File:1954 Virginia Tech Undefeated Football Team.jpg
1954 VPI Gobblers football
ConferenceSouthern Conference
APNo. 16
1954 record8–0–1 (3–0–1 SoCon)
Head coachFrank Moseley (4th season)
Home stadiumLane Stadium
← 1953
1955 →
1954 Southern Conference football standings
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
West Virginia 3 0 0     8 1 0
Furman 2 0 0     5 5 0
Virginia Tech 3 0 1     8 0 1
Davidson 2 1 0     6 3 0
VMI 4 3 0     4 6 0
Richmond 2 3 0     5 4 0
William & Mary 1 2 2     4 4 2
George Washington 0 4 1     1 7 1
The Citadel 0 4 0     2 8 0
† – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll

The 1954 VPI Gobblers football team represented Virginia Polytechnic Institute, now known as Virginia Tech, in the 1954 college football season. The team, coached by Frank Moseley, had an 8–0-1 record.[1] The team was ranked 16th in the final Associated Press poll. Three major college football teams had perfect records in 1954,[2] but the Gobblers only prevailed over one team with a winning record, fellow Southern Conference member Richmond, which was 5–4.

Despite its record, and some interest from bowl scouts,[3] Tech did not earn a berth in a postseason game. There were only 14 teams who played in bowl games following the 1954 season.

It was the first undefeated season for Virginia Tech since the 1918 team went 7–0. It also marks the last time that a Virginia Tech team has gone undefeated (although the 1999 team went 11-0 in regular-season play before losing the National Championship game played in the 2000 Sugar Bowl).

The Techmen were 3-0-1 in the conference, with the lone blemish coming in a tie with William & Mary, which finished the year 4-4-2. Tech finished second in the Southern to West Virginia which was 4-0. Those two teams did not face off during the season. Three Tech players were elected to the first-team all-conference squad: end Tom Petty who caught nine passes for 236 yards and five touchdowns; Dickie Beard who led the league in rushing with 647 yards [4]; and future Baltimore Colts star George Preas, a star interior lineman. [5] Howie Wright, injured early in the year, was elected to the second team. [6]

Frank O. Moseley, the 41-year old head coach, was unanimously named the Associated Press Big-Six coach of the year.[7] (The Big-Six was not a conference, but instead a press-inspired grouping of the six major college athletic programs in the state: Virginia Tech, William & Mary, UVA, VMI, Richmond, and Washington and Lee - ironically a school that did not field a varsity program in 1954). The state newspapers also coined seven other state athletic teams the "Little Seven": Emory and Henry; Hampden Sydney; Randolph-Macon; Bridgewater; Roanoke College [basketball only]); and Lynchburg College [basketball only]). The first team all Big-Six team included Beard, Petty and Preas, plus center Jack Prater and guard Billy Kerfoot. [8]


September 18NC State*W 30–21[9]9,000 [9]
September 25vs. Wake Forest*W 32–0[10]17,000 [10]
October 2at Clemson*W 18–7[11]14,000[12] [11]
October 16at RichmondNo. 16W 19–12[13]20,000 [13]
October 23vs. Virginia*No. 14W 6–0[14]17,000[14]
October 30William & MarydaggerNo. 14
  • Miles Stadium
  • Blacksburg, VA
T 7–716,000[15]
November 5at George WashingtonNo. 18W 20–13
November 13[[{{{school}}}|Waynesburg]]*No. 15
  • Miles Stadium
  • Blacksburg, VA
W 20–6[16]6,000 [16]
November 25vs. VMINo. 16
  • Victory Stadium
  • Roanoke, VA (rivalry)
W 46–9
  • *Non-conference game
  • daggerHomecoming
  • Rankings from AP Poll released prior to the game
  • Source: 1954 Virginia Tech football schedule[17]

Game SummariesEdit

North Carolina State (hW, 30-21)Edit

Howie Wright scored two touchdowns to lead the Gobblers to their first victory of the year, beating North Carolina State 30-21. [15] After falling behind 7-0 in the first quarter, Wright took a handoff from quarterback Johnny Dean and raced 67 yards to knot the score. [15] The Tech defense did not allow the Wolfpack a first down in the second or third quarters,[15] and in fact put the Gobblers in front 9-7 when George Preas tossed the NC State quarterback in the end zone for a safety. [9]On the drive following the free kick, Bill Cranwell took the ball in from the six, capping a 12-play drive. [9] After leading 16-7 at the half, the Techmen scored on another run by Wright, this one from the one.[9] After NC State matched that score with a touchdown return on the ensuing kickoff, quarterback Dean gave the Gobblers their final tally from one-yard out. [9]The Gobblers had taken the ball into NC State territory after an interception by Cranwell.[9] They held on for the 30-21 win. VPI had 317 yards on the ground, and had a total of 19 first downs. [15] Dickie Beard was 4-4 on extra point tries.

Wake Forest (nW, 32-0)Edit

Howie Wright and Johnny Dean each accounted for two touchdowns as the Gobblers shut out Wake Forest in the sixth Tobacco Bowl played in Richmond, VA.[10] Both of Wright's scores were over 60 yards, with the first coming on a 62-yard completion by Dean, and the second on a 64-yard jaunt off right tackle.  [10]. Dean also had a one-yard score to begin the onslaught in the first quarter.  [10] The Tech defense was brutal against the Wake air attack, intercepting six passes, two of those by Wright, who plays in both the offensive and defensive backfields.  [10] Bill Cranwell and Billy Anderson also scored for the Techmen. [10]  

Clemson (aW, 18-7)Edit

Tech beat its third Atlantic Coast Conference team in three weeks when it ran up an 18-0 lead by halftime and held on for an 18-7 upset win over Clemson.[11] Johnny Dean scored twice following a first period touchdown by Dickie Beard.[11] Dean also had an interception.[11] Beard had a total of 74 yards on 17 carriers. [18] The win was the first for the Gobblers over Clemson in five tries stretching over 20 years. [18].

Richmond (aW, 19-12)Edit

16th ranked Virginia Tech had to come from behind in the second quarter, and overcome the loss of its first string quarterback, to win against the Richmond Spiders. [13] Johnny Dean, who had starred for the Gobblers in its first three wins, scored the game's first touchdown, but had to be taken from the field on a stretcher after breaking his ankle. [19] Howie Wright was also injured and had to leave the game. It was the Gobblers' second win in Richmond City Stadium in three games.

Virginia (nW, 6-0)Edit

Dickie Cranwell passed 20-yards to Grover Jones in the end zone to cap a 73-yard second period drive which accounted for all the scoring in the 6-0 rivalry win for 14th ranked Virginia Tech over UVA. [14] The game was played at Victory Stadium in Roanoke. Cranwell, a sophomore, was starting his first game in place of quarterback Johnny Dean. [14] Dickie Beard led the defense, intercepting three UVA passes. [15] The game assured the Gobblers of a undefeated record against Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) teams. 1954 was Virginia's first season in the ACC, a very sore subject with the Hokies.[18] UVA, instead of Tech, had been the new conference's selection to bridge the gap between Maryland and the Carolinas. (At the time, Maryland's Terrapins were a national power, important for the prominence of the conference. So the league opted to become a four-state, instead of two-state league. However, it limited the size to eight schools). By the end of the season, the Gobblers made a satirical claim that it was in fact the ACC champion, since it had won as many games against conference teams as any other team in the conference. [18] In reality, Tech didn't beat Maryland, which finished as the actual conference champion with a 4-0 record. So its claim should have been it was co-champion]. [18]

William & Mary (hT, 7-7)Edit

Virginia Tech scored a late touchdown to escape with a 7-7 tie against William Mary, enough to preserve ts undefeated status, but not enough to keep its hopes of a perfect season alive.[20] The game was played before the largest crowd (16,000) to ever watch a game in Blacksburg.[20] Billy Anderson scored from three yards out with just under four minutes remaining, and Dickie Beard was successful on the extra point kick to avoid completely ruining homecoming for the Tech faithful. [20] William & Mary scored early in the game on a 55-yard run by the Tribe's Doug Henley. [20] While Tech's offense was dominating, rolling up 314 yards on the ground, the team was unable to move the ball when it counted until the final drive. [20]The Tech defense was also dominating aside from the one long run in the first quarter [20]. Aside from the long touchdown, the Techmen only gave up another 36 yards.   [20]

George Washington (aW, 20-13)Edit

Tech jumped out to a 14-0 lead and held on against the George Washington Colonials in a game played on a Friday night at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. [15] The Hokies hit on six of seven passes and three of those completions were touchdowns.[15] Dickie Cranwell threw two TDS, one to Grover Jones and one to Tom Petty.[15] Billy Anderson threw a halfback pass to a wide-open Bob Luttrell for the third score. [15] [21]

Waynesburg (hW, 20-6)Edit

The Waynesburg Yellow Jackets gave Tech all it could handle in the first half before succumbing to the heavily favored Gobblers 20-6.[16] Waynesburg, coming into Blacksburg with a five-game winning streak, struck first, scoring on the fifth play after Tech coughed up the ball on its own 26. [16] The extra point failed, but the Yellow Jackets held on to the 6-0 lead until less than one minute to play in the first half. With 59 seconds left in the stanza, QB Billy Cranwell threw to Tom Petty for the score, and freshman Wayne Webster successfully kicked the extra point.[16] In the second half, Dickie Beard was part of both Tech touchdowns, throwing a halfback pass to Petty for one score, and returning an intercepted pass for a 79-yard touchdown to wrap things up. [16] (Waynesburg was a lower-division program, eligible at the time to place its players on the "Little All-America" team, now composed of Division II, Division III and NAIA teams).

VMI (nW, 46-9)Edit

In what was referred to as the "Military Clash of the South," the Gobblers turned on the burners after a slow first quarter to VMI 46-9 in Roanoke's Victory Stadium in the traditional Thanksgiving Day tilt.[3] VMI held a 2-0 lead, and was threatening to score an offensive score when the Techmen held at their six. [3] Halfback Dickie Beard then threw his second pass of the season, and the second one resulting in a touchdown, when the Gobblers caught VMI off-guard on a 69-yard trick play that wound up in Tom Petty's hands. [3] Tech led 14-9 when Dick Ebert scored on a 12-yard run. [3] Don Divers then scored the next two touchdowns for the Gobblers, both on intercepted pass returns, the first for 42 yards and the other for 67. [3] Cranwell hit Petty for his fifth receiving score of the year, Beard ran for a touchdown. Bobby Scruggs ran for the final tally. [3]


The following players were members of the 1954 football team.[15][22]

VPI 1954 roster
  • William R. Anderson
  • Richard VanMetre "Dickie" Beard
  • Herbert Lee Blankenship
  • Gordon Derwood "Sonny" Bowman II
  • Franklin Dewey Brown
  • Leo Burke
  • Hayes Howell Burleson
  • Don Camp
  • Pat Luis Carpenito
  • William C. Cranwell
  • Robert J. Cruickshank
  • Charles Cuba
  • Bill Daley
  • Thomas John Dalzell
  • Johnny Dean
  • Raymond Donald Divers
  • Hugh David Ebert
  • John Rufus Hall
  • James H. Haren
  • James Lupton Hedrick
  • John Herndon
  • William Edward Jamerson
  • George Jones
  • Grover Cleveland Jones III
  • William Duncan Kerfoot
  • James Patrick Locke
  • Joseph Yadon Longmire
  • Robert Stevens Luttrell
  • Bob McCoy
  • Doug Mullins
  • Thomas R. Petty
  • Jack Warren Prater
  • George Preas
  • Thomas Carl Richards
  • Robert Earl Scruggs
  • Roger Winfield Simmons
  • Donald Gaylon Sink
  • Billy Tilling
  • Phillip William Unger
  • Ted Uzelac
  • Frank Webster
  • Ernie Wolfe
  • Bobby Wolfenden
  • Bob Wray
  • Howard Irving Wright


  1. "1954 Virginia Tech Hokies".
  2. "Sports Reference CFB".
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 "VPI takes Big Six grid title with 46-9 win over VMI: Tech eyes bowl bid after surprise victory". Pulaski Southwest Times. November 26, 1954.
  4. "Annual Individual Leaders (Southern Conference Football)".
  5. "Mountaineers place 6 men on all- Southern Conference team; Tech lands 3 players". Pulaski Southwest Times. November 26, 1954.
  6. "Conference Honors: All-Southern Conference".
  7. "Frank O. Moseley of VPI selected Big-Six coach of year: Tech ends up as 16th team in U. S.; Has first unbeaten season since 1918". Pulaski Southwest Times. December 5, 1954.
  8. "Tech lands five men on 1954 all-Big Six grid team: Richmond and Virginia each place two players; Petty, Preas, Kerfoot, Prater and Beard picked from Tech; Hartwell selected". Pulaski Southwest Times. November 30, 1954.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 "Virginia Tech defeats North Carolina State 30 to 21: Stiff ground attack brings Gobblers' win; Howie Wright paces VPI scoring parade". Pulaski Southwest Times. September 19, 1954. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 "Virginia Tech pulverizes Wake Forest defenses , 32-0: Wright leads attack for Gobblers; Elusive halfback confuses Deacons". Pulaski Southwest Times. September 26, 1954. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 "Virginia Tech defeats Clemson, 18-7, for third victory: Johnny Dean, Dickie Beard scoring aces". October 3, 1954. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  12. "V.P.I. Ground Game Rugged; King is Outstanding In Exciting Contest Saturday". The Tiger (Clemson University): p. 4. October 7, 1954. Retrieved July 24, 2017.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 "VPI comes from behind to push by Richmond, 19 to 12: Tech forced to play hard for victory". Pulaski Southwest Times. October 17, 1954. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 "Virginia Tech edges past touch Cavalier team, 6 to 0: Gobblers win on Cranwell 20-yard pass; VPI chalks up 5th straight triumph". October 24, 1954. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  15. 15.00 15.01 15.02 15.03 15.04 15.05 15.06 15.07 15.08 15.09 15.10 15.11 "The Bugle 1955". Virginia Tech Bugle. 1955. Retrieved 2017-07-02.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 "VPI beats Waynesburg, 20-6:Yellow Jacket line difficult for Gobblers; Losers score first in hard-fought tilt". Pulaski Southwest Times. November 14, 1954.
  17. Virginia Tech Football Past Schedules "1954–1955". Virginia Tech Sports Information Department, Accessed July 24, 2017.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 Harris, Mike (2006). Game of My Life: Virginia Tech. pp. 7. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  19. "VPI trying to uncover replacement for Dean". Pulaski Southwest Times. October 18, 1954. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 20.5 20.6 "Stubborn William & Mary ties Virginia Tech, 7 to 7: VPI overhauls alert Indians late in game; Pass interceptions hurt Gobblers' cause". Pulaski Southwest Times. October 31, 1954. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  21. "Clipping from Daily Press" (in en).
  22. "Virginia Tech vs Clemson Football Program (October 2, 1954)". Clemson University. October 2, 1954. p. 28. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
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