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September 21, 2005

The Galloping Ghost Returns

Ah John, how much you remind me of that legend of yore, that man who could not be touched, could not be caught. He moved with the wind and flew down the field. From Grantland Rice:

A streak of fire, a breath of flame
Eluding all who reach and clutch;
A gray ghost thrown into the game
That rival hands may never touch;
A rubber bounding, blasting soul
Whose destination is the goal.

You can read the ESPN article here on Red Grange.

In his first game, Grange scored three touchdowns, including a 66-yard punt return, against Nebraska in 1923. In seven games as a sophomore he ran for 723 yards (5.6 average) and scored 12 touchdowns in leading unbeaten Illinois to the consensus national championship.

Not until the Michigan game on Oct. 18, 1924, did Grange reach legendary status. He returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. Then he scored on runs of 67, 56 and 44 yards. All this in the first 12 minutes. The four touchdowns were as many as Michigan had allowed in the two previous seasons.

Tired, he took a rest. But he came back to run 11 yards for a fifth touchdown and passed 20 yards for a sixth score as Illinois won 39-14 to end Michigan's 20-game unbeaten streak. He totaled an amazing 402 yards -- 212 rushing, 64 passing and 126 on kickoff returns.

As a senior, in a 24-2 upset of Penn in Philadelphia, Grange rushed for a career-high 237 yards, including touchdown runs of 56 and 13 yards, through ankle-deep mud. With rumors of Grange turning pro swirling, he helped Illinois win its season-finale, 14-9 over Ohio State. In his 20-game career, he ran 388 times for 2,071 yards (5.3 average), caught 14 passes for 253 yards and completed 40 of 82 passes for 575 yards. Of his 31 touchdowns, 16 were from at least 20 yards, with nine from more than 50.

And so what is so fabulous about the Great Galloping Ghost right now? Well, John Roberts of course. Swift of foot, can't be caught, like the wind. He stands before your eyes, you lunge to tackle him and he is gone, your arms grabbing nothing but air. One man, two men, a whole room of men and none can manage to difficult task of bringing him down. As a defender you hate and admire his vast array of skills. He is the likes of which we seldom see, a shimmering ghost before our eyes. He is right before us, yet we cannot truly describe what we see. I watch in awe at his shifts, his wiggles, and shimmies. How can we deny him his goal?

Posted by Chip Spear at September 21, 2005 2:28 PM


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