1973 Cotton Bowl: Texas 17, Alabama 13
More important than UT’s opponent, however, may have been the status of All-SWC quarterback Alan Lowry, who suffered through a sleepless New Year’s Eve due to tonsillitis. At game time Lowry was on the verge of admitting he was unable to play. In fact, some Longhorns fans probably wished he hadn’t been in the game following a pair of early interceptions that led to 10 first-quarter Alabama points.
The game was barely 10 minutes old when Wilbur Jackson zoomed 31 yards to put the Tide on top 10-0 after Lowry’s second miscue.
Billy Schott got Texas on the scoreboard early in the second frame with a 24-yard field goal, but Alabama’s Bill Davis answered at the end of the half with a 30-yarder of his own to keep the Tide in front 13-3.
After their mistake-filled first half, things started to click for the Longhorns in the final 30 minutes. Roosevelt Leaks churned out 37 of his 120 yards rushing on UT’s 59-yard scoring drive midway through the third quarter that shot the Longhorns back into the picture. Lowry put the finishing touch on the drive, scoring from three yards out to trim the Alabama lead to three.
Bear Bryant’s squad drove deep into Texas territory midway through the fourth quarter and was poised to push the lead back to 10 points. With just under eight minutes to play, Terry Melancon ended the Bama drive with his second interception, snaring the errant toss in the endzone and giving the Longhorns possession at the 20.
Two long pass completions and some more work on the ground by Leaks helped Texas work its way into Alabama territory. With the ball spotted at the Tide 34, Lowry pulled off one of the most memorable plays in Cotton Bowl history. Lowry took the snap on third and two, hid the ball on his hip and executed the bootleg to perfection. Lowry rolled to his left, then cut sharply to the sideline and outran the Tide defense to score the game-winning touchdown.
Replays showed that Lowry, who finished with 117 yards on 16 carries and passed for 61 more, may have caught the sideline at the 10-yard line when he cut back to elude the final Tide tackler.
Lowry said no, his teammates said no, the officials said no, and the final score stood.