Sunday, October 19, 2014

UTA Football Game Seven: Overpowered

For today's installment of This Day in UTA Football History, I did something a little different than normal. I picked the entry based on the team, rather than game or year. I have said many a time that one of the big causes for the attendance decline was a tough non-conference schedule. The UT Arlington Mavericks played away almost every game in September during the 1970's. They played tough teams. By the time they came back, they were two to four games below .500. Fans then didn't want to come to games. Today is a great example of the tough non-conference competition.

The Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles were an independent team during their contests with UTA. The series began in 1961, but the teams met seven times in the 1970's, with coach Harold "Bud" Elliott manning four of those. It would have been at least one extra in both categories but a 1979 affair was canceled when USM had a chance to add an SEC team. The series was never renewed past that.

Southern Miss, up until a two years ago, was a powerhouse. They own dozens of wins against today's P5 schools, and really could have fared well against any team from the SEC in that time. In fact, they were often better than Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Despite two SEC schools in the same state, it wasn't uncommon for the Eagles to be the best team from Mississippi. On occasion, they were also a top 25 team. And UTA squared off against them repeatedly.

The results were predictable. UTA played USM 10 times total, one of the higher non-conference meetings UTA had with any team. They also have ten losses against USM. When both teams were University/Division I teams, the closest score was an 11-point difference. When UTA played in Hattiesburg, Miss, it was a September loss. When UTA hosted, it was an October or occasional November loss. Either way, UTA lost.

To give a little perspective, UTA all-time as a four-year University owned a record of 129-150-2. So six and two thirds percent of those losses were against one clearly superior team. So with that dreary setup, on this day in 1975, UTA hosted the University of Southern Mississippi at Arlington Stadium.

UTA offense on defensive


Don't bet the University of Southern Mississippi was looking ahead to Louisiana Tech next week or a Louisiana Superdome date with Lamar the next week or even the following week versus powerful Alabama.

No, all the looking was aimed straight for the University of Texas-Arlington Saturday night at Arlington Stadium and the visitors from Hattiesburg came away with a 34-7 margin over the offensive-void Mavericks.

Wwell, there was some offense by the Mavericks, a 79-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Craig Carney to Clifton Williams with 2:49 left in the game, but things had already been settled. All the Gatorade was gone.

WILLIAMS DID give the sparse Maverick crowd something to talk about, however, taking the ball all alone around the 40 and taunting the Golden Eagle defender with an outstretched finger the remaining yards. Supposedly that is a penalty this year but the refs declined to take that option. It mattered little anyway.

When the UTA defense did pop up with a turnover, such as two pass interceptions in the first half by Eugene Ayers and Lance Stephens, the offense sputtered-badly. In fact, in the first half the Mavs could only muster a lonely first down. The second half picked up, however, with UTA getting five. You get the picture.

The punting game improved with only one miscue. That was a blocked punt by Clemon Ector of USM, but fortunately for UTA, the defense halted the Eagles from scoring that time. Other than that punter Chris Walker handled his chores without a costly error.

Southern Mississippi, upping its' record to 3-3, used eight folks carrying the ball with 327 rushing yards. Carlos Montgomery was the top gainer with 79 yards and that included touchdown runs of 1, 3 and 4. Ben Garry was next with 69 yards and Curtis Dickey got 57.

Golden Eagle quarterback Jeff Bower, an able runner and passer, hit Wally Ballard on a 6-yard pass for the first score with 1:54 left in the first quarter and Mike Wright kicked the first of his four extra points.

MONTGOMERY"S THREE TDs came in succession, in the second, third and fourth quarters, before reserve quarterback Ken Alderman came in for the Eagles and tossed a 31-yard scoring strike to John Cannon.

If there was a bright spot for the Mavericks it would have to be the kickoff returns of Ayers. He had enough practice. Ayers, a senior from Caldwell, ran back three for 71 yards and on the year he is getting over 20 yards per try.

The defeat broke the Mavericks hold on winning every other ball game. Losing the first to North Texas, coming back for the big win over TCU, then losing to Louisiana Tech, whipping West Texas and losing to McNeese. It made the Mavs 2-4 on the season and was the second straight loss.

Defensive leaders for UTA were linebacker Stephens, tackle Tom Slaughter and freshman Philmore Peterson of Dallas Carter. Stephens got 20 tackles with a fumble.

Rickey Kelley, a junior from Georgia, was the leading Maverick rusher with 32 of the 53 yards. There's not much you can say past that.

                                   S. Miss           UTA
First downs...........................3                6
Rushing yardage................327               53
Passing yardage................130               95
Passes.........................8-15-2        4-10-0
Passes interc.........................0                 2
Fumbles lost..........................1                2
Punts...............................1-23           7-35
Yards penalized...............6-50            5-37

Southern Miss..........7   7   7   13 - 34
UTA........................0   0   0    7 - 7
USM-Ballard 6 pass from Bower (Wright kick).
USM-Montgomery 1 run (Wright kick).
USM-Montgomery 3 run (Wright kick).
USM- Montgomery 4 run (Wright kick).
USM- Cannon 31 pass from Alderman (kick failed).
UTA-C. Williams 79 pass from Carney (Walker kick)

Taken from the Dallas Morning News, 10-19-1975.

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