» Subscribe Today!
The Power of Information
The Ledger - EST. 1978 - Nashville Edition
Skip Navigation LinksHome > Article
VOL. 38 | NO. 37 | Friday, September 12, 2014

‘Swamp Rat’ still thinks Vols had game-winning kick vs. Oklahoma in ’68 Orange Bowl

Print | Front Page | Email this story

Dewey "Swamp Rat" Warren

-- Submitted Photograph Courtesy Of Ut Athletics

KNOXVILLE – University of Tennessee quarterback Dewey “Swamp Rat” Warren stood on the field during a timeout with a few seconds left in the Jan. 1, 1968 Orange Bowl.

Warren was the holder for UT place-kicker Karl Kremser, who lined up for a 43-yard field goal attempt against Oklahoma. The Sooners led, 26-24.

UT (9-1) was ranked No. 2 in the nation, Oklahoma (9-1) No. 3. A big season was on the line for both teams.

Not once, but twice did the Sooners call timeout in an attempt to ice Kremser.

“But no problem for him,” Warren recalls. “He and I sat there and talked.”

And then it was time for Kremser’s kick.

Warren took the snap from center, heard the sound of Kremser’s bare foot snap into the football, and watched it sail into Miami’s night sky.

To this day, 46 years later, Warren claims the field goal by Kremser was good, and the Vols should have won the 1968 Orange Bowl, 27-26.

Instead, officials ruled Kremser’s kick wide right, and Oklahoma won, 26-24.

“Back then, the bars (uprights) wasn’t that high,” Warren explains.

“When he kicked the ball, he drawled it a little bit, and it stayed right there, and it went right over (the upright). We didn’t have instant replay, but I’ll be honest with you. I thought it was good, and he thought it was good.

“But what are you going to say? I mean, the official called it no good, and if it’s no good, it’s no good.”

In 1967, the polls – including the major polls, Associated Press and United Press International – voted their national champions after the regular season, before the bowl games.

Both the AP and UPI voted for University of Southern California, which was led by running back O.J. Simpson. The Trojans, ranked No. 1 entering the bowls, finished 10-1 after beating Indiana 14-3 in the 1968 Rose Bowl (Simpson scored both touchdowns).

UT was 9-2 after the loss to Oklahoma, but got a share of the national title after being voted No. 1 in the old Litkenhous poll.

Dewey "Swamp Rat" Warren

Kremser kicked another season for the Vols, who went 8-2-1 in 1968 after a 36-13 loss to Texas in the Jan. 1, 1969 Cotton Bowl.

But Warren’s career as a Vol ended with Kremser’s kick in the Orange Bowl.

“I hated it for Karl because Karl’s such a great kicker,” Warren says.

“I called him a sidewinder. I could always tell by the sound if he hit it good. When his foot hit the ball, and boy, he could kick it, he must have kicked it 20 rows up the stands that night. But that’s life.”

Warren, who lives in Knoxville, will be watching Saturday night when the Vols (2-0) play No. 4-ranked Oklahoma (2-0) in Norman, Okla.

It’s the first game between the two schools since the 1968 Orange Bowl, and just the third time the teams have played. UT beat Oklahoma 17-0 in the 1938 Orange Bowl.

Warren would certainly be considered a Vol For Life.

He came to Knoxville from Savannah, Ga., where he picked up the nickname “Swamp Rat” from a high school coach after getting to practice a few minutes late. He’s followed his alma mater’s football team through all these years, the good and the bad.

Nothing would make Warren happier than to see the Vols of old, like the ’67 team coached by Doug Dickey.

“Here’s the thing about our teams that I played on, because I played with some great guys: It didn’t matter who scored,” Warren says.

“It didn’t matter who intercepted a pass, who threw the pass, who caught the pass, who ran it, it didn’t matter. As long as at the end of the game, we were winning.

“That was the whole attitude of the guys. Everybody played together.

“We knew it was a team of no one person. Everybody chipped in, and I think that’s what made that ’67 team so darn good, because we didn’t have no superstars.

“We had some great players, but everybody just did their job, and I think that’s what really made that team special,” he adds.

The 1967 UT roster included All-American center Bob Johnson (out of nearby Cleveland); linebackers Jack Reynolds (Cincinnati) and Steve Kiner (Tampa); fullback Richard Pickens (Knoxville); tight end Ken DeLong (Norfolk, Virginia); receivers Mike Price (Knoxville) and Gary Kreis (Oliver Springs); and quarterback Bubba Wyche (Atlanta).

Warren with a young Condredge Holloway on the practice field.

It was a season that didn’t get off to the greatest of starts. In a night game at Los Angeles Memorial Stadium, UCLA beat the Vols 20-16.

Warren’s next game didn’t go much better. He suffered a knee injury in the second half of a 27-13 victory over Auburn at Neyland Stadium, and missed the next week’s game, a 24-13 home win over Georgia Tech.

“I had a big first half against Auburn, and a guy takes a cheap shot on my knee and it stiffens up, so I go out,” Warren remembers.

“Then I miss the next game, which is the Georgia Tech game. I miss it, and I don’t play, and Bubba Wyche comes in and does a great job, and we go to Alabama the next week.

“Well, I’m back, and Bubba starts the game, and he puts on a dadgum show. I mean, he absolutely just ridicules ’em, and gets after ’em, and the defense plays good, and we win the game in Birmingham. I didn’t play. I just held for extra points and field goals. That’s all I did.”

UT’s 24-13 victory at Legion Field ended Alabama’s 25-game winning streak and fueled the Vols heading into an Oct. 28 game against LSU at Neyland Stadium.

Dickey still had Wyche as the starting quarterback against LSU. Not a problem for Warren.

“Bubba was playing too good,” Warren says. “Bubba and I were best of friends, and he was really playing good. We would talk on the sideline and things like that when he’d come off the field. Then the next game was LSU.

“He bogs down, I go in and score the winning touchdown, so I get my job back.”

Warren’s touchdown run on a designed pass play gave the Vols a 17-14 victory, and the two quarterbacks had a funny exchange in the locker room.

“I told Bubba: ‘You weren’t going to let me have my job back,’ and we laughed about it,’ ” Warren says.

The victory put UT at No. 3 in the Associated Press poll, and the Vols moved to No. 2 after a 38-0 victory at Tampa on Nov. 4.

UT stayed at No. 2 behind USC, winning its last four games of the regular season: Tulane (35-14), Ole Miss (20-7), Kentucky (17-7) and Vanderbilt (41-14).

It was a run that set up the 1968 Orange Bowl against a potent Oklahoma offense averaging 26.4 points per game and led by All-American tackle Bob Kalsu, junior quarterback Bobby Warmack and sophomore halfback Steve Owens, who would go on to win the 1969 Heisman Trophy and become the Detroit Lions’ first 1,000-yard rusher.

Warren was no secret, either.

His numbers as the Vols’ three-year starting quarterback were staggering: almost 3,200 career yards and 27 touchdowns.

Plus, he’d been MVP of the Vols’ two previous bowls, an 18-12 victory against Syracuse – with future NFL running backs Larry Csonka and Floyd Little – in the 1966 Gator Bowl, and a 27-6 victory against Tulsa in the 1965 Bluebonnet Bowl.

“Oklahoma was a good football team and had some great players,” Warren says. “Granville Liggins was a nose tackle, and we had a hard time blocking him. It was just a great game.”

Not in the first half.

Oklahoma took a 19-0 lead into the locker room after a 7-yard run by Warmack, a 20-yard touchdown pass from Warmack to Eddie Hinton, and a 1-yard run by Warmack.

“Here’s the whole deal,” Warren explains of the Vols’ first half. “Not that we weren’t trying. We couldn’t get anything going offensively, for whatever reason, and they had put a whole different offense in the first half of that game.

“They were running bootlegs and things like that, and our defense was lost. At halftime, we went back out and did the same things we did all along. Well, they went back to running the offense that the defense had prepared for.”

Momentum quickly turned.

UT’s Jimmy Glover returned an interception 36 yards for a touchdown, and Kremser’s PAT kick made it 19-7. With 5:07 left in the third, UT’s Charley Fulton scored on a 5-yard run, and the Vols trailed 19-14 after Kremser’s kick.

Kremser’s 26-yard field goal early in the fourth cut the deficit to 19-17. The Vols got the ball back for the potential go-ahead possession, but Bob Stephenson’s 25-yard interception return for a touchdown led to a 26-17 Sooners lead.

UT and Warren responded with a 77-yard touchdown drive, with Warren scoring on a 1-yard run. Kremser’s kick made it 26-24 with 4:05 left.

The Sooners gambled on their next possession. Facing a fourth-and-1 situation in their own territory, the Sooners went for the first down, and Owens was stopped short.

UT got the ball back with 1:43 left. With 7 seconds left, Kremser lined up for the field goal, and as time ran out, the officials signaled the kick wide right.

Warren remembers it like yesterday. Kremser’s kick looked good to him.

“It’s really strange when I look back on the ‘67 year because we did win the SEC (6-0) and won part of the national championship,” Warren says.

“We lose the first game against UCLA at night. We lose the last game against Oklahoma at night, and we win nine in between. I always look at things like that.

“Not that I’m superstitious, but you always kind of go back and say, ‘Gosh, we had UCLA beat and lost in the Coliseum, and we come back and win nine straight and win the conference, and lose to Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl 26-24, and it’s at night.

“It is what it is. We didn’t win.”

Dave Link is a freelance journalist living in Knoxville.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter & RSS:
Sign-Up For Our FREE email edition
Get the news first with our free weekly email
TNLedger.com Knoxville Editon