Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

June 20, 2014

MARK MAYNARD: About that 72-point game for Gullett ...

ASHLAND — Of all the marvelous achievements that happened in Don Gullett’s career before his days with the Cincinnati Reds, the one that draws the most acclaim is the football game where he scored every point in McKell’s 72-7 victory over Wurtland in the last regular season game of the 1968 season.

Gullett, who was a senior, scored 11 touchdowns and kicked six extra points.

Fans who actually witnessed the game probably numbers in the hundreds but fans who say they were at the game is more in the thousands today.

Nevertheless, it was a performance that is not lost upon those who experienced it on the field.

Say hello to Bob Bryson, a classmate and the center on the 1968 McKell Bulldogs.

“Looking back on it now, what more than 45 years later, I’m kinda proud to say I played in that game when a national record-setter,” Bryson said.

Bryson said McKell went into the game trying to make Gullett the state scoring champion. “We knew if he scored four or five touchdowns, that would be enough. We had beaten them like 46-0 in the Grid-O-Rama (preseason) so we knew he was scoring. The idea was we wanted him to get the state scoring title.”

Coach Jim Hastings made sure that happened by handing it off to Gullett as much as possible. He carried 25 times for 415 yards against the outmanned Wurtland Warriors.

It wasn’t Gullett’s plan to score 11 touchdowns and he’s never been one to talk much about the game. But everybody knows about it. It was on the back of several baseball cards. Whenever his name was mentioned when the Reds were broadcast on television, the subject came up with announcers. It was part of the Don Gullett Legend.

“He would have only had 10 touchdowns if it wasn’t for me,” Bryson said. “I recovered a fumble of his at the 1-yard line and he scored on the next play.”

There were some other instances, too. McKell running back Hoby Burke broke off a long run and was tackled at the 1-yard line. Hastings sent in the next play and it was an off-tackle to Gullett, who really wanted Burke to get the touchdown. He took the handoff and plowed into the pile and fell down at the 1-yard line. Hastings sent the play in again for Gullett. He went down at the 1-yard line again. It was the same on third down. On fourth down, the same played to Gullett was called and this time, knowing it was fourth down, he went on into the end zone.

“He didn’t want to hog the spotlight, ever,” Bryson said. “He thought Hoby deserved the touchdown.”

But Hasting had pre-determined it was going to be Gullett’s night.

“Don was kind of embarrassed by it,” Bryson said. “It was something that Hastings did.”

As if 72 points wasn’t enough, Bryson said it could have been more.

“He had an off night kicking,” he said.

While Gullett certainly made the correct career path by choosing baseball — his 109-50 career major league record is one of the best winning percentages in history — he could have made it big in football or basketball, too.

Bryson said, in his estimation, football was Gullett’s best sport.

“He was probably at his best when you put a football in his hands,” Bryson said. “He had a scholarship offer to Alabama (when Bear Bryant was coach). He would have been in the same backfield with Johnny Musso. He was very similar to the way Don ran ... always down low and legs churning.”

Musso was an All-American in 1971 for the Crimson Tide, finishing fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting.

The 1970 and 1971 Alabama teams won 10 and 11 games, respectively.

Meanwhile, Gullett was throwing fastballs for the Reds.

“He (Gullett) probably made the right choice,” Bryson said.

No matter what he decided to do, Gullett was going to be successful. He also never let it go to his head, Bryson said.

“One thing that always impressed me about Don is I’d see him in the winter time after playing in the World Series with Reds and Yankees and he was still same ol’ country boy I knew in school, always humble.”

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648.

 

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