 21-14, Smith hit Milner for a 20 yard halfback pass to the Gator one that looked to tie the game as the fourth period started. However, State was penalized for illegal motion and wound up turning the ball over on downs when Pharr was sacked at the Florida 38.

Pharr, who 14 of 25 for 127 yards, also threw an interception at the Gator 35 to Steve Tannen with a minute left in the game. Florida got its last points with :32 on a Tom Christian 58 yard run.Still, State seemed to be making progress after the impressive showing in Florida.

Whatever progress that took place in Gainesville took about five steps back at Homecoming the following week in Starkville vs Southern Mississippi. USM held off State the previous year 21-14 and brought to town a 2-1 record with the only blemish being a 17-14 loss to Alabama in Mobile in a game where the Southerners held a lead going into the fourth quarter. It was the loss to Southern Miss that started State's losing streak which reached 10 after the loss to Florida.

Southern Miss held the lead for the whole game vs Mississippi State in 1968 getting its biggest win in the series, 47-14. Southern's defense shut down State's running game to defend the Pharr-Milner combo who were leading the SEC in passing and receiving.Mississippi State could only manage 4 total yards rushing as USM was able to sack Pharr several times. Pharr did throw for 213 yards and two touchdowns, but one came with State down 40-7 and his third interception was returned for a touchdown to tack on USM's final points. Southern's own Tommy, Boutwell had quite a game throwing for 206 yards himself. This would be State's worst loss of the season. Oddly enough, in this Pie Vann's final season, it was his only losing season in his 20 yrs in Hattiesburg.
Legendary Southern Miss coach Thad "Pie" Vann suffered his only losing season in his final season in 1968, but his win over Miss State was the Bulldogs' worst loss all season which included games vs five bowl teams

As bad at the game vs Southern Miss was, it was after that game where Pharr's statistics and performances started to be noticed. Pharr led the SEC in completions with 56 and trailed Vanderbilt's John Miller and Georgia's Mike Cavan in passing yardage.

Now State was 0-4 and two of the losses were to be to two of the more 'winnable' games. Next up was #15 and 3-0-1 Texas Tech in Jackson. Whereas State's lone win in '67 came in Lubbock in a 7-3 win over tenth ranked Tech, this one certainly wasn't perceived as winnable. As in 1967, Tech had upset Texas earlier in the season. After losing to Tech in 1967, Texas went 6-4. After losing to Tech in 1968, Texas would go on to win 30 straight games and win a share of two National Titles.(It was in the Longhorns' 31-22 loss to the Red Raiders that Darrell Royal removed quarterback Bill Bradley for seldom used James Street after Bradley's fumbling and interceptions got Texas in a quick 21-0 hole. Street,running Texas' new offense, the wishbone, started the rest of his career and didn't lose again.)

Under the lights in Jackson, Texas Tech scored first to go up 7-0. But State got its offense going led by Pharr in the second quarter . Using draws and short passes to ends Milner and Smith, State lulled Tech to sleep with a pitchout by Pharr to Smith who then threw one 80 yards to Milner for a touchdown. The Bulldogs went on to score two more touchdowns in the second to take a 21-7 lead at the break.

                  They didn't win, but State didn't lose either to a top twenty Texas Tech team

State's defense started to wear down, and Tech's started to buck up as the Red Raiders tied the game 28 all in the fourth. But State rose up in the final minutes to stop Tech on downs at the State 27 yard line. Pharr was 15 of 27 for 204 yards as State's valiant effort came up short.For the second year in a row, State didn't lose to Texas Tech, but unfortunately, they didn't win ,either.(Oddly enough, Mississippi State defeated Texas Tech 30-26 in '69.)
Darrell Royal and the Texas Longhorns lost to Texas Tech in 1968 and then won 30 straight games and two National Titles.Three weeks later the Red Raiders couldn't defeat Pharr and Mississipppi State(whom Royal coached in 1954 and 1955)

Next up were the Tampa Spartans at Tampa Stadium. On the surface a road game vs Tampa seemed like a step down, or at least a road game an SEC wouldn't take. But the Spartans were trying to revamp their program and take it to bona-fide Division I status. Tampa had been competing in a sort of hybrid, nomadic fashion for sometime playing teams from major conferences, or independents as well as teams which would be considered today as Division 1-AA. Tampa had taken the first step towards being 'big time' with the completion of Tampa Stadium the year before and the dedication game against eventual SEC Champion and second ranked Tennessee in a 38-0 loss to the Vols. Tampa was also providing a training ground for future head coaches in major conferences. Future Vanderbilt coach Fred Pancoast coached the Spartans in the early 60's, Bill Fulcher spent one year in '71 as coach before replacing Bud Carson at Georgia Tech, and Earle Bruce followed Fulcher, also for one year before replacing Johnny Majors at Iowa State, in 1972 leading Tampa to its one and only bowl , a win over Kent State in the Tangerine Bowl. The Tampa head coach in 1968 vs Mississippi State was Fran Curci, who after a stop at Miami (Fla) would coach Kentucky from 1973-1981.

Official game program from Tampa Stadium dedication game vs Tennessee in 1967. Tampa's home game vs Pharr and State in '68 outdrew the game with the Big Orange.

0-4-1 State took the field that night as a slight favorite over 4-1 Tampa. State's tough schedule and tough games against Florida and Texas Tech plus Tampa hadn't won before against an SEC team led to the point spread. The Spartans' lone loss at the time was to Cincinnati, who oddly enough had also tied Texas Tech, whom the Bullies had tied a week earlier. A crowd of over 23,000 , slighty 2,000 more than the Vols' appearance a year earlier, saw a wild game with Tampa coming from behind and the holding off Mississippi State, 24-17.

Tampa was led by quarterback Jim Del Gaizo, an otherwise obscure player with a colorful career.Del Gaizo transfered to Tampa with his twin brother, John, from Syracuse and went on to a brief NFL career where he backed up Bob Griese and Earl Morrall in the Miami Dolphins' perfect season in 1972 where Del Gaizo was reunited with Syracuse teammate Larry Csonka.While Del Gaizo was indeed looking to transfer, it was necessitated 10 days before the Orangemen's 1966 Gator Bowl game vs Tennessee when Syracuse coach Ben Schwartzwalder found out Del Gaizo had contacted Miami about transferring.Shortly after arriving on the Tampa campus in early 1967, he was arrested in Tampa for indecent exposure where upon the university suspended and later re-admitted him.

Tommy Pharr was 19 of 32 on the night for 227 yards as State led 17-10 midway in the fourth quarter. But Del Gaizo threw for his second touchdown with 6:31 left to cut the lead to one. A pass for a two point conversion was successful as Tampa led 18-17. After an interception, Tampa scored again,but missed their kick to make the score the eventual final, 24-17. State wasn't done yet. With time winding down the Bulldogs tried to pull it out. On the last play of the game Pharr hit David Smith for a long gainer down to the Spartan 11 as time expired.

Next up was a trip over to Tuscaloosa to face Alabama and Bear Bryant for the Tide's homecoming. Alabama was 4-2 with its two losses by two points to Ole Miss in Jackson and by one point to Tennessee in Knoxville. Alabama scored with relative ease on its first posession going up 7-0 with 10:01 left in the opening quarter. But State used field position with a punt and punt return to score its first score. Pharr hit Sammy Milner on a 27 yd pass to the Alabama one where State punched it in on the next play only to miss its extra point.

With State down 20-6 at halftime, Pharr and Milner hooked up once again this time for an eight yard touchdown pass as Pharr got behind Alabama's secondary. But basically Alabama held State's dynamic passing tandem in check with Milner only catching 4 passes for a total of 52 yards.

In a 7 point loss at Gator Bowl Bound Alabama, Pharr broke Jackie Parker's total offense mark

During the game Pharr established a new Mississippi State season record for individual total offense as his 170 yards of passing and 35 yards running for 205 total, pushed his season total to 1339 breaking Jackie Parker's record.Milner's touchdown completed the game's scoring as Alabama won 20-13. In a seemingly innocuous moment in the fourth quarter, but a precursor to a very controversial call two weeks later, Alabama was given five downs on one possesion but failed to score and no one really understood what had happened.

Pharr had topped the SEC in passing yardage and Archie Manning had taken the top spot in total offense after an impressive showing with 345 total yards in Ole Miss' last minute comeback win in Baton Rouge.

Next up was Florida State coming to Starkville with a 4-2 record and what would be at season's end the Seminoles' third straight bowl game, a game in Atlanta vs LSU in the inaugral Peach Bowl. Florida State only started playing football in 1947 and began playing 'major teams' in the mid 1950's but had turned into a very formidable 'Southern Independent' at the time.

Tommy Pharr and Florida State's Bill Cappleman put on quite an arial show on a damp,chilly afternoon at Scott Field. Pharr not only had his career passing high in this game, but on two occassions returned kickoffs for the Maroons, one occassion resulting in a 43 yard return after taking a handoff from David Smith on a reverse and 39 on another reverse from a handoff from Smith . Florida State got up 17-0 early in the second quarter on two Cappleman touchdown passes. State quickly cut the Seminoles' lead to 17-12 at halftime on two Pharr touchdown passes- one to Bobby Gossett and one to Sammy Milner.

Both teams continued to move the ball in the second half and led by All-American WR Ron Sellers, Florida State moved 77 yards to open the third quarter and kicked a field goal by Grant Guthrie to extend its lead to 20-12. State moved the ball, but in addition to Pharr's career high 277 yards of passing and 82 yards of return yardage, he threw five interceptions. Two were in the endzone on passes from the Seminole 21 and 9 yard line thwarting potential scoring drives.

Cappleman threw for one more touchdown for Florida State's final points and also contributed to Mississippi State's final points when he was sacked in the end zone with :40 left in the game. Cappleman threw for 285 yards in the Seminoles' 27-14 win.
Mississippi State's rugged 1968 schedule included back to back games in mid-November against Florida State and LSU who would meet in the inaugral Peach Bowl

Now the 0-7-1 Bulldogs traveled to Baton Rouge to take on the LSU Tigers. State hadn't won in Baton Rouge since 1957 and had been destroyed the prior year, 55-0.But after starting off the 1968 season 3-0 and being ranked #8 in the nation, LSU had hit a wall. First a ranked Miami team walloped LSU 30-0 on a Friday night in Miami. Then after two close wins over a mediocre Kentucky and TCU at home, LSU was to entertain State after back to back heartbreakers to Ole Miss and Alabama.Whereas Tiger Stadium didn't seem like the place State would get its first win, the 5-3 1968 Tigers didn't seem as sharp as the 4-3-1 '67 Tigers who played State. Other than the Southern Miss fiasco, State had hung in for four quarters for every game and had had decent chances for victory or tying score in five of the eight games.

Had instant replay been available for use by officials in 1968, Mississippi State may have gotten its first win of the season . The two went back in forth with LSU leading 14-7 at the break. The Tigers fumbled the second half kickoff giving State good field position and indeed, Pharr hit Smith for a 26 yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to one. The Bulldogs missed the extra point try as LSU held on to the lead.

Later in the quarter, State got to the LSU 2 on first and goal. On second down, Pharr recovered his own fumble back at the 5. Somehow,someway the officials ruled it was 4th down. For a team winless in its first eight games, it was hard to imagine losing a down in a goal to goal situation on the officials' confusion.After the State players and coaches protested to no avail, back up kicker Mike Wade kicked a 22 yard field goal as State took a 16-14 lead into the fourth quarter.

LSU's winning drive wasn't without controversy,at least from those in Maroon,either. Near midfield it appeared State's Al Morrell had intercepted Mike Hillman before falling out of bounds, but the officials ruled Morrell bobbled the ball while stepping out of bounds. With 2:33 left in the game, Hillman ran 11 yards for a touchdown as LSU hung on, 20-16. As Mississippi State fell to 0-8-1, Pharr continued his gutty,valiant effort with 25 completions on 42 attempts as well as 73 yards rushing on 13 carries.

Meanwhile, Pharr's effort on an individual basis over the weekend helped propel him to All-Conference honors as other contenders had rocky weekends.Ole Miss' Archie Manning was having a phenominal sophmore season highlighted by a last minute comeback win in Baton Rouge. With talk before the Rebels-Vols tilt that the winner was headed to the Sugar, a Rebel win and big day by Manning may have earned him All-SEC honors.But on this weekend, Manning threw seven interceptions in a 31-0 loss to Tennessee in Knoxville. (Manning's performance vs the Vols in 1968 led to some ill-timed comments by Vol All-SEC linebacker Steve Kiner about Manning and Ole Miss' 1969 prospects).

Two-time All-American LB Steve Kiner intercepted two of Archie Manning's seven interceptions in the Vols 31-0 win, which effectively eliminated Manning's chances of being named All-SEC. Kiner was rather candid the following summer recalling his opinion of Manning and the Rebels for the media which came back to haunt him and the Big Orange

In Auburn ,with the SEC title on the line in the South's oldest rivalry between Georgia and Auburn, pre-season All-SEC QB Loran Carter hoped to shore up his spot on the All-star squads.Auburn had emerged as a strong team after a wobbly start looking for its first SEC title since 1957.In mid-October, Auburn lost at Legion Field in Birmingham to Georgia Tech (which would turn out to be Auburn's last loss at Legion Field other than to Alabama) in a bizarre ending which got even stranger after the game. Down 21-20, Auburn moved to the Tech 22 yard line with the clock running near one minute left in the game.On second down Auburn coach Shug Jordan sent in normally sure footed place kicker John Riley,who had already made two field goals. Riley hooked the ball left and Tech ran out the clock for an improbable 21-20 upset win.

The official play-by-play account of Auburn's last offensive play prepared by Auburn's sports information staff for use in the pressbox was as follows:"2-9-T22 Field Goal attempt by Riley is no damn good at 57 left." As odd as the Tech game ended, Auburn's fortunes suddenly turned in the next three games which happened to be against ranked teams at the time. Miami, Florida and Tennessee were all thumped by Auburn by an average score of 28-11. The Hurricanes and Vols were ranked in the top ten when Auburn disposed of them.Now a win over number four Georgia would give the Tigers the SEC title.

On a miserable afternoon in Auburn, Georgia won the SEC with a dominating 17-3 win over the Tigers. Loran Carter's hopes of being named All-SEC quarterback took a blow about has hard as he was hit by the Bulldogs. Georgia held Auburn to five first downs and 86 total yards of offense. Carter was 8 of 26 passing for 63 yards and had minus 27 yards rushing. Georgia was led by sophomore quarterback Mike Cavan ,who had an excellent season himself and big day vs Auburn throwing for 168 yards to firm up his first varsity season which started less publicized than Manning's did.

The week of the final week of the SEC, the Associated Press named Tommy Pharr, leading virtually every offensive statistic including total offense, first team All-SEC quarterback. Teammate Sammy Milner was also named to the first team, one of two sophomores on the team. Georgia's Cavan was named second team All-SEC. United Press International named Auburn's Loran Carter ,who was only sixth in total offense,to its first team All-SEC squad. Carter won the UPI award with less than 30% of the vote as Pharr, Cavan, Manning and Tennessee's Bubba Wyche .(Cavan was named AP's first team All-SEC Sophomore team beating out Archie Manning.State flanker David Smith made first team All-Sophomore,as well) Pharr and Milner were also named honorable mention All-America by various services.
Even with well-deserved accolades for Pharr, and Sammy Milner, already announced, there was still one game left on the Bulldogs' schedule: the Ole Miss Rebels. The Rebels entered the regular season finale in Oxford with a 6-3 record and berth in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. With sophomore sensation Archie Manning, the Rebels had had their moments as a solid team with exciting wins over Alabama and LSU but also were easily handled by Georgia, Tennessee and non-conference foe Houston.Still, the Rebels took the field as 20 point favorites.

Win,lose, or tie, Ole Miss was headed to Memphis for the Liberty Bowl vs VPI.Five years earlier, Miss State defeated NC State in the Liberty in the bowl's last season in Philadelphia

But,this was the "Egg Bowl" and while it doesn't receive the national attention as Ohio State-Michigan, Georgia-Florida, or Alabama-Auburn, Mississippi State vs Ole Miss takes a back seat to no one in terms of intensity and emotion, at least in the minds of the players,coaches and fans of the schools. Winless or not, State wasn't going to go down without a fight and indeed State scored on a 37 yard field goal on its first drive after a long opening kickoff return by David Smith.

Miss State held after Ole Miss' first possession,but fumbled the punt giving the Rebels great field position on the Maroon 21 and three plays later Ole Miss went up 7-3.Early in the second quarter, Ole Miss moved from their own 24 to the State 7 on 7 straight Manning completions before the Maroons held. Perry King kicked a short field goal to extend Ole Miss' lead to 10-3. Right before halftime Pharr hit tailback Lynn Zeringue on a 4 yard pass for a touchdown and Robert Culvert's extra point knotted the game up a 10 at halftime.

Earlier in the season in Jackson , John Vaught and Ole Miss defeated fellow legend Bear Bryant and Alabama. But Vaught and the Rebs couldn't defeat Pharr and the Maroons

After a scoreless third quarter, State's All-SEC passing tandem, Pharr to Milner hooked up early in the fourth quarter and Culvert's conversion gave winless Mississippi State a 17-10 over hated bowl bound Ole Miss. But then Archie Manning led the Rebels on a 53 yard scoring drive , a drive that Manning was later quoted as saying "that was one of our more memorable drives at Ole Miss." Manning was 5 of 6 passing for 43 yards and ran the ball three times for 10 yards. A 15 yard pass to Bo Bowen got the ball to the 8.One play later from the Maroon 5,Manning ran off left guard and behind All-SEC sophomore Skip Jernigan for a touchdown.

Down 17-16 to the winless Bulldogs with only 4:14 left, Ole Miss head coach John Vaught sent place kicker Perry King out who converted the point after and the two were tied at 17.Vaught later explained the decision to kick and tie was easy.While many Rebel fans in the stands expressed displeasure as King attempted the kick, Vaught said anything besides a kick,"would have been silly.Had we missed it (the two point try), it would have been a great victory for them." After spending most of the game getting outplayed by State's offense and especially the Maroons' normally maligned offensive line, the Rebels put six men on the defensive line .Instead of the soft defense the Rebs had deployed throughout the game anticipating short passes by Pharr,but instead wound up chasing down runners through and around big holes, the pressure was too much for State and the game ended shortly thereafter in a 17-17 tie.

Statistically, Mississippi State outplayed Ole Miss racking up 23 first downs to Ole Miss' 14. The Bulldogs had 318 total yards to the Rebels' 228 yards. Pharr had another tremendous game solidifying the All-SEC honors earned earlier in the week. In addition to 148 yards passing, he had 48 yards running giving him 1838 yards passing for the season and 239 yards rushing (the second year in a row he led the Bulldogs in passing and rushing) joining Florida's Steve Spurrier as the only player in SEC history to have over 2,000 yards in one season (Spurrier did this in '65 and '66).In the Ole Miss game Pharr broke Spurrier's SEC single season passing attempts with 319 to Spurrier's 315.

Pharr finished the 1968 season number one in total offense becoming only the second player in SEC history to have over 2,000 yards of total offense in one season. Pharr's 2,085 yards trailed only Steve Spurrier's 2111 in 1965 and 2095 in 1966. The competition in '68 was very rugged for individual honors as in addition to Pharr's 2085 yards, for the first time in SEC history three other players in one season had over 1500 total yards, Mike Cavan of SEC Champion Georgia, Ole Miss' Manning and Tennessee's Bubba Wyche. Pharr's recognition as All-Conference was obviously no fluke as such players of stronger, bowl bound teams had outstanding seasons themselves. His 460 total plays in 1968 (141 rushes and 319 passes) broke Spurrier's record of 412 set in 1966 and stayed the SEC record until Vandy's Whit Taylor broke it in 1982.