The fourth game of the year was a local rival. East Texas State, now known as Texas A&M-Commerce, was one of the, if not the, most attended game of the year for both squads. The mix of fans from both sides added a dimension not usually seen at either schools home games. The games were usually close and fun to watch. Many of the program records UTA has to this day were set against the Lions, despite 150 or so games played after they were originally set. At least three UTA-ETSU games are still in the UTA record books.
Since they first met in 1962, they played every year minus one. The Lions won the first two meetings, but the Mavericks had won the previous three coming into this one.
This series was the eventual victim of UTA's push to move up the the highest level. The last time these teams played was in 1969. I have wondered what would have happened had these two still met every year or two. UTA's attendance average certainly would have been better. Enough to save the program? Doubtful, but as we saw in the last installment of this series, UTA dropped the 1985 season opener against a DII squad. Losing to East Texas State surely would have been better than to Angelo, since more visiting fans would have bought tickets. Again, I can't say that would have saved the program, but surely it wouldn't have hurt. Also, Angelo State was the number one ranked DII team, something ETSU couldn't claim in the '80's.
I won't usually do this, but I will alter the following game story just a bit. I will put in italics parts of the story in order to show the UTA records that still stand.
Records Fall As Rebs Win
By Mike Jones
News Staff Writer
ARLINGTON - No doubt about it, fans, this was truly one for the records books as a gutty University of Texas Arlington comeback overcame a 17-point first half East Texas lead and the Rebels saved a 12-game home winning streak by tripping the Lions 41-30, in a rock 'em sock 'em intersectional clash.
The talented toe of Rebel kicker Skipper Butler accounted for two records before an SRO crowd of 10,500 and put the Lions with their backs to the wall to set up what could have been the winning margin on a safety in the final period.
Butler booted a 60-yard field goal in the second quarter and kicked four for the night for a school and Southland Conference record for the longest field goal and most in one game.
COMING BACK from a 27-16 halftime deficit, the Rebs took the lead for good with 10:27 left in the game. After Butler punted dead on the 2-yard line, using a bit of reverse english on the pigskin, guard Monty Tolleson roared in to block a Jim Dietz punt in the end zone for a safety and a 31-30 lead.
UTA quarterback Mike Baylor cinched it following the ensuing free kick on a 54-yard bomb to end Jimmy Thomas, enabling Thomas to set a school record of 18 career touchdowns. Baylor notched records for most passes completed in one game (22), most yards passed for in one game (372), single game total offense (361), and past the 2-mile mark for career offense-you guessed it, another pacesetter.
Butler added a 24-yard insurance field goal with 7:15 to play.
ET HAD JUMPED to a short-lived 30-29 lead on a 27-yard Mike Regian kick in the third quarter. The boot overcame a UTA advantage of 29-27 which the Rebels had garnered on a 9-yard pass from Baylor to end Dick Hill and a Butler conversion.The Rebs had previously closed the gap to 27-22 on yet another Baylor pass - this time for 12 yards to wingback Mike Buchanan.
Thomas also set a UTA mark for receiving in one game with 219 yards on six catches, and Jim Marcum's three interceptions tied one more school record.
On the Lions' side, back Arthur James hit two East Texas career marks previously held by coach Sam McCord of most carried (387) and yards rushing (1,951). Ah, but that's not all folks. ET split end Tom Black also set a couple of career marks for the most catches (71) and total yardage (1,145).
The Lions began with the greatest of ease, scoring the first three times they had possession and using only 12 plays to rack up 20 points.
ET moved 55 yards in four plays on its first drive after forcing UTA to punt, with Kirkland hitting end Richard Houston on the key play for 43 yards to the Rebels' 7. Kirkland scored from the five and Mark Regian added the PAT.
Mike Fields blocked a Butler punt and Mike Kingcaid recovered on the UTA 25 to set up the next score. Kickland hit Houston from 24 yards for the clincher. Regian's kick was wide.
Butler hit a 45-yard field goal after a Rebel drive stalled at the Lion 28 following the kickoff.
East Texas roared right back to score in five plays, covering 80 yards. Kickland hit Tom Black deep in the end zone from the 28 and Black's name went into the books on that one. Regian converted for a 20-3 lead.
UTA took the kickoff and drove 83 yards with Baylor scoring from the 2 for the first touchdown for the year for the Rebels. On the third play of the second quarter, Butler uncorked his fantastic 60-yard field goal to cap a 6-play drive from the Reb 22 to make it 20-13.
Butler added his third field goal from the ET 30 at an angle from the right hash mark with 10:17 in the half on the next series.
The Kirland to Houston combination clicked for 15 yards to make it 26-16 with 5:31 to go in the first half, and Regian made it 27 with his kick.