The Legend of Earl Hawkins

Posted on: Thursday, December 18th, 2014 by Monica Hoel

Earl Hawkins was a record-setting, football playing legend at Emory and Henry CollegeIf you talk with any sports enthusiast about Emory & Henry athletics, the conversation almost always leads to the question, “Do you know about the W&L game in 1962?”

It is frankly hard to imagine that anyone doesn’t know that story, and the name that most often gets repeated in the telling is that of All-American running back Earl Hawkins (E&H ’69). With Earl’s death in the news this week, a revisit of that story and his career seems appropriate.

Earl set records at Emory & Henry in the 1960s that remain unbroken today, and he is one of a very few E&H athletes who went on to play professionally. He was drafted by and played for the Detroit Lions and the Baltimore Colts. He is in the Emory & Henry Sports Hall of Fame and may have been as well-known in his post-grad life for his softball skills as he was in college for his football accomplishments.

At Emory & Henry he and teammates beat schools that no one thought would have trouble with tiny Emory & Henry. In a Richmond Times-Dispatch article Earl recounts the day the Wasps beat Appalachian State. Earl recalled the win and the details saying, “We beat Appy in a driving rain 6-3 the day they dedicated their stadium. I tossed a halfback option pass to Bobby Magill from Richmond for the score.” (Emory & Henry is listed in the ASU football program as ASU’s first loss in Kidd-Brewer Stadium.)

The detail about Bobby Magill is important because while Earl received much laud and attention for his athletic prowess, he was careful to share the limelight. When his E&H football jersey was retired on campus in 2013, he was careful to thank all of his teammates for the work they did together to win.

But Earl did take delight in recounting the wins. During an E&H alumni trip to Appalachian State University in 2011, E&Hers had an accidental meeting with ASU head football coach Jerry Moore in a hallway in the athletics building. Earl sidled up to Coach Moore, smiled wryly and said, “You know we beat you back in 1962?” Coach Moore knew the story and was so impressed to meet someone from that team he cleared the locker room of players and took alumni on a personal tour of the building and the recently renovated football field.

So, do you know about the W&L game in 1962?  The spring 2005 Emory & Henry alumni magazine carried a story by Nathan Graybeal (E&H re’82) that recounted some of Emory & Henry’s more memorable sports legends. First among those stories is the story of “that” W&L game.  We end here with Nathan's version of the story because Earl will always be inextricably linked to this unforgettable win.

Earl and Lynda Jones Hawkins in 2013 Earl and Lynda Jones Hawkins in 2013.

Homecoming 1962: The Generals of Washington & Lee breezed into Emory with a 21-game unbeaten streak and a string of press clippings proclaiming them an indomitable small-college football powerhouse. By the middle of the third period of this game with a large 33-14 lead, W&L seemed to be telling the Wasps, “You can’t win; stop trying.”

But the E&H squad didn’t seem to get the message. In the final minutes of the game, the Wasps played “like a team possessed,” according to the 1962 E&H yearbook. They returned a W&L kick-off to the four-yard line and quickly scored on a run by Earl Hawkins (’69). Shortly thereafter, Curt Campbell (’64) intercepted a pass on the General’s 28-yard line. Two plays later, Hawkins, who was dubbed the hero of the game, ran 26 yards for the score. Emory & Henry ended the game with a 73-yard drive including another Hawkins touchdown at fourth and inches.

Final score: Emory & Henry 38, Washington & Lee 33.

Add Pingback