Saturday, October 4, 2014

UTA Football Game Five: End of the Line

The October 4, 1969 road match-up versus the East Texas State Lions, now known as Texas A&M-Commerce, was a milestone game for UTA football for many reasons. The main one being this would be the final game the two schools would play. The Lions and Mavericks first met in 1962 and played virtually every year until this one. Wherever the game was played would be one of the highest attended games of the season for either team. The UT Arlington Rebels were 4-2 all-time headed into this one.

The series would end as UTA sought University status, the equivalent of DI by today's standards. To attain that status, a team would have to play half its games against other NCAA University status schools. ETSU was a NAIA school. Unfortunately, this rivalry would end as UTA would try for the higher status and achieve it for the 1971 season.

That's part of the reason for UTA's decline in attendance in subsequent years. Replacing the likes of closer, smaller schools with a decent traveling fan base with games against Southwest Conference, Big Eight or even Mid American Conference schools hurt. Many of those schools never played UTA in the DFW area and those that did had few fans travel with the team. For a University that cited poor attendance as the major reason for disbanding the team, it isn't hard to think that playing a team like then-ETSU would have brought more fans than Angelo State (San Angelo, TX-four hours away) or Wichita State (Wichita, KS-5.5 hours away) did in 1985.

But back to 1969. This game was just a fun game. It wasn't decided until the end. UTA trailed in the second half before a back and forth affair developed. On top of that, several single-game records were set in this one, a couple which still sit at number one today, a few others still in the top three. In short, this was an exciting affair that pleased fans.

On This Day in UTA Football History, the Mavericks traveled to Commerce Texas to conclude the all-time  series against the East Texas State Lions.

Faulkner Wakes Up Rebs, 38-28

News Staff Writer
COMMERCE, Texas - Operating UT Arlington with computer-like precision, Ronnie Faulkner passed for 392 yards Saturday night as the Rebels folded, spindled and mutilated East Texas State's defense 38-28.

Faulkner, who came into the contest with a miserable passing percentage of just over 30, brought the Rebs to life offensively, hitting 23 of 37 passes for a school record and two touchdowns. UTA's running attack wasn't exactly squatting, either, as Marc Griffin scored twice on the ground and amassed 74 yards. Fullback Danny Griffin caught seven passes for 146 yards to account for a lot of Rebel offense.

East Texas took the initiative in the first half, jumping out to 14-2 and 21-10 leads with an equally impressive passing game.

THE CONTEST SAW an astounding 917 yards of offense, with UTA accounting for 489. ETSU's whirling  tailback Arthur James was his usual impressive self in rushing for 121 yards.

The Rebels hadn't allowed a TD pass before this game, but ET quarterback Jim Dietz wasted no time in erasing that point of pride. The 6-1 junior threw for three scores in the first half on passes of 11, 43 and 56 yards, and he only went to the air seven times in the half.

The Lions scored on their first possession after Jimmy Coker blocked a Skipper Butler punt to give ET a rather nice vantage point on the Reb 14. On third down, Dietz found Jim Parker on a short sideline pattern for six.

Later in the same quarter, George Daskalakes managed a 2-step lead past Reb defender Robert Evans, and hauled in a perfect pass for the second ET score.

UTA GOT TO THE scoreboard on a 25-yard field goal by Butler and a nifty 35-yard TD aerial from Faulkner to Ronnie Lewis.

On ET's next possession, James showed why he's known as "The King," taking a well-executed screen pass from Dietz. James waited for his line of blockers to form, then dashed about for a 56-yard touchdown, the first half's prettiest run.

But Faulkner came back with less than two minutes left in the half to guide another scoring drive, this one 62 yards, which left UTA only four down, 21-17, at the half. Nobody picked up end Dick Hill, who stood  in the end zone waving his arms frantically, (probably yelling, "Hit me, baby, I'm in the clear"). Faulkner obliged with an 11-yard scoring toss.

UTA continued its goalward momentum in the second half, scoring on a time-consuming 80-yard drive midway in the third quarter. Mixing his plays well, Faulkner took the Rebs to the ET 3, where Dave Taylor, a superior runner, replaced him at the helm and scored two plays later on a dive from the 2. UTA was ahead for the first time in the game, 24-21.

But not for long. Dietz's zippy right arm rifled three straight strikes to Daskalakes on the Lions next possession. The last covering 26 yards and into the UTA end zone.

The Rebs were so impressed by all this, they came back in turn on their next series to go ahead once more. This time the drive covered 77 yards with Marc Griffin doing most of the damage. The former Mesquite prepster hauled in two catches on the drive, then took a handoff at the 8-yard line and pumped his way into the end zone.

LARRY McGEE CAME up with perhaps the game's biggest defensive play, a diving interception on the UTA 28 to pull the plug on an ET drive.

The Lions promptly went down the drain - but not before a frustrating finale. A muffed snap from center on a Reb field goal attempt from the 50 gave the Lions better field position than they expected for their last drive of the contest.

It didn't last long. On second down, Linebacker Chris Ortman came up with a gut-high interception to finalize the proceedings, at least for East Texas.

Beginning on his own 33, Faulkner maneuvered the Rebels to the ET 10, the big play coming on a 36-yard pass and run by Danny Griffin. UTA was naturally in no hurry to put the ball in play and drove slowly to their final touchdown, which occurred with only 42 seconds remaining. On third and four, Marc Griffin bulled his way over for his second TD.

The win was UTA's fifth in succession over the Lions, and perhaps it was ET's, most frustrating defeat of the rivalry.

It was the last game of the series.

                                       ET              UTA
First Downs.....................19                 37
Rushing Yardage............170                 97
Passing Yardage.............258               392
Return Yardage................65                 87 
Passes....................11-21-2         23-39-1
Punts........................4-38.5               3-31
Fumbles Lost....................0                    0
Yards Penalized...........9-94               7-54
Thirty Dash............

Taken from the Dallas Morning News, 10-5-1969

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