This season, there are 39 college football bowl games, including the national championship to be played Jan. 12 in Arlington, Texas.
Following the 1947 season that number was just 13, and of those, only the Cotton, Gator, Orange, Sugar, Sun and Rose bowls are still in operation. The others, the Delta, Dixie, Harbor, Raisin, Salad, Tangerine and Great Lakes, are no longer around.
Unlike today when the bowl season starts in mid-December and runs through mid-January, 12 of the 13 games were played on New Year’s Day in 1948 with the only exception being the Great Lakes Bowl, which took place Dec. 6 between Kentucky and Villanova. Georgia played in the Gator Bowl that year and battled Maryland to a tie at 20.
Columbus also hosted a bowl game on the first day of 1948, but unlike the previously mentioned 13 games that were for college squads, Columbus’ Peanut Bowl featured a couple of high school state championship teams. The Lanier Poets, the Georgia Class AA champions, took on South Carolina winner North Charleston, and unfortunately the Macon program was no match for the team from the Palmetto State. North Charleston built a 19-point halftime lead and coasted to a 34-6 win. Lanier was held to just 33 yards of total offense.
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The game with North Charleston was not Lanier’s only out-of-state opponent that season. It hosted sister school Lanier of Montgomery, Alabama, just prior to beginning its state playoff run, and the Alabama program claimed a 19-6 win in the game played at Porter Stadium.
Lanier had an interesting path to the state title in 1947. It was the first year of the Georgia High School Association, which had replaced the Georgia Interscholastic Athletic Association. The GHSA had established a new playoff format dividing teams in north and south regions. Region winners would meet in the state semifinals with the winners advancing to the state title game. Lanier was placed in Region I.
The Poets got off to a slow start that season dropping their opener to Brown of Atlanta 6-0 and tying Catholic of Augusta at 14 in their second game. They then reeled off five straight wins beating Marist 15-13 at Ponce de Leon Park in Atlanta, Columbus 6-0, Savannah 8-0, Roosevelt 19-6 and Jordan 14-12 before battling Richmond Academy to a scoreless tie. They got back on the winning track beating Benedectine 27-6 and Baker 25-13 before losing the game to Lanier of Montgomery.
Following the setback to the Alabama program, the Poets took on the same Brown team they had lost to in the season opener. The two squads fought to a deadlock at 6, but a new penetration rule was used to determine the outcome of the game, and Lanier was declared the winner because it had advanced the football inside the Brown 20-yard line twice while Brown had been inside the Lanier 20 just once.
That moved Lanier on to the state title game against Richmond Academy in another rematch. Playing in Augusta, after Richmond Academy won a coin toss to decide the playoff site, once again the teams battled to a tie, this time at 6, and once again Lanier was declared the winner on the penetration rule. Lanier had made it inside the Musketeers’ 20 twice while Richmond Academy had penetrated Lanier’s 20 just once.
The 1947 state title for Lanier was the first of back-to-back titles for the Poets. They also won the Class AA title in 1948, and once again on a tiebreaker system after a tie at 13 with Marist in the championship game. The tiebreaker had been changed to three criteria after the 1947 season, now using penetrations, first downs and total yardage. Had the rule not been changed, Marist would have been declared champion with six penetrations to three for Lanier, but the Poets got the win because they had more first downs and more total yardage.
Contact Bobby Pope at firstname.lastname@example.org