Saturday, October 11, 2014

UTA Football Game Six: Bumblin' instead of Movin'

Prior to the October 11, 1980 home game against the West Texas State Buffaloes, the UT Arlington Mavericks 1980 preseason expectations seemed to be a millennia away. The new home smell had worn off, the 1979 record of 9-2 was a very distant memory and the team was 0-4 heading into the third home game of the season. On top of that, the team just looked generally uncompetitive at times and mistake prone at the worst of times.

A loss to a team like SMU and the Pony Express was understandable. But the previous week was a home loss to the Drake Bulldogs. The Mavs held a halftime lead but lost three fumbles and threw three interceptions en route to a 30-20 loss in front of a paltry crowd of 6,300.

At worst UTA should have been 2-2, but untimely mistakes, a hallmark of Coach Harold "Bud" Elliott's ten-year career, really cost the team. The same would ring true during this game

The West Texas State (now West Texas A&M) Buffaloes were a common UTA opponent. The teams first met in 1962 when UTA was the Arlington State College Rebels, a College Division team, the equivalent of DII today. Meanwhile WTSU was a University Division team, the highest level at the time and the results really showed that. UTA lost seven of the first eight games in the series. However after UTA moved to the University Division, the Mavs were 6-1against the Buffs. All the more impressive considering three of those wins were against a WTSU team that would finish .500 or better. This was generally a tougher team on the UTA schedule, yet unlike the other tough teams they played in the '70's, they actually fared well against them.

That wouldn't last in the early '80's as on This Day in UTA Football History, UTA hosts the West Texas State Buffaloes.

UTA drops another, this one to West Texas

Staff Writer of The News

ARLINGTON-UTA coach Bud Elliott has gone to great lengths this season explaining to his Movin' Mavs the merits of holding on to the football, but he doesn't seem to be getting through. UTA suffered it's fifth loss in as many starts Saturday night at Maverick Stadium, a 38-26 setback to West Texas State, and it was, of course, a key fumble that decided the game.

Coach Elliott, along with the fact that his Mavs had been making major ball control mistakes all season, was complaining that his team wasn't making the big plays in the first four losses. Saturday, UTA got numerous big plays in key fourth down situations, but it was a fourth quarter fumble that erased hope for the Mavs first season win and for the first victory in the new 16,000-seat stadium.

Behind quarterback Scott Logan, the Mavs drove to WTSU's 15-yard line, trailing 31-26 with 9:50 left in the game. The UTA offense was moving fluidly, as it had all evening, but Buff defensive back Daryl Hemphill shot through the Mav offensive line on the next play and scored a direct hit on Logan. The ball bounced free and Hemphill recovered 21 yards back on WTSU's 36-yard line.

THE BUFFS took the ball and drove 64 yards in nine plays as second-string quarterback Ricky Davis hit Ricky Collinsworth with a 25-yard touchdown pass, safely sealing the 12-point victory.

A win would have been a big one for the Mavs, trying to crack the win column for the first time this season. And West Texas State, at 3-2, was a decided favorite. The buffs had scored a victory over Oklahoma State earlier this season and the only losses were to Southwest Conference member Baylor and McNeese State.

But West Texas State, whose defense had been the guiding factor in the Buffs' three wins, gave up 390 yards to the Mavs while a once sluggish offense churned up 373 yards and 38 points.

But UTA still found some bright spots in the loss, especially with the fact that the Mavs were moving and seemed to be getting the big plays this time when needed.

On the fourth-quarter scoring drive that resulted in a fumble, the Mavs converted on a fourth-and-1 situation and later, on third-and-6, Logan tossed a 16-yard pass to Gary Lewis that took the Mavs to WTSU's 15.

"But we're still encountering problems holding onto the ball," Elliott said, "and the mistakes are being made by experienced players."

UTA scored early, taking the opening kickoff 68 yards in 10 plays for the touchdown. On third-and 11, UTA's Tony Felder rambled 14 yards for the score.

But fumbles returned. The Mav defense had sufficiently held the Buffs offense on WTSU's following series, forcing a punt. UTA's Don DeLeo tried to field the ball on his own three yard line, but fumbled and the ball bounced back into the end zone. Paul Bell recovered the ball for WTSU for a touchdown.

After that, both defenses fell apart. On UTA's next possession, Logan and leading rusher Paul Jessie led a 9-play, 75 yard drive with Logan hitting Lewis on an 11-yard pass for a touchdown and a 14-7 UTA lead. Two minutes later, the Buffs completed 81 yards in 10 plays for the score, tying the game 14-14 at the close of the second quarter.

The Buffs added another second quarter touchdown with Jackie Compton going over from the two for his second touchdown of the evening. UTA had two drives stalled short of the goal and Brian Happel completed two field goals, including a personal best of 48-yards, closing the gap to a 21-20 WTSU lead at half.

THE BUFFS scored again early in the third quarter to build a 28-20 lead. But UTA kept pace. The Mavs, on the next series, drove 52 yards in six plays with Logan pitching to Jessie for the 3-yard score. Logan kept on the 2-point conversion, which would have tied the game, but was stopped short of the UTA goal.

UTA stopped the Buffs on their next possession, but the following UTA drive was again stopped by a fumble. Hemphill recovered for WTSU and the Buffs drove to the UTA 25 and Rob Clark booted a field goal, making the score 31-26.

What followed was the game deciding UTA fumble and the WTSU wrap-up score.

UTA Jessie turned in an excellent game, rushing for 122 yards on just 14 carries. Logan also bettered his mark this time around, completing nine of 18 attempts for 138 yards.

West Texas State      14   7   7   10 - 38
UT Arlington            14   6   6    0  - 26
UTA-Felder 14 run (Happel kick)
WTSU-Bell recovered fumble in end zone (R. Clark kick)
UTA-Lewis 11 pass from Logan (Happel kick)
WTSU-Compton 1 run (R. Clark kick)
UTA-Happel 48 FG
WTSU-Compton 2 run (R. Clark kick)
UTA-Happel 33 FG
WTSU-D. Clark 1 run (R. Clark kick) UTA-Jessie 3 run (run failed)
WTSU-R. Clark 43 FG
WTSU-Collinsworth 25 pass from R. Davis (R. Clark kick)

                              WTSU        UTA
First downs                   27           24
Rushing yards              275          234
Passing yards                98          156
Passes                   7-14-0   10-20-1
Punts                     4-38.7          1-19
Fumbles-lost               5-1            4-3
Penalties-yards          9-97         9-87
RUSHING-WTSU-Jackie Compton 20-122; UTA-Phillip Jessie 14-122
PASSING-WTSU-Matt Patterson 6-12 73; UTA-Scott Logan 9-18-1 138
RECIEVING -WTSU-Ricky Collinsworth 3-54; UTA-Gary Lewis 4-80

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