Saturday, September 12, 2015

This Day in UTA Football History Vol. 3, Game 2: Playing with the Big Boys

Today's installment of This Day in UTA Football History will touch on a point that I have made frequently in this blog, the UT Arlington Athletic Department really bungled the move up from the College Division to the University Division, the highest level of college football at the time. In the mid-to-late 1960's, UTA was a major force in the Southland Conference. They won conference championships in 1966, and 1967, were a point away from another one in 1968 (one of my favorite UTA games) and won the 1967 Pecan Bowl. Prior to 1969, the University was already making plans to move up, primarily in securing a spot at Turnpike Stadium, the primarily baseball facility that would eventually be the home of the just-relocated Texas Rangers.

So with that, I introduce you to the 1970 squad. I'm just going to be blunt here and leave out any suspense, this team was the worst team UTA had ever seen in its history. They would not win a game, would be within one touchdown in only one game and were outscored 266-69 in ten games. Looking back on it decades after it happened, it would appear this season was the omen for playing in Turnpike Stadium and moving the program off campus.

The team was coached by Burley Bearden, a popular guy starting his fifth year as the head man and 25th overall at the school. There was a lot of turnover from the previous year, with virtually every starter new. I'd love to detail who they are, but in the grand scheme of things, there just wasn't much here, aside from sophomore cornerback Earnest Baptist, an eventual three-time all-Southland Conference first team selection.

The reason I chose this game, is that it is a prime example of what I've stated in some of the previous blog entries, UTA is the case study for the worst way to move a program up to the higher level. NCAA rules required a University play half its games against other University-level teams. Since non of the Southland Conference members were, that meant almost every non-conference game needed to be against high-level, tougher competition.

It was a common sight to draw 10,000 to a UTA football game in the '60's. That wouldn't happen again until Maverick Stadium's debut in 1980, and that would be the last time. Moving to Turnpike meant playing in a baseball facility and when the Rangers came to town, it meant playing the home opener in October. But more than anything, UTA played tough competition early in the year, usually on the road. That meant a losing record by the time they came back to Arlington, where fan interest had fallen.

While the Rangers hadn't relocated during the 1970 season, this game is a great example of that thinking. UTA would travel to Fort Worth and play the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs. Now, to be clear, this is not the TCU we know today. From 1966 to 1990, TCU would have only two winning seasons. They were a Southwest Conference school, a premier conference before it was gutted by the SEC and Big 12. Like today, any premier conference team is supposed to beat any SLC school as the competition was tougher, and it certainly was.

On this day in UTA football history, the Rebels travel to Amon G. Carter Stadium for the first meeting between UTA and TCU.

NOTE: After typing this one, I must stress I leave all grammatical, spelling and other errors as the appeared in the paper.

A New Frog Heard From

Davis Leads TCU Over UTA, 31-7

News Staff Writer

FORT WORTH - Bobby Davis, whose name is barely a household word even in his own home, rushed for a school 247 yards Saturday night as TCU squeezed UT Arlington purple, 31-7.

A 200-pound junior running back who played just enough to letter last year, Davis shredded a hapless UTA defense for the third best rushing performance in Southwest Conference history. It was the most yards any SWC runner has picked up since Rice's Dickie Maegle ran for 265 yards in the 1954 Cotton Bowl contest.

The Frogs had incredible success on the ground, totaling 435 rushing yards, also a school record, in a game billed as the Tarrant County showdown which was played before 25,427 fans. Sophomores backs Raymond Rhodes and Larry Harris were also impressive rushing, with the latter piling up 107 yards on 18 carries.

The Frogs' flamethrower quarterback, Steve Judy, figured hitting the airways was unnecessary for this one. He threw but 12 times and completed only three against a tough Rebel pass defense that was just about all UTA could be proud of.

THE REBS FOUGHT poor field position the entire game, particularly in the first half as penalties, puny punts and a porous defensive line left UTA in a 24-7 lurch at halftime.

Davis and Harris broke consistently through the UTA middle and Judy declined to throw against a 13 miler per hour wind, tossing only five times in the half with one completion and an interception in the end zone by Robert Evans.

Davis piled up 141 yards in the first half alone and finished with two touchdowns His longest run of the night was only 45 yards but five runs were good for better than 20 yards apiece and 8 were over 10 yards.

Judy scored first for the Frogs on a 1-yard keeper, capping a 26-yard drive with 5:04 remaining in the first quarter. The opportunity presented itself when UTA's Larry McGee uncorked a 28-yard punt which Raymond Rhodes returned 10 yards to the UTA 26.

A blocked punt by Tookie Barrie on UTA's next series led to another quickie touch for the Frogs. This drive of 24 yards took but 3 plays, the last of which was 13-yard scamper  by Davis around an unprotected right end. Harris tacked up his TD midway through the second quarter when he threaded his way 27 yards on an off-tackle slant and managed to make it all the way untouched.

UTA blew an early second quarter scoring opportunity when Gary Gough stopped Davis on a draw to create a fumble which gave the Rebs possession on TCU's 38. The driver ended on the 2 when Taylor fumbled on a keeper after a 5-yard gain.

THE REBELS scored their only touchdown with just 23 seconds left in the half when quarterback Dave Taylor hit tight end Mike Lowrey on a 69-yard beauty up the middle. TCU defenders went for the ball, missed entirely and Lowrey streamed untouched into the end zone.

TCU's running backs continued to play havoc with the Rebs in the second half and quickness was the difference as Rhodes and Davis repeatedly broke tackles up the middle. Defensively, tackle Larry Dibbles was particularly outstanding for TCU, causing one fumble. Former Dallas prepsters Danny Colbert (2 blocked passes) and James Helwig (one interception) also made a good showing against a UTA offense that collected only 193 yards of total offense.

Davis supplied the Froggies last touchdown on a 38-yard bolt over tackle that gave him the new rushing record. The old school mark of 235 yards was held by All-American halfback Jim Swink, who set it in 1955 against Texas. The win broke an opening-game losing jinx that has plagued TCU since 1963.

THE REBSheld on the first two offensive series of the ball-game, but after that the game was strictly no contest. The closet the Rebs came to scoring in the second half was the TCU 13 where fullback Billy Wray was stopped on a fourth and 2 situation.

The REBS showed too much nervous energy at the game's outset. Collecting 67 yards in penalties in the first quarter alone.

"My kids were inconsistent," said UTA Coach Burley Bearden. "We had so many penalties in the first quarter. But they came back pretty good in the second half and showed something by not tapering off at the end."

Bearden added, "We'd known about Raymond Rhodes, but we'd known about TCU's other fine running backs. I wasn't necessarily surprised that Judy didn't pass any more than he did."

As Bearden admitted, his team was inconsistent. Defensively there were a few fine moments like Lynn Mallone's block of an attempted field goal by Busty Underwood in the third quarter. TCU, on the other hand, was solid in virtually all phases of the game, most noticeably with it's rushing game.

Four hundred and thirty-five yards is a lot of running. Ask UT Arlington.

                                       UTA          TCU
First Downs........................13             14
Rushing yardage..................89           436
Passing yardage................104               3
Return yardage...................73              61
Passes..........................4-17-1      3-12-1
Punts...............................9-37          5-40
Fumbles lost..........................2               1
Penalties..............................77           124

UT-Arlington........ 0  7  0  0  - 7
TCU....................14 10 0  7 - 31
TCU-Judy 1 run (Underwood kick).
TCU-Davis 13 run (Underwood kick).
TCU-Harris 27 run (Underwood kick).
TCU-FG Underwood 36
UTA-Lowery 69 pass from Taylor (Whitemire kick).
TCU-Davis 39 (Underwood kick).

Taken from the Dallas Morning News, 9-13-70.

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