Did TCU's Johnny Crouch really give back a touchdown in 1954 that kept OU's win streak alive?

Like most things that now live in dusty history books and the memories of old men, legend and truth make for a cloudy mix. The fact is, the wrong Frog might be the honored hero in a legendary story of good sportsmanship that helped preserve the Sooners' record win streak.
by Berry Tramel Modified: November 29, 2012 at 7:59 pm •  Published: November 29, 2012
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But the act that made Crouch famous was a diving catch in the middle of the game. It occurred in either the second quarter, with TCU up 2-0 (Oklahoman archives), or the third quarter, with OU leading 7-2 (Harold Keith's 47 Straight).

Field judge Don Rossi immediately signaled touchdown. But linesman J. Earl Schlupp ran over and signaled incomplete.

That's where, legend has it, Crouch went all George Washington and admitted he trapped the ball. Except Crouch's TCU teammates say Crouch argued otherwise.

“Been so many stories about that,” said then-TCU quarterback Ronnie Clinkscale. “Johnny was a rough and tumble type of ballplayer. He would not be hesitant to not tell the truth.”

That's when TCU tackle Ray Hill, a Marine veteran, rambled up to Crouch.

“Crouch was arguing with the official,” said then-TCU fullback Buddy Dike. “Ray Hill punched him and said, he didn't catch it.”

Crouch came clean. “Yeah,” he said. “I didn't catch it.”

So yes, Crouch fessed up. With some cajoling.

Swink goes a little easy on Crouch.

“It was a good act of sportsmanship,” Swink said. “He deserves the credit. I was in the end zone. I saw the play. He caught it on the first bounce.”

The game's drama was still to come. Harris' punt return for a touchdown wiped out TCU's 2-0 lead. The Frogs drove to two touchdowns for a 16-7 advantage.

OU struggled against TCU's surprising 4-4 defense, with 10 fumbles, five lost.

The Sooners, trying to extend a 10-game winning streak that eventually would reach 47, scored twice in the final 10 minutes.

Then on the game's final play, Clinkscale was dragged down at the OU 7-yard line.

Awesome game. One of the best ever at Owen Field.

“Hell of a football game,” said Dan Jenkins, who covered the game for the Fort Worth Press and went on to be a decorated writer for Sports Illustrated.

Jenkins says he doesn't remember the Crouch play as “being anything that important. I remember TCU should have won the game.”

For almost six decades Johnny Crouch's honesty has been credited with OU's victory. Rest easy, Captain Crouch. You're off the hook.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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