Happy Anniversary, Earthquake Game

Today marks the 20th anniversary of LSU’s 7-6 win over Auburn in Tiger Stadium in what would become known as the Earthquake Game. If you’re reading this, you probably know all about the game, but LSU has the story should you require, and CBS has a video:

The moment has stood the test of time to earn a permanent place in Tiger football lore. It’s an exclusive group of plays – Billy Cannon’s punt return against Ole Miss and Bert Jones and Brad Davis’ last-second touchdown to beat Ole Miss are the other moments which are still fresh in the minds of LSU fans decades down the road.

Others may someday join the group, with last year’s surprise Flynn to Byrd touchdown pass with four seconds remaining to beat Auburn likely leading the contenders. But only time will tell.

For me, of course, the difference between Billy Cannon’s run or Bert Jones’ pass and the Earthquake Game is that this one was in my era. I was there, sitting in the student section right above the play. And the pandemonium that followed the touchdown was, indeed, something different and special. Many of us ended up a row or two in front of where we had been sitting and more than a few well-lubricated souls took full tumbles down into their fellow students below.

When everything settled down, there was a pair of Ray-Ban aviators lying on the bench next to where I ended up, which I claimed for myself. I have to think the transfer of shaken-off personal possessions that night was not insignificant.

And like just about every other LSU student, I made my way over to the seismology office in the geology building the next week to see the printout of the big shake they had taped up in the window.

Had the fine folks in the seismology office not publicized their finding, this game likely would have been just another nail-biter finish, and not permanent LSU lore. And truth be told, LSU fans shake the earth most every Saturday night, so the Auburn reading is not unique.

But lore doesn’t just come from a moment being extraordinary or ultimately really significant. LSU ended up 8-4 in 1988 and as SEC co-champion played in the Hall of Fame Bowl. The Earthquake Game was a spectacular moment in an unspectacular year. Of course, Bert Jones and company finished 1972 in the Bluebonnet Bowl and Ole Miss fans will tell you the timekeeper added back a couple of ticks to make the last-second touchdown possible.

Billy Cannon, of course, won himself the Heisman Trophy and stuck it to then-heated rival Ole Miss to score the only Tiger points in a matchup of the No. 1 Tigers and No. 3 Rebels. That his punt return overshadows the fact that LSU’s defense stopped Ole Miss with a goal-line stand at the end of the game to preserve the win shows that the “moment of lore” is something more than just a significant play. Cannon, who was also in on the final tackle on the goal-line stand (along with my one-time orthopedic surgeon Dr. Bo Strange), was LSU’s greatest star. And the punt return was his greatest moment – and the second most significant thing to happen in the game.

It’s still a cool run, though:

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4 Responses to “Happy Anniversary, Earthquake Game”

  1. TCL says:

    Hey, I went to Bo Strange too. Did we know that?

    Of course, I bet every parent in BR, upon opening the phone book to Orthopedic Surgeon, picked Bo Strange out of the rest of the hoi polloi.

  2. Cap'n Ken says:

    I don’t think we knew that. I imagine Rolfe McCollister (big Rolfe) picked our our doctors … he controlled everything.

    Who was your dentist? I forget the guy’s name, but it was over there off Goodwood by the former airport.

  3. TCL says:

    I don’t remember my dentist. I didn’t have an orthodontist, but my brothers and sisters sure as hell didn’t go to Billy Cannon after the powder he took when he and my Dad invested together in the silkscreen T-shirt company. You knew about that one, I believe.

  4. TCL says:

    And by the way, is it possible that those Ray Bans belonged to Simone from the Bengal, who I took to the game that night? I have some vague recollection of us discussing this before, perhaps even then, and deciding yeah, you should keep ‘em. But I might be thinking of something else.

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