Wednesday Duckstory: 1963 Sun Bowl


This week’s Duckstory is much more fun to write because I get to write about a win!  The Sun Bowl itself had been in existence for the previous 28 years but the Sun Bowl stadium was finished for play in 1963.  The 1963 Sun Bowl was the first Sun Bowl game played in the newly built 30,000 person capacity field and Oregon will always be the first victorious team.  The game was played against Southern Methodist and the Ducks would end up coming out with the 21 – 14 victory.

The 1963 Ducks team was a force.  Still led by Len Casanova, they were a dangerous combination of a stellar offense coupled with a powerful defense.   Over the course of the season the offense put 274 points on the board and the defense only allowed 153 points.  The highest score put up by any of their opponents that year was from Washington with 26 points.  They finished the season 8 – 3 and three players went in the 1964 NFL draft; Mel Renfro, Dave Wilcox and Bob Berry.  Their performance during the season got them an invite to the 1963 Sun Bowl and they came ready to play.  During the first half of the game the nation’s fourth-ranked offense was the shining star and then the defense came in powerful during the second half to secure the win.  Let’s look at the game quarter-by-quarter…

First Quarter:

Oregon’s first score of the game came in the first quarter on an interception from the defense.  The interception led to a 49-yard run and then was put in the end zone by the Duck’s offense.  This interception by H.D. Murphy, and his second interception both assisted in scoring the Duck’s first touchdown and stopping a potential SMU touchdown.

Second Quarter:

The Ducks scored their second and third touchdowns in the second quarter.  The Ducks went 65 yards in 8 plays culminating in Bob Berry putting the ball in the end zone.  By the time the second quarter was finished the Ducks had put up one more touchdown, a throw from Berry to Paul Burleson.  This would be the last Oregon score for the game.  Going into halftime Oregon looked phenomenal with a 21 – 0 lead over SMU but then the tides turned.

Third Quarter:

The second half of the game was all about SMU offense.  The Duck’s offense would remain quiet while the Mustangs started to make a little noise.  None of this would come to fruition until the fourth quarter though.  The Duck’s defense were able to stop a potential Mustang touchdown on the one-yard line so no scores from either team during the third.

Fourth Quarter:

During the beginning of the fourth quarter everything seemed to be going smoothly for the Ducks.  Then during the last 10 minutes of the games things changed.  SMU made a successful drive with three tosses of the ball to score 6 points for the Mustangs.  They would try for a two-point conversion that failed, ending up in the hands of an Oregon player.  Their second touchdown came with under a minute on the clock and this time they did score eight with a successful two-point conversion.

All-in-all the Ducks held onto their lead throughout the entire game and came out victorious after any Mustang chance was thwarted with an Oregon recovery of their onside kick.  This would be Oregon’s first bowl game victory in 47 years and their last with Len Casanova.  The Ducks wouldn’t see another bowl game until head coach Rich Brooks came around through the 80’s.  So next week we will look at the 1989 Independence Bowl.


UO…….Dennis Keller 9 run (Buck Corey kick), 5:23, 1st
UO…….Dick Imwalle 23 pass from Bob Berry (Herm Meister kick), 6:20, 2nd
UO…….Paul Burleson 20 pass from Berry (Meister kick), :58, 2nd
SMU……John Roderick 3 pass from Danny Thomas (pass failed), 9:29, 4th
SMU……Roderick 7 pass from Mac White (White run), :24, 4th
Individual Leaders

White (SMU) 10-60
Murphy (UO) 3-49, Keller (UO) 13-40

Thomas (SMU) 26-15-2-188
Berry (UO) 26-11-1-146

Jernigan (SMU) 7-112, Roderick (SMU) 5-61
Imwalle (UO) 3-57, Hill (UO) 3-27