Jerry Drew: The Day the Dam Broke

A few years ago I was reading an article about the all-time greatest games by Cal running backs and came across this amazing statistic:  Jerry Drew vs. Oregon State (1954) – 283 yards on 11 carries.  That’s 25.7 yards per carry.  I got to wondering: who was this Jerry Drew?  Why had I never heard of him?  Turns out, he wasn’t even a starter, and he did virtually all of it in a single half. 

Jerry Drew

In November 1954, Jerry Drew was a junior reserve fullback who had never started a game.  The Oregon State game, on November 13, was the second-to-last game of the season.  As usual, Drew saw only limited action in the first half.  By halftime he had 4 carries for 15 yards.  By the middle of the third quarter, Cal had a 25-0 lead, and it was time to start playing the back-ups.  

Drew came in and ran for a 67-yard touchdown.  Then he ran for a 59-yard touchdown.  Then he ran for a 55-yard touchdown.  He added 4 more carries for another 87 yards, for a total of 268 yards on 7 carries in the second half.  (That’s 38.3 yards a carry in the second half!)  By the time the game ended in a 46-7 Cal victory, Jerry Drew had run for a total of 283 yards, breaking Johnny Olszewski’s Cal single-game rushing record of 269 yards.  Drew’s single-game rushing record would stand for 54 years, until it was broken by Jahvid Best against Washington in 2008.  His record of 268 yards in a half still stands, not only as the Cal record, but as the Pac-12 record as well.  It is the oldest existing rushing record in the Pac-12.

Jerry Drew rushing against Oregon State

Unsurprisingly, Drew got his first Cal start in the next game, against Stanford.  He looked good, rushing for 119 yards on 13 carries, including a 27-yard touchdown – although that paltry 9 yards per carry really brought down his average!

Drew plowing through a tackle in the 1953 Washington State game

Drew missed the entire 1955 season with injuries, but played his senior year in 1956. He was unable to regain the magic he had against Oregon State and Stanford, and gained only 109 yards on 42 carries in his entire senior year. But what an extraordinary day he had against the Beavers!


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