UTA came into this game with a 4-3 record. They were on a two-game winning streak and had won four of the last five (two of which were published on this blog in the This Day In UTA Football series). More importantly, they were 2-0 in conference play and at the top of the Southland Conference standings.
This week, UTA traveled to Jonesboro to face long time conference foe Arkansas State, who had chartered the conference with UTA. Tied with Lamar, UTA had faced Arkansas State more than any other team, as this would be the 22nd meeting.
The Indians (now known as the Red Wolves) were in the race for the SLC crown as well, as they had a 4-3 overall record and a 2-1 conference mark. Two of their losses were to Ole Miss and Mississippi State by a combined ten points. In the SLC, they lost to McNeese State 15-13, beat North Texas 56-0 and Louisiana Tech 31-13. A win would have kept UTA at the top of the SLC as the only unbeaten team in the conference.
Sophomore quarterback Dwane Brown, who already was a second year starter, led the ASU attack. The Indians were primarily a running team, as they played out of the wishbone. He is currently sixth all-time in total yardage at ASU and he retired as the second. His 1985 season ranks 14th as single-season yardage leaders at ASU. At the time it was first. So in essence, he was the equivalent of UTA's Roy DeWalt in the late 1970's. He also retired as ASU's third all-time leading rusher and is still tenth overall.
Add junior running back Rickey Jemmison, who was the leading rusher for the Indians as a sophomore in 1984, and would be in 1985 and 1986. He finished as ASU's second all-time leading rusher. While he didn't quite have the numbers of fellow fullback Derrick Jensen, he was a threat all the same. In short, ASU had a potent rushing offense.
Passing was another story. They could, but were average at best. Cazzy Francis was the team's leading receiver in 1985 as he had 32 catches for 667 yards in 13 games. ASU's offense was very similar to UTA in the mid-to-late '70's.
On the defensive side, ASU was no slouch. Marvin Neloms would finish the year with 11 sacks, which was first in the single-season record book at the time, and is still third overall for one season. Neloms to this day has more sacks than any other Arkansas State player. Add in teammate Michael Cline who is tied for ninth overall in career sacks and David Bates and the offensive line would have a challenge avoiding sacks.
Greg Lee would tie a record in this game that still stands as he would pick off three David Bates passes. His six in 1985 is in a tie for sixth most interceptions in one season.
The mid-80's were one of the better periods in ASU football history. They would make the 1-AA playoffs from 1984-87. Larry Lacewell was the coach during this period and he is first in coaching wins at ASU. For a bit of local flavor, he would later become the Dallas Cowboys Director of Scouting.
Missed 29-yard FG costs UTA a victoryBy Steve Tracy
Staff Writer of The News
JONESBORO, Ark. - UT-Arlington kicker Scott Roper hit four field goals, but missed the game winner with five seconds remaining as Arkansas State handed the Mavericks their first Southland Conference loss 13-12 Saturday at Indian Stadium.
Roper, who connected on kicks of 32, 38, 50 and 21 yards, kicked a 29-yarder with five seconds remaining that officials judged to be wide right, knocking the Mavericks out of first place in the SLC.
"The people who made that call (wide right) are going to have that on their conscience for a long time," UTA coach Chuck Curtis said. "Both our holder and our ends said it was good. It didn't veer right until after it went through (the goal posts)."
It was a disappointing and bitter loss for the Mavericks, who dominated the statistics and the game. UTA (4-4) falls to 2-1 in the SLC and must now sweep its remaining three games to stay in contention for the conference title and an NCAA playoff bid.
"Let's get them back on the field right now," Curtis said. "We'd whip their..."
UTA dominated on offense and defense - totaling 18 first downs to ASU's eight and 396 yards total offense to 249.
But it was two big plays by Arkansas State (5-3, 3-1) that decided the game. Before an Indian homecoming crowd of 13,640, Arkansas State backs broke two long runs out of the wishbone offense for touchdowns.
On the Indians first possession of the second half, ASU fullback Rickey Jemison broke up the right side for a 62-yard touchdown run with 11:42 remaining in the third quarter. It brought the Indians within two, 9-7, after UTA had taken a 9-0 halftime lead on three Roper field goals.
Roper kicked his fourth - a 21-yarder - to give UTA a 12-7 lead but on the second play of the fourth quarter, ASU quarterback Dwane Brown broke down the right sideline for a 71-yard touchdown run.
A pass attempt on a two-point conversion failed, giving the Indians a 13-12 lead.
UTA quarterback David Bates, who passed for 287 yards but threw five interceptions, brought the Mavericks back down the field in the closing minutes of the game. Facing third-and-7 from the ASU 13, Bates let the clock run down to five seconds and then called a timeout to set up the field goal.
"You can write it anyway you want, but it starts with luck," ASU coach Larry Lacewell said. "It's the first field goal I can remember being missed on us in a critical situation."
The Arkansas State wishbone produced 250 yards rushing - with 133 coming on the two touchdown runs. Brown completed only 3-of-15 for minus-1 yard.
"In a lot of ways, they deserved the win," Lacewell said, "but at the same time, you've got to do it all."
None of Bates' five interceptions were in crucial situations. The junior completed 19-of-33, including six to James White for 80 yards. ASU's Greg Lee had three of the interceptions.
Freshman Tony Brown led UTA in rushing with 60 yards on 20 carries. The Mavericks gained 109 yards rushing on 47 carries. Maverick Randy Parham led the defense with seven tackles, an interception and two fumble recoveries.
"It's the best effort of any team I've ever coached," Curtis said. "We just shouldn't have let the final score come down to just one play."
The Mavericks now must face McNeese State on the road before returning home against defending Southland Conference champion Louisiana Tech.
"We've got to come back and eliminate the hurt to come back for another road trip," Curtis said. "Now we don't have any room for error."
TEXAS-ARLINGTON............0 9 3 0-12
ARKANSAS STATE...............0 0 7 6-13
UTA - FG Roper 32
UTA - FG Roper 38
UTA - FG Roper 50
ASU - Jemison 62 run (Reed kick)
UTA - FG Roper 21
ASU - Brown 71 run (run failed)
A - 13,640
First downs...................18 8
Passing yards..............287 -1
Return yards...................6 37
Time of possession...37:07 22:53
Rushing - UTA: Tony Brown 20-60, Jarvis McKyer 14-34, David Bates 12-17, Carlton Liggins 1-(-12); Arkansas State: Rickey Jemison 11-102, Dwane Brown 13-69, Preston Maddox 9-41, Boris Whiteside 5-38.
Passing - UTA: Bates 19-33-5-287; Arkansas State: Brown 3-15-2-(-1).
Receiving - UTA: James White 6-80, Keith Arbon 5-75, J. McKyer 3-43, Tim McKyer 1-53, Tim Drillette 1-21, Don DeLozier 1-12, Dean Teyki 1-11, Brown 1-(-8); Arkansas State: Maddox 2-3, Whiteside 1-(-4).