When practice began this fall, Captain Baughan assembled the Tech squad and laid it down that "we are going to play as a team, not just 11 or 22 men." In the opener with Kentucky he anchored a gorgeous goal-line stand that preserved the Tech victory, stopping the Wildcats a yard away from a first down and four yards from the goal, a stonewall effort that "made" the Tech team, in Dodd's estimate.
"Maxie does the best job of anyone on the field," said the No. 1 offensive quarterback Freddy Braselton the other day. "He inspires everyone to play like he does." (Braselton, by the way, has publicly expressed his shame over "playing more for myself than the team" in 1958 and his rededication to one-for-all football. A Texan himself, he was the hero of Tech's victory over SMU's Don Meredith & Co.)
Bobby Dodd made it perfectly clear that he did not intend to change his famous punt, pounce and proceed style one iota for the men of Auburn.
"I doubt if either team will score more than one touchdown, whether it rains or not, but I hope it doesn't rain. I hate to see rainy football games."
On Saturday morning, as the enemy entrained from Auburn (named by a bookish farmer's daughter who was smitten by the poet Oliver Goldsmith's line, "Auburn, loveliest village of the plain"), a light rain fell from the mists enshrouding Atlanta. Apart from Dodd's well-known distaste for rain, this was considered a favorable omen for Auburn. The Tigers had just whacked Kentucky 33-0 on a soggy day; their brawny linemen were well suited to slogging it out on a muddy field; and anyway, as the Atlanta sportswriter Furman Bisher put it, "Auburn leads the conference in aerial ineffectiveness."
Auburn also led the conference in hurt pride, serving, as it was, the next-to-last season of probation under some of the most drastic penalties for illegal recruiting ever ordered by the NCAA. Its fires of determination were additionally fueled by the fact that Tech had won 11 of the 14 previous games during Bobby Dodd's head-coaching career.
When the tarpaulin on Grant Field had to come up for pregame calisthenics the field became somewhat slick, but the rain stopped before the kick-off and playing conditions were tolerable until the middle of the third quarter.
To say that neither team gambled would be to understate the case violently. J. P. Morgan never selected a stock as carefully as Tech and Auburn played football Saturday. It was a classic exercise in old-fashioned defensive football, with much grunting and shoving between the 30-yard lines and an immoderate number of third-down punts.
Along toward the end of the second quarter, Tech's Billy Shaw pounced on a fumble at the Auburn 18-yard line, and—whammo—the Engineers proceeded to score in four plays. Soph Halfback Chick Graning, who tragically lost his bride in an automobile accident in August and has been gimpy ever since from the injury he suffered, popped up as the newest Tech hero. His 12-yard thrust to the one-yard line paved the way for Braselton's touchdown plunge. Until then it looked like Tech's day, but Tommy Wells thereupon missed his first conversion of the season, and as the second half began Auburn biffed and butted 71 yards for the tying score. This was in defiance of Dodd's Law, which says drives from deep in one's own territory rarely succeed. No law student, young Bobby Hunt guided his team slickly and ran the last six yards himself. A straight-A pre-med student, Ed Dyas, kicked the winning point, and the War Eagle cry rang out.
Soon afterward it began to rain, and now Maxie Baughan and his mates summoned up all their desire. Before a capacity throng of 44,174, huddled under umbrellas in mushroomlike tiers in the stadium and reminiscent of the cemetery scene in the play Our Town, Tech earned two chances for victory. It capitalized on neither, as the vastly unlucky Wells twice failed to kick field goals.