A total of 12 Thanksgiving Day Burley Bowl games were played between 1945 and 1956, with the East Tennessee State Buccaneers participating in five of them: 1952 through 1956. They won the first four games but lost the fifth one to Memphis State. This much-anticipated event consisted of a parade held in downtown Johnson City in mid-morning, followed by a football game at Roosevelt (Memorial) Stadium on E. Main Street that afternoon.
The 1953 ETSC annual offered details of the eighth annual game in 1952 between the Emory and Henry Wasps and the Buccaneers:
“Before a crowd of 10,000, the Bucs rallied from a 3-0 first quarter deficit to almost completely dominate the entire game. The turning point came when Henderson blocked Long’s kick, giving the Bucs possession of the ball on the Emory 17-yard line.
“A pass from Crumley to Morrison fell incomplete, but on the next play, Ford plowed his way to the Wasp 13. Lloyd raced to the five and Saulsbury scored to put the Bucks ahead 6-3. Morrison’s conversion gave the Bucs a 7-3 lead. From this point, the home team made a mockery of the one-touchdown-favored Wasps. Tackle Bryan recovered an Emory fumble on their own 35 to set up another score. Poe crashed over from the six-yard line to give State a 10-point lead.
1945 Burley Bowl Football Game Ticket
DeFillipo pounced on a second Emory fumble on the Wasp 33. Crumley raced to the Wasp 11 and, on the next play, hit Ford for the third touchdown. After a 65-yard drive, Horwatt tossed a pass to Howard in the end zone to cut the Bucs lead to 20-10. At no time did they seem to let up in their determination.
“Poe took the Emory kick-off and rushed from his own 17 yard line to the opponent's 34. Ford dashed to the Emory 29 as followers of the Wasps groaned audible. Lloyd, Crumley and Ford then moved to a first down on the 19. Morrison, on an end-around, got to the 15 and Crumley advanced the ball to the 10. On the next play, Crumley raced to pay dirt. After Morrison’s extra point kick, the Bucs’ 27-10 lead removed any hope Emory might have had.
“The Wasps opened the fourth quarter with a touchdown from the one-foot line to make the score 27-16. Matlock repeatedly kept the Wasps deep in their own territory with his booming toe, which averaged 37 yards. In the final minutes of play, Ford scored from the three yard line after State had taken possession of the ball on the five yard line due to Emory’s illegal receiver down field. Morrison kicked the extra point and ETSC came out of its first Burley Bowl appearance with a resounding victory.”
1953 Buccaneers at Snowy Roosevelt Stadium
The 1954 annual provided specifics of the ninth annual game in 1953 also between Emory and Henry Wasps and the ETSC Buccaneers: “The Bucs’ first touchdown came early when the Wasps’ Long, back to kick on his own 35, received a bad pass from center, decided to run and lost two yards. The Bucks took over at that point. Ford took a pitch-out and swept around right end for the score. Morrison missed the extra point.
“The Buccaneers struck again when Porter recovered an Emory and Henry fumble on the Wasps 24. Pete “The Arm” Wilson tossed a pass to Hal “Glue Fingers” Morrison in the end zone for the second touchdown. Morrison’s kick for the extra point made the score 13-0. In the second period, Wilson, on his 34, handed off to Saulsbury who went all the way to the Wasps’ 12. Several plays later, “The Arm” passed to Foster who went over for the touchdown. Morrison’s extra point made it 20-0.
1953 Buccaneers on the Sidelines
“State’s longest run came in the third period when Foster took a Wasp punt on his own 30 and scampered 70 yards to score. Morrison kicked the extra point through the uprights and East Tennessee State was out front 34-0. The final touchdown was the lengthiest. Emory and Henry’s Bob Haney intercepted an attempted lateral by State on their own 11-yard line and churned off 89 yards for the touchdown. That made the final score read 48-12.
“Standouts in the Buc forward wall were Jim Huddle, Bob Porter and Hal Morrison. Sparkplugs in the Buccaneer backfield were Pete Wilson, Jerry Ford and Buddy Saulsbury.”