Dunn truly was one of the best ever

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 11, 2000

I heard the name Perry Lee Dunn a lot growing up. Coaches, players and longtime local sports fans talked about Dunn with reverence.

I knew Perry Lee was a great player at Natchez High from how Democrat columnist Glenvall Estes talked about him on several occasions.

And I knew Perry Lee was an outstanding player at Ole Miss and competed in the pros.

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But it wasn’t until I checked out some old clippings Dunn brought down and that his brother Robert let me borrow that I truly realized what a great athlete he was.

According to a 1977 article in the Jackson Daily News, Dunn was the most highly recruited prep athlete ever in the state

The Daily News went on to say that, &uot;Whenever anyone begins extolling the abilities of the year’s No. 1 blue-chipper (running back James Berry of North Natchez holds that distinction in 1977), someone always says ‘He’s good, but not as good as Perry Lee Dunn was.’&uot;

Then I was thumbing through an Ole Miss media guide looking at the bowl games the Rebels participated in while Dunn was there. That’s when I came across the wild 1964 Sugar Bowl.

I had to call Dunn and his Natchez and Ole Miss teammate Allen Brown about this contest to get their comments.

To recap, Dunn completed 8 of 10 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown in a heartbreaking 12-7 loss to Alabama.

Four inches of snow fell on New Orleans the day before the game. There were 17 fumbles in the game. Ole Miss fumbled 11 times, losing six.

&uot;It was a lot of fun,&uot; Dunn said. &uot;The terrible part about it was that it was like we had a greased pig and they didn’t. They beat us with four field goals.&uot;

&uot;We had never played in the snow in college or at Green Bay,&uot; Brown said. &uot;And certainly not in Natchez. But it had actually warmed up, but when they uncovered the field it rolled to the side.&uot;

Ole Miss trailed 12-0 at halftime. With seconds remaining in the third quarter, Dunn ran for nine yards to the Ole Miss 35. Three plays later, Dunn passed 42 yards to Dave Wells to the Tide 18. Four plays later, Dunn passed to Larry Smith for the game’s only touchdown.

Ole Miss’ Bobby Robinson recovered a Tide fumble at the Alabama 32 on the next possession and Dunn passed 23 yards to Fred Roberts to the 9-yard line. Dunn ran to the six, Roberts lost a yard and on third down Dunn completed a pass to Brown in the end zone, but Brown came down out of the end zone.

&uot;I was in bounds,&uot;&160;Brown said. &uot;They couldn’t see the marker because when they cleaned the snow they pushed it into the back of the end zone. The referee called that play from the 1-yard line.

On fourth down from the 7-yard line, Dunn went over the left side, but was stopped at the 2-yard line.

&uot;It was a rollout play and it was run all the way,&uot; Dunn said.

Ole Miss got the ball back at the Tide 41 and Dunn passed 21 yards to Mike Dennis to the 20-yard line. Dunn then threw an 11-yard strike to Joe Petty to the Alabama nine, but Petty fumbled the ball, which went out of bounds against a snow bank, but rolled back in and was recovered by Alabama’s Eddie Versprille.

That wasn’t the only unique thing about the game.

&uot;That was the year Joe Namath was kicked off the team by Bear Bryant,&uot; Dunn said. &uot;Steve Sloan played quarterback. I played with Steve in Atlanta for three years and we ended up being good friends.&uot;

Sloan would later coach at Ole Miss.

Joey Martin is sports editor of The Democrat. He can be reached by calling 446-5172 ext. 232 or at joey.martin@natchezdemocrat.com.