HOUSTON — Dicky Maegle, Rice’s running back tackled in the 1954 Cotton Bowl by an Alabama player who came off the bench in one of the most legendary plays in college football history, has died.
Rice University and the National Football Foundation announced Tuesday that Maegle died on Sunday. He was 86 years old.
After leaving Rice and playing with three teams over seven NFL seasons — including the first five with the 49ers — he changed the spelling of his last name to phonetically correct Maegle instead of Moegle.
Maegle had six interceptions in his first year with the 49ers, earning Pro Bowl honors as a safety. He followed that season with eight picks in his second year and six in his third before injuries limited him to just five starts combined in his final two games with the 49ers.
In Rice’s 28-6 victory on New Year’s Day 1954, Maegle took a stint from the Owls 5 and rounded the right end. After passing Tide defensive back and quarterback Bart Starr and the rest of the Alabama defenders, Maegle was near midfield when Tommy Lewis came off the bench and threw a blind block that made him fall to the ground. Lewis then ran to the bench and officials awarded Maegle a 95-yard touchdown.
Rest in peace to Rice Owls legend Dicky Maegle, who died Sunday at the age of 86.
In Rice’s 1954 Cotton Bowl victory over Alabama, Maegle rushed for 265 yards on 11 carries. He was tackled by a member of the Alabama sidelines and rewarded a 95-yard TD: pic.twitter.com/5AxlQxCTJn
—Steve Helwick (@s_helwick) July 6, 2021
Maegle also had TD runs of 79 and 34 yards to finish with 265 rushing yards on 11 carries in this Cotton Bowl. It’s still a Rice single-game record for rushing yards.
Both players later appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and other national TV shows to talk about the play. Lewis explained that he was “just too full of Alabama” to watch Maegle run for a touchdown. Maegle likened the tackle to running down an alley when someone suddenly opened a door. The bench tackle was named the sports oddity of 1954 by writers who took part in an Associated Press year-end poll.
Lewis, guard and co-captain of that SEC championship-winning Alabama team, died in October 2014.
A two-way player in college, Maegle was the 10th overall pick by San Francisco in the 1955 NFL Draft and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie defensive back. He had 28 interceptions in 73 career games, with the 49ers (1955-59), Pittsburgh Steelers (1960) and Dallas Cowboys (1961).