On Notre Dame’s first play from scrimmage, Hornung took the snap from center and moved laterally down the line where, as the Daily Oklahoman put it, Jerry Tubbs “hit him like a freight train.” This was, without doubt, the single most memorable play of the season. Tubbs’ hit made the national TV audience cringe in sympathy for the helpless Hornung.
Years later Sooner players vividly remembered this one single tackle. Halfback David Baker called it “probably the most outstanding tackle I ever saw in college football. Tubbs just literally killed him.”
Clendon Thomas called it the “keynote tackle” because it set the tone for the entire game. This play was certainly symbolic of OU’s superiority over Notre Dame on this day. If one were to select one isolated play to put into a time capsule that would represent the excellence of the ’56 Sooners, “Tubbs’ Tackle” would surely be the play.
After David Baker boomed a quick-kick 60 yards and Steve Jennings blocked Notre Dame’s punt, alternate team quarterback Jay O’Neal scored on a quarterback sneak. Halfback Carl Dodd kicked the extra point and the Sooners led 13-0. By now, all of the 60,128 watching in person and the entire national television audience knew that only the final margin of OU’s victory was in doubt.
When the starting team got their hands on the ball for the second time in the game, they covered the 64 yards needed for a score in only eight plays. Clendon Thomas carried through a large hole opened by linemen Bell, Emerson and Krisher for 11 yards and the TD.
In his weekly letter to the Alumni Association, Bud praised the Sooner’s strong blocking in this contest: “I thought this game showed the tremendous importance of blocking in football offense. Billy Pricer, our senior fullback from Perry, did a truly outstanding job of blocking, as did all our linemen, Don Stiller, Ed Gray, Joe Oujesky, Jerry Tubbs, Bill Krisher, Tom Emerson, John Bell, Delbert Long, Ross Coyle, Byron Searcy, Steve Jennings, Bob Harrison, Doyle Jennings, Benton Ladd and Bob Timberlake. The men — who carry the ball, throw it and catch it — get their full share of publicity. Yet, football games are won by the outstanding play of unheralded linemen.”