James White knocks most improbable run in Badgers history from atop record book

Fifty years before James White ran for a 93-yard touchdown

against Indiana, another Wisconsin back broke loose for a 91-yard touchdown to

break a record which had stood for 51 years.

White’s TD run might not be seen as improbable — after all, he is a 1,000-yard

rusher who was going against a horrid rush defense.

The same can’t be said of Tom Brigham’s run back on Sept. 21, 1963, which has

to be the most improbable run in the history of the Wisconsin program.

The No. 7-ranked Badgers were leading Western Michigan 34-0 at Camp Randall

Stadium. Western Michigan was driving for a score, but was stopped on the

one-foot line as the clock wound down on the game.

Wisconsin moved the ball out of the shadow of its own goal line with a couple

of runs to its own 9-yard line. Nowadays, it would be common to see a team have

the quarterback kneel on the ball and run out the final seconds.

But in 1963, that wasn’t the case.

The 6-foot, 183-pound Brigham, described by the Racine Times as an

“obscure fourth string Wisconsin fullback” took a handoff and broke through the line for

his historic 91-yard run with just 23 seconds remaining in the game.

The UPI report said Brigham “ripped through the center of the line against

an unmanned Western Michigan crew and was in the clear with 70 yards to run

unmolested for the counter.” The Associated Press wrote Brigham, who was

from Two Rivers, Wis., “broke through left tackle, picked up a couple of

blocks and went 91 yards for a touchdown” on an “electrifying


Another view came from the Wisconsin State Journal, which claimed “many of

the 48,574 fans had left the stadium when with 23 seconds left in the game,

Brigham broke loose … (taking) a handoff from quarterback Arnie Quaerna, found

daylight in the middle and outlegged the tired Broncos. He was on his own the

last 40 yards.”

Eddie Gillett had set the UW record of 90 yards against Northwestern in 1912

(this run is not counted among Wisconsin’s “modern” day records,

which begins starting in 1946).

Brigham finished the day with two carries for 93 yards.

Brigham wasn’t a fullback like we see these days — he set the 440-yard record

in his senior year at Washington High School — but his run was still quite

unexpected. Despite being only a sophomore, he carried the ball just one more

time while at Wisconsin (also in the 1963 season) and lost one yard (note: Brigham was moved to defensive end and ended up being taken by the Detroit Lions in the 10th round of the 1966 draft).

Final stats as a fullback for Brigham at Wisconsin: three carries, 92 yards and one touchdown

run for the record books.