Forty years is a long time, and at 88, Bob Fulton admits his memory isn't what it once was. But the longtime "Voice of the Gamecocks" has no trouble recalling perhaps the most important victory - and play - in South Carolina's 1969 ACC championship football season.
Interestingly, it came in USC's lone nonconference win, 17-16 over Virginia Tech - a game Fulton is convinced assured USC its Peach Bowl bid.
The Gamecocks were 3-1, all the wins coming at home, when they journeyed to Blacksburg, Va., to face a team that had pummeled them a year earlier, 17-6. But in 1969, the Hokies were 0-4, though perhaps "the best 0-4 team in the nation," Fulton said.
Tech, known then as VPI, scored late for a 16-14 lead, but kicker Jack Simcsak missed the extra point. After returner Dickie Harris ran the kickoff to the USC 32, quarterback Tommy Suggs completed passes of 10 and 9 yards to split end Fred Zeigler.
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Suggs' 14-yard completion to tight end Doug Hamrick was followed by two incompletions and a 1-yard rush. With nine seconds to play, former A.C. Flora High kicker Billy DuPre - who had missed twice earlier from long range - set up to try to win the game from 47 yards.
Fulton's rich baritone kicks in: "Billy hit it sort of low, and the ball just cleared the crossbar," he said. "It was a dying seagull, just made it.
"I had to wait to make sure it was good and no one was offside, so I stretched out the call: 'And the kick ... is ... good!'" Fulton laughed. "I thought, I'm going to have a little fun with this," he said.
It was too much "fun" for USC assistant coach Scooter Purvis, who hyperventilated in the press box and collapsed. "Someone came to me and said, 'Bob, I think one of your coaches had a heart attack,'" Fulton said.
"I felt for Virginia Tech. Their players lay down on the field after the kick; they thought they had that one."
DuPre, who now lives in Greenwood, declined to talk about his kick, saying in a voicemail, "I don't do interviews."
No matter. For Fulton, the memory is crystal clear.
- Bob Gillespie