Remembering a Big Kick In USC History

If you were a USC fan old enough to follow the Trojans in the 1950’s, you remember kicker Sam Tsagalakis, who died Saturday at age 88.

He was nicked “Sad Sam” because he rarely smiled but he was the hero of USC’s victory over Stanford in 1953.

With 13 seconds left, Tsagalakis kicked a 38-yard-field goal to give the No. 17-ranked Trojans a 23-20 victory over No. 11-ranked Stanford. It was just the second game-winning field goal in USC history.

USC coach Jess Hill said Tsagalakis was crying at halftime because he missed an extra point in the first half that accounted for the tie score (20-20) late in the game.

USC trailed 20-13, but QB George Bozanic threw a 26-yard TD pass to wide receiver Tom Nickoloff that tied the score.

Stanford recovered a fumble in USC territory with two minutes left and might have won but Ron Miller intercepted a pass and returned it 50 yards to the Stanford 20, which set up the field goal.

On a side note, two weeks earlier, after USC beat Cal, Miller went on a blind date with fellow USC student, Diane Disney, the daughter of Walt Disney.

They were married in 1954 and Miller became CEO of the Walt Disney Co. from 1980-84.

The USC win overshadowed a big game by Stanford QB Bob Garrett of San Marino. Garrett completed 20 of 31 passses for 324 yards, which was a Pacific Coast Conference and USC-opponent record.

Sam Tsagalakis is carried off the field by his teammates after kicking the game-winning field goal against Stanford.

15 thoughts on “Remembering a Big Kick In USC History

    1. Off point –but I met Diane Disney and Ron Miller at the Disney Family Museum in San Francisco —and they couldn’t have been nicer. Diane did beautiful job with the Museum. It was a labor of love—and I’m sure Walt would have been proud of her for the hard work and dedication that went into making it happen.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well ….I was hoping I wouldn’t have to reveal this …BUT…. Walt actually appeared to me in a vision and told me he was proud of Diane…..


    2. Yeah, back then O lineman had to block–they couldn’t hold pass rushers.
      DB’s could mug the WR all the way downfield until the ball was thrown.

      Damn….them’s were the days!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Back then you could get into SC with a B- grade point average, so I imagine Diana Disney did not have to dip into Walt’s treasure for any relief.

      .Stanford was always a passing team until it became a balanced power team in the 2000s. If you don’t have the right Uglies up front, you are left with passing only, such as SC has become.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. How about the Kick Ron Ayala made in the Coliseum to beat Stanford and Jim Plunkett with no time remaining. That was a tremendous game. I believe it was 1969

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Ron Ayala was a tremendous football player. Not very big 5 ft. 9 inches but he was very gutty player. Started as a safety also as a senior, and wow he could hit, and had a nose for the ball. Very clutch kicker also.
    He was not a blue chip recruit, but Mckay had a way of finding, and importantly developing the maximum amount of talent in each player.
    I don’t think Clay Helton would have been selected to be an assistant under Mckay. He would have also sent Graham Harrell and his air raid on the first bus out of town, or recommend they both apply for jobs at a Junior College or UCLA. Coach believed in physical, fast players, and as we all know run the football first to control the clock on each possession, and give the defense time to rest and make adjustments. Would his formula work today……….absolutely just watch Alabama, and Clemson. Mckay, was a genius but used his assistants to teach, and follow his orders or else.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. So on point, tommyd. John McKay would have seen straight through Clay’s holy roller bullshit……

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When asked how he felt about coaching against all those Catholics at Notre Dame, McKay had some glib retort about how USC had more catholics on the team than Parseghian.

        No, I’m not subborning a long thread of great McKayisms,

        Liked by 1 person

    1. U idiot,

      Where was the fake news when BLM, antifas, and the rest of the paid gang of Soros were buring down Seattle, Portland, Washington, Wisconsin, and looting and rioting in LA? They were supporting the anarchy. Stick it in your ear.


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