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Clarke Lone WVU Player On Sun Team


July 7, 2008
By Mickey Furfari

MORGANTOWN - The Sun Bowl Association has named 75 outstanding football players to its 75th Anniversary All-Sun Bowl Team, and the late Harry "Flash" Clarke is West Virginia University's only representative.

Old-timers still around will remember him as one of the greatest halfbacks ever to perform in a Mountaineer uniform. He was a starter on the 1937-38-39 teams coached by the late Dr. Marshall "Little Sleepy" Glenn.

Clarke was honored mainly for his performance in the 7-6 upset of Texas Tech on Jan. 1, 1938, in El Paso, Texas. The speedy sophomore rushed for 132 yards in that contest and had a 92-yard touchdown run called back because of a holding infraction.

Earlier that season Clarke ran for a career-high 153 yards on 28 carries in a 13-7 victory over Xavier in Cincinnati. That 1937 team finished with an 8-1-1 record, the lone loss coming to eventual national champion Pitt, 20-0.

The 6-0, 170-pound Clarke rushed for a then-school-record 921 yards in 1938 as junior. He is a member of the all-time time for the period 1930-39.

Like tackle Joe Stydahar (1938-34-35), Clarke did not receive any national honors until he and Stydahar became teammates on the great Chicago Bears teams in 1940. Despite being an 11th-round pick in the NFL draft, Clarke did the improbable and earned a starting job as a rookie.

He rushed for 258 yards and was the only player to score twice in the Bears' 73-0 rout of the Washington Redskins in the NFL championship game. That remains the most lopsided title tussle in the league's history.

Clarke helped the "Monsters of the Midway" to two more NFL crowns before leaving for World War II military service in 1944. He was chosen twice for the Pro Bowl.

His finest year as a professional was 1943 when he rushed for 556 yards, third highest total in the league, and scored five touchdowns as a rusher, receiver and kick returner.

He was named to the all-NFL team as a running back by both wire services.

After being discharged from the Navy, Clarke played three more seasons with the Los Angeles Dons and the Chicago Rockets in the newly formed American Football Conference before retiring as a player in 1948.

In all, he totaled more than 1,700 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving for his eight-year professional career.

Clarke and wife Lillian returned to Morgantown where he worked in the hydraulic business until his retirement in 1978. Son Scott still resides here.

The all-time WVU great was born in Cumberland, Md., but grew up in Uniontown, Pa., before settling in Morgantown for the long haul. He was so productive as a player by combining talent, shifty moves and speed with intelligence.

He was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 1993. He also is a member of halls of fame in West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

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West Virginia University distance runner Keri Bland took seventh in the second heat of the 1,500-meter semifinals at the USA Olympic Trials Friday night in Eugene, Ore.

The Fairview native and North Marion graduate ran a personal-best time of 4:16.05 en route to finishing 15th overall. Nike's Shannon Rowbury posted the top time of 4:11.75 in the event. The top six times in each heat qualified for Sunday's 1,500 final.

"I would say that was the greatest race she has ever run in her life," head coach Sean Cleary said. "Not only was it a personal best, but to handle the pressure as a sophomore in college against the greatest runners in the country is thrilling beyond belief."

Only two competitors currently with college track programs finished ahead of Bland, Baylor's Lauren Hagans (14th, 4:15.01) and Tennessee's Sarah Bowman (11th, 4:13.29).

Bland recently completed her sophomore season at West Virginia and became the first female to earn All-America honors in three sports in the same school year.



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