Saturday, November 22, 2014

UTA Football Game 11: End on a High

I would have liked to spend more time on the 1969 team. It was the biggest transition season in the history of UT Arlington football. UTA won the 1967 Southland Conference title. The 1968 squad lost a one-point game at home against the Arkansas State Indians that would basically send the winner to the Pecan Bowl after winning the conference title. That also ended a 15-game home winning streak at Memorial Stadium.

A lot of the firepower from those two years were gone by 1969, but the offense was still quite potent. Offensively, UTA was still a force to be reckoned with, though they averaged the lowest points scored per game since 1966. The defense was near the same level, but again, like the offense, not as good as the 1967 team.

The main difference came from who UTA played. The Rebels had their sights on moving to the University level. Back then, that was the highest level in the NCAA and the way to join those ranks were pretty easy. Half your schedule had to be against other University teams, and UTA really began that process in 1969. UTA would play against three University teams in 1969, four in 1970 and six in 1971, completing their ascension to the highest level.

How that would begin for UTA in '69 is hard to imagine by today's standards. Three University-level teams actually would play in Arlington. That very rarely happens in this era where FCS virtually always play in FBS stadiums when they play higher-level opponents. But that sets up the paradox that was the 1969 team from the previous seasons.

After losing only one home game the previous three seasons, UTA was winless a in Memorial by the time their home finale rolled around. The irony is they were 4-1 on the road, so they were by no stretch a bad team.

They lost the three home games against University opponents. Two were against familiar schools, 16-7 to New Mexico State and 41-7 to West Texas State. They also hosted San Diego State, the three-time defending College Division national champions who were competing for the first time as a University school and were just as competitive as the three previous years. UTA lost 27-10. The Rebels were hoping for some of their previous home magic, but they got none.

When conference play rolled around, one of the top two teams, Abilene Christian, came to Arlington. Once again the Rebs lost, though this was at least within a touchdown at 28-24. ACU would finish the year 8-2. That left just one game left for UTA to finish with a win in Arlington. Luckily, it was a team that was struggling, good ole Lamar Tech.

After this game, it was going to be a long time before the Mavericks would see a .500 winning percentage or better to end a season, something unfathomable during the '60's. UTA would finish 1969 5-5. It would be 1979 before UTA would have less losses than wins. In fact, there would only be three more winning seasons until the team was disbanded in 1985.

Last depressing point I want to make until the game story. UTA brought in over 9,000 in attendance three times in 1969. That would never happen again. Only 1984 would draw over 9,000 more than once. This really was the end of the golden era of UTA football.

On This Day in UTA Football History, UTA ends the 1969 season against Lamar on a high (remember, I type the stories as they appeared, errors and all).

Rebs Rip Cards 53-16

Star-Telegram Sports Writer
ARLINGTON - UT-Arlington's once-sputtering offense came to life like it has never done before Saturday night behind sophomore quarterback Dave Taylor and Lamar Tech was the unfortunate victim of a 53-16 Reb uprising.

Although the game didn't affect the Southland Conference race, it did salvage a 5-5 season for UTA and provided the Rebs with their first home victory of the season against four losses. Lamar finished 3-7.

In fact, it was a night of firsts for the Rebs as the 53-point output set a school record - the old mark being 46 points - and senior fullback Danny Griffin closing his career with four touchdowns (another school record) and Skip Butler missing his first extra point after 22 straight.

* * *

BUTLER, HOWEVER, who is to play later in the Senior Bowl, ran his career point total to 216 after kicking two field goals and five extra points. He finished his collegiate career with 44 field goals and kicked his longest of the year - a 43-yarder in the third quarter.

The Rebs, with Taylor passing for three TDs to Griffin and Griffin running for another in the first half, breezed to a 30-0 halftime lead. The Cards had a gasp of life early the third period when they cut the lead to 30-14 but Taylor, Griffin and Co. weren't about to be stopped.

And the Reb defense, led by the outstanding play of Jimmy Stoehr, quickly took the life out of the Card rally. Stoehr, incidentally, who was voted the outstanding defenseman, was injured on the final play of the game and had to be helped off the field.

Taylor's running and passing antics netted him 65 yards rushing - tops for either team - and 120 yards passing on nine completions in 17 tries.

Griffin started his record TD total by notching the Rebs first six points on their initial series.

Taking the opening kickoff at Lamar's 25, Taylor moved his team on the ground with Griffin and Christy getting most of the calls.

Taylor didn't go to the air until he had to. And he had to on a third and nine at the Cards' 25. He connected with Dick Hill at the 13 and from there the Rebs moved to the one where Griffin got the final honors. Butler kicked for a 7-0 lead on a drive that ate up half the first quarter.

* * *

RONNIE LUCAS' 34-yard punt return to the Cards' 38 helped set up a Butler 28-yard field goal. Again Taylor came through with a big pass - this time to Griffin for 25 yards to Lamar's 12.

Butler's kick gave the Rebs a 10-0 first quarter lead but Taylor was just getting warmed up. In the second period he passed to Butler [should read Griffin] for three TDs, setting the school mark on the last one with 50 seconds before the half.

His record breaker for 17 yards came just 14 seconds after he had connected with Griffin for a five-yard TD. Lynn Malone made this possible by recovering a Card fumble at the 17.Taylor threw to Griffin on first down.

Following Griffin's five-yard TD catch, Butler broke his PAT kicking streak at 22.

* * *

THE SECOND period's first TD, which upped UTA's lead to 17-0, was from three yards out when Taylor rolled left and fired to Griffin all alone in the end zone Taylor had helped set this up with runs of 19 and eight yards.

Lamar put a slight scare into the Rebs by notching its back-to-back touchdowns in the third quarter.

Quarterback Tommy Tomlin passed seven yards to Bill Chester for the first one to cap a 69-yard march after the opening period's kickoff.

After holding UTA, Tomlin drove the Cards back again, and after a pass interference placed them at the Reb one, Tomlin capped the 78-yard march from there. Ronnie Baird added his second PAT kick.

* * *

BUT LAMAR couldn't stop the determined Reb offense. Butler nailed his longest field goal of the year from 43 yards with 3:44 left in the third period to up the count to 33-14.

Then Faulkner came in and on his second pass had the Rebs on the board again. He tossed to Lucas across the middle and he outraced Jerry Harvey and Rip Sutton for a 49-yard TD. Early in the fourth period, after Carl Copeland had given the Rebs the ball via an interception, Faulkner got his second TD pass on a four-yarder to Mike Buchanan-another Reb making his last appearance.

Earnest Gibbs' second interception of the night at the Card eight set up the final TD. Freshman quarterback Tony Wilson added the points on a two-yard keeper and Butler, who had kicked the three previous PAT's, missed. Lamar's final points came when Sam Pierce blocked and recovered Robert Hill's punt in the end zone.

UT-Arlington.......10  20  10  13-53
Lamar Tech...........0   0   14   2-16
UTA-Griffin 1 run (Butler kick)
UTA-FG Butler 28
UTA-D. Griffin 3 pass from Taylor (Butler kick)
UTA-D. Griffin 5 pass from Taylor (Kick failed)
UTA-D. Griffin 17 pass from Taylor (Butler kick)
LT-Chester 7 pass from Tomlin (Baird kick)
LT-Tomlin 1 run (Baird kick)
UTA-FG Butler 43
UTA-Lucas 46 pass from Faulkner (Butler kick)
UTA-Buchanan 4 pass from Faulkner (Butler kick)
UTA-Wilson 2 run (kick failed)
LT-Pierce blocked Robert Hill punt for safety.


TECH                                     UTA LAMAR
26                     First Downs                     21
225             Yards Gained Rushing            97
196             Yards Gained Passing           164
15 of 31        Passes Completed      14 of 34
5                 Passes Intercepted By             0
0                      Fumbles Lost                     1
5 for 33         Punts, No., Avg.         5 for 42

148               Yards Penalized                   40

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