Saturday, September 13, 2014

UTA Football Game Two, A Milestone Victory

If you recall from last year's This Day in UTA Football History series, UTA made the jump to the highest level of football (Football Bowl Subdivision or FBS today) in 1971. In that time, there had been few wins, 12 in four years, an average of three a year. West Texas State (1971 and 1972) and North Texas (1973) were the programs marquess wins. In short, the UTA program needed a major shot in the arm.

1975 saw the start of Head Coach Harold "Bud" Elliott's second year. At ten years total, he is the longest serving coach in program history at the four-year level (ten seasons). He also has the most wins (46), but has the second lowest winning percentage (.418) of the five candidates on the list. His first year was his roughest at a 1-10 record. The first game and the ninth of that season can be found here.

The  1975 season started out in typical fashion for the Mavericks, a loss. In fact, the 1970's, which laid the groundwork for apathy at the school and the program's eventually demise, was a dismal decade for season openers. UTA was 2-8 in season openers from 1970-79. And the month of September was worse. The Mavericks had seven wins during the decade for the entire month of September! 7-29. You want to kill a program. Get rid of enthusiasm at the very beginning of the season every season by being out of it before it begins. Out of those 36 games, only five were at home, where they were 2-3. Two wins at home in the month of September in the entire decade! Geeeeeeezus! Wanna know why UTA had no fans. Look no further. Never play at home, come back with losing record every year for the month, play off campus and then wonder why no one comes to games.

Even games at local neutral sites at Texas Stadium and the Cotton Bowl during that stretch were equally as pathetic (1-4). In short, a betting person would have won a ton of money going against UTA playing in September. September 12, 1975 would appear to fit that bill.

UTA was coming off a 27-14 loss to North Texas at Texas Stadium. The game was nowhere near as close as the score indicated. After a 1-10 season, it looked like another long season on the horizon. The offense, a wishbone set led by quarterback Doug Dobbins and featured future NFL players Derrick Jensen, a fullback who is UTA's leading career rusher, and wide receiver Ronnie Barnett, was dominated by the Mean Green defense. UTA's D played well, but gave up four scoring drives of 22 yards or less, thanks to myriad turnovers which defined the Bud Elliott tenure.

UTA's opponent was the Texas Christian Horned Frogs. Hardly, a powerhouse, TCU hadn't had a winning season since 1971 when they went 6-4-1. In fact, the last time TCU had won more than six games was an 8-3 mark in 1959, UTA's first year as a four-year school. Still, the pecking order was clear. Any Southwest Conference school should beat any Southland school, especially considering UTA wasn't at the top of the standings in the SLC at that time.

On September 12, 1975, (a rare Friday game for the Mavs) could UTA deliver an upset to TCU's season opener? The odds were against it, but as they say, the games aren't played on paper.

Mavs marvelous, down Frogs, 24-7

Staff Writer of the News
FORT WORTH-The University of Texas at Arlington's football fortunes took one giant step forward Friday night as the Mavericks followed the ramblings of quarterback Doug Dobbins to a stunning 24-7 upset of TCU at Amon Carter Stadium.

The decisive victory threw more firewood on UTA's effort to compete with major college elevens and allows the Mavericks to linger on this ice cream cone until 1979, the next meeting between the two schools.

Young Mr. Dobbins brought the sputtering Mav offense to life early in the second period and suddenly for the first time in the short 6-game history of the neighborhood series UTA actually led. Place kicker Chris Walker had put the Mavs on the scoreboard with a 34-yard field goal at 11:18 and 5 plays later the visitors went to work on TCU's 7-3 lead.

Dobbins, a junior college transfer, from Aurora, Ill., started to run circles around the Frog defensive ends and the blue-clad offense ignited. First, Dobbins tacked on 27 with a nifty right end sweep for a first down at the TCU 21. The next time the shifty signal-caller pitched late to his trailing back, Rickey Kelly, and the play stood up for 10.

One play later Dobbins rolled out left for 10 to the 4 and then scored after a good fake to his fullback off the left side. The nine play drive covered 60 yards and suddenly UTA had one of its few halftime leads in recent seasons.

A 24-yard field goal was short by Walker early in the third period and TCU missed from UTA's 23 with 2:27 left, setting up a fourth period battle for the purple roses.

UTA stung the Friday night crowd early in that final 15 minutes as D.J. Williams picked off a Lee Cook pass at the hosts' 23, returning the pigskin to the 18. Halfback Jimmy Bailey bullied his way off right guard for six and then fullback Derrick Jensen got a vital first down at the Frog 8. The roof then caved in on the SWC entry at this point as Jensen ran over two linebackers and a safety to score from eight yards out.

Jensen's TD took the wind out of the Frogs sails and safety Ed Favors put a little icing on the cake with a pass theft with 3:49 left in the game. The Lancaster senior picked off a TCU pass at the Frog 49 and nine plays later Dobbins found a leaping Ronnie Barnett in the far corner of the hosts' end zone.

Dobbins pass was good for six points from 10 yards out and came with just 15 seconds to play. Walker's PAT made it 24-7 and UTA partisans had much to cheer about on the short 15 mile trek home.

TCU's only score came about as UTA got a little jumpy on third and fourth down situations early in the game. One offsides kept the drive alive at the TCU 49 and a personal foul infraction on fourth and one moved the pigskin to the UTA 25. Cook came out firing following the big UTA gift and hit sophomore Mike Renfro for 23 yards to the 2. Halfback Ricky Wright leaped off his own left tackle to score and TCU seemed off to the races with a 7-0 margin, 7 minutes deep in the contest.

                                   UTA              TCU
First downs....................21                  12
Rushing yardage...........245                  -2
Passing yardage.............66                149
Passes....................6-12-1         12-33-5
Punts..........................5-33           4-34.5
Penalties....................4-42               5-41

UT-Arlington..........0  10  0  14-24
Texas Christian.......7   0   0   0- 7

TCU-Wright 2 run (Isel Kick)
UTA-FG Walker 34
UTA-Dobbins 2 run (Walker kick)
UTA-Jensen eight run (Walker kick)
UTA-Barnett 10 pass from Dobbins (Walker kick)


Taken from the Dallas Morning News, 9-13-1975

UTA-Jensen 23-105, Dobbins 17-74, Kelly 12-37, Bailey 11-30, Garner 2-(-1), Barnett 1-1.
TCU-Wright 10-30, Cowan 5-12, Modzelewski 4-2, Littleton 3-(-1), Elzner 2-(-15), Cook 4-(-30).
UTA-Dobbins 12-6-1-66
TCU-Cook 22-9-4-106, Elzner 11-3-1-43.
UTA-Barnett 3-31, Benson 2-24, Albright 1-11.
TCU-Renfro 4-75, Parker 3-46, Wells 2-19, Modzelewski 1-11, Cowan 1-(-8), Wright 1-6.

Taken from the Fort Worth Star Telegram, 9-13-1975

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