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.