Mixsonian Morrs and Barbara Larry

The Gators and "The Kick"

Steve Spurrier 1966Steve Spurrier 1966

The Gator football season started in September and was one of the best seasons ever led by Steve Spurrier as quarterback.  It started with the Gators beating Northwestern and Mississippi State in Gainesville then beating Vanderbilt, Florida State, NC State and LSU in away games.  Dad was a happy man.   Steve Spurrier was spectacular passer who during eight games brought the Gators from behind in the fourth quarter to win the games.  The most notable game was the Auburn game which played in Gainesville with record crowd of 60,511 present that was tied up with two minutes to go. Spurrier leaded the team down the field into field goal range, then waving off the regular kicker and kicked a forty-yard field goal himself that became known as “The Kick”.

I was there that game selling coca cola in the stands. My brother and I had sold cokes at a couple of previous games that season making a few dollars.  Dad gave us each $20 which we had to pay back after the game and dropped us off at the stadium an hour before the game.  Outside the stadium there was a small booth where there was a line for coke sellers to buy a ticket for your first tray of cokes after which they let you into the stadium.  The way it worked was you buy a tray of 20 cokes for $18 and sold them for a dollar apiece so you got $20, $2 profit and $18 to buy the next ticket for another tray.  Once inside you went to the coke fill station, gave them the ticket and they would give you a tray of 20 cokes in paper cups which was quite heavy for a kid my size, I’m not sure how by brother handled it since he was smaller. 

In previous games I headed out right away into the stands but learned this was not such a good idea as the people were still arriving prior to kickoff and few were ready to by a coke, so I learned it was better to wait until most everyone was seated before starting. Fifteen minutes or so before the games started, I headed out into the stands with a full tray, walking up and down the steep flights of narrow stairs yelling “Coke, Coke a Cola, Get your ice cold Coke” as loudly as I could.   The game started with lots of excitement with Auburn fumbling the opening kickoff which Florida recovered and Spurrier then threw a 10-yard touchdown pass, there was a great roar from the crowd and they settled back down and begin buying cokes.  The excitement was short lived when the Gators kickoff was run back by Auburn for a touchdown and tying the score.   There were tricks I learned, cokes sell better in the stands in the sun, the student side bought fewer cokes than the alumni side, at half time you could just stand inside under the stands and sell cokes to the people that didn’t want to wait in the concession line.  Even so in previous games I sold five or six trays, a hundred cokes, that’s a lot of work walking up and down the stands for three hours to make $10 or $12 dollars.  I did better at mowing lawns.

With a tray was empty I headed back for another tray but this Tickettime it was different.  In past games I would keep the two dollars I made, taking $18 to the booth and buy a ticket for another tray.  Each game they had a different color ticket and somehow one of my friends found out what color the tickets were going to be for the game and got a bunch of them and he gave me a dozen.  So, I skipped buying a ticket going directly to the refill station where I gave them one of my counterfeit tickets, getting a new tray of cokes and headed back into the stands to sell them.

The second quarter started, my cokes were selling well as the Gators marched down the field and were about to score when they fumbled which Auburn recovered running it back for a 91 yard touchdown.  The crowd got quiet, but the Gators prevailed with Spurrier leading them back for a touchdown again tying the game.   And so it went through the third quarter and into the fourth.

I had made a tidy profit using my counterfeit tickets so at the start of the fourth quarter I quit selling cokes and found a place to watch the game.  It was an exciting game, Auburn scoring, the Gators scoring with the game again tied with two minutes left in the game with the Gator having possession of the ball but getting a penalty making it fourth and 14 at the 23rd yard line.  So, what were they to do? Spurrier was a good passer, but fourth and 14, will that was a bit much. The coach on the sidelines called for a field goal and sent the place kicker in but as the kicker ran out on the field, Spurrier waved him away, sending him back to the sidelines.   The coach on the sideline, not knowing what was going on called for a time out, calling Spurrier over where Spurrier explained that he wanted to kick the field goal, it was longer than any he had tried before, but he could do it.

Now Spurrier had done some kicking before, in earlier games he kicked several field goals, completing two and missing three. Spurrier pointed out to the coach that he had a better record than the regular who only had only kicked two, making one and missing the other.  The coach agreed and with the timeout over sent Spurrier back in to kick the goal.   The Auburn coach said later that he thought that they sent Spurrier back in that it was going to be a fake kick and Spurrier was going to run the ball.  But that was not the case, Spurrier kicked the ball making the 41 yard field goal.  The crowd went crazy, the yelling was so loud I couldn't hear what they were saying over the loudspeaker.   Auburn got the ball back for the last minute, but the Gator defense held and they won the game 30 to 27.

With the game over David and I followed the excited crowd out of the stadium to meet Dad who had been at the game.  Dad had told us where to meet him and he soon showed up and we walked to the car which was parked in the big filed next to the stadium where later they build the O’Connell Center.  On the drive home Dad couldn’t stop talking about the game and how Spurrier saved the game.  We got home I gave Dad back the $20 he gave me for the first ticket, leaving me with sixty dollars, I also was happy.   The Gators lost the next game to Georgia then beat Tulane, then lost to Miami which got them into the Orange Bowl where they beat Georgia Tech.  It was a good season with nine wins and two losses. Steve Spurrier broke every UF and many conference records for passing and total offense  winning the Heisman Trophy that year for his performance.

An interesting side note is that Spurrier was among the test subjects who was given a prototype for what would become Gatorade. Spurrier was unsure of whether or not the beverage had a substantial impact on the team's success but the drink went on to be a great success and even to this day you can see many teams drinking Gatorade during their games on TV.

Larry with daughter at Spurrier's resturantLarry with daughter at Spurrier's resturant

Fifty-six years later, in 2022 I went to Steve Spurrier’s restaurant The Gridiron Grill in Gainesville with my brother and daughter which not only is a restaurant, but a museum of Spurrier’s career.  While eating dinner there were several large screens on the walls of the restaurant and on one of them they showed “The Kick” and interviewed Spurrier about it. On the way out we stopped and looked at Spurrier’s Heisman Trophy and other awards.

Spurrier's Heisman TrophySpurrier's Heisman at the Gridiron


Updated: 09-13-2022