A-K Valley’s Girdano remembers ‘slowest touchdown in Tulsa history’
Throughout its storied history, college football has had spectacular moments fans, players and coaches never forget.
Auburn’s Kick Six against Alabama in 2013. Desmond Howard striking the Heisman pose against Ohio State in 1991. The famous “The band is on the field” moment between Cal and Stanford in 1982. All hold special places in the history of the sport. But there are also those special moments fans might not know about.
Before the start of the college football season, an A-K Valley resident came forward and shared one of those moments. He shared because while it may be one people don’t necessarily know about, it’s one he can’t forget.
John Girdano was a linemen at Westinghouse High School in the 1950s. He graduated in 1956 and at one point was named City League Linemen of the Year by the Sun-Telegraph and was a “Mr. Pittsburgh” entrant, as well.
His list of accolades goes on and on. He went up against Mike Ditka in 1954, he blocked for Sherrill Brown in 1956 and he was named to the Pittsburgh City League All Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.
Girdano’s performance during his high school career led to scholarship offers from several small colleges, but two offers rose above the rest: Tulsa and Michigan State. Girdano visited Tulsa and made plans to visit Michigan State, but Mother Nature had other ideas.
“I was all set to leave on a Monday morning, but I got snowed in,” Girdano said. “(Michigan State) would’ve been my first preference, but I never ended up going. I did make a trip to Tulsa, though, and I liked it a lot.”
So Girdano went to Tulsa, which led to the play he can’t get out of his head.
The year was 1958, two years after the 5-foot-10, 190-pound linemen graduated from the storied City League program led by Pete Dimperio at the time, and the Golden Hurricanes were at North Texas State for a Missouri Valley Conference matchup.
Although North Texas State beat Tulsa, 14-12, it was the way the Golden Hurricanes scored their first touchdown that Girdano will never forget.
Playing with a 7-0 lead, North Texas lined up for a 27-yard field goal. But Girdano broke through the line and blocked the attempt.
“I had this move that I liked to use, and I used to use it against Mike Ditka all the time,” Girdano said. “As soon as the ball moved, I was gone. Nobody touched me, and I blocked the kick.”
Because of confusion on whether the ball was in play or not, an official blew his whistle. But Girdano was encouraged by the cheers of 12,402 fans in attendance to take the ball into the end zone. After a conversation between the officials, the ball was deemed in play, and Girdano was awarded the “slowest touchdown in Tulsa history.”
“My coach was just yelling at me to keep going,” Girdano said. “So I went 85 yards untouched for a touchdown. The next day in the paper the headline was, ‘John Girdano makes slowest touchdown in history,’ because it took me a minute to get there.”
Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .