Quarterback Doug Wilson was returning, who led the Rebels in passing, rushing and total yards the previous season. But otherwise, the team was rebuilding.
For the opening, ASC would face the West Texas State Buffaloes. They were a University Division opponent, today's equivalent of FBS. UTA, meanwhile was a College Division, which the closest equivalent is Division II. The previous year, the Buffs destroyed ASC 49-0.
Late Run by Pistol Pete Beats Arlington 22-17
By Harless Wade
News Staff Writer
CANYON, Texas - Arlington State's battle-hungry Rebels kept the devilish legs of Pistol Pete Pedro pinned for more than 45 minutes, but in a 52-yard flurry that took less than five seconds, he broke from his Buffalo Bowl corral and warmed the hearts of 15,945 West Texans here Saturday night.
In the wake of his gridiron rhapsody, the dark skinned Buffalo halfback left the gallant but bruised troops of Arlington State a fallen foe, 22-17.
The West Texas star, carrying the trademarks of an All-American, took a last-second pitchout from Buff quarterback Hoot Gibson, ricocheted off a Rebel defender near the line of scrimmage and out-maneuvered a half dozen foes en route to the double-stripe.
Until Pedro swallowed the Rebels in that one great burst of speed, they were trailing only six points and carrying the fight to their hosts all the way.
"It was pretty obvious that it was Pedro's run that killed us," ASC coach Chena Gilstrap said moments after the game. "An average back wouldn't have made two yards on that one, but you can take it from us, he is no average back."
It was the night's lone touchdown for the flying fragment of West Texas, who has produced more 6-pointers in the last two years than any back in the nation. But it was what Doc Joe Kerbel needed to quell a Rebel uprising that threatened to spoil the season-opener for a team billed as among Texas' best.
Arlington State, a 4-touchdown underdog, made it clear early that no Buffalo stampede would take place on this cool evening.
Rebel halfback Roger Richardson convinced the West Texans the Arlington team came to make amends for last years 49-0 defeat in a hurry when he swiped a Gibson pass in the game's opening drive and scampered 33 yards to score.
Fullback Al Smith's extra-point kick was blocked but the West Texas audience sat in silent disbelief at a 6-0 ASC lead with the affair only 4:42 old.
A few minutes later the Buff's charged 57 yards to the ASC 1, only where the Rebel second unit held.
But the Buffs exploded just deep in the second half [quarter]. They moved 60 yards in just five plays, with Gibson doing the hatchet work on a couple of rollouts and fullback Ollie Ross finishing it up with a 1-yard crack at the middle.
Ross then kicked the Buffs in front 7-6.
That was the way it stood at halftime, although sub quarterback Ed Noble and halfback Kenneth Vaughn combined on a 42-yard pass on the first half's final play to send chills all over the Buffs. Vaughn caught the pass stumbling near the WTS 20 and struggled to the 13 before falling untouched. Only two seconds remained and the REBS never got off a play.
With Doug Wilson engineering, the Rebs took the second half kickoff and paraded 47 yards to the Buffs 10 before an offside penalty penalty put kinks to the drive. But the Rebs managed to regain the lead when Smith booted a 32-yard field goal.
The Rebels saw their 9-7 lead vanish on the next WTS series after the field goal. the Buff payoff came on a 30-yard pitch from Gibson to halfback Jerry Richardson, who had worked behind a Rebel defender in the end zone on a fourth down situation. That was all the scoring until Pedro, who closed out as the game's top rusher with 162 yards on 27 carries, took off on his back-breaker. The Rebels made one more gallant bid, scoring on a great catch by Vaughn, Wilson fired a 15-yarder, which bounced out of the hands of Buff defender Gibson. Vaughn, falling, pulled in the ball for six points to climax a 59-yard ASC drive.
Wilson then flipped Vaughn a 2-pointer.