UTA, or Arlington State College as they were known as both a junior college and later a university, had accomplished about as much as could be done from a juco perspective. They were national champions in 1956 and 1957, had seven straight winning seasons, were four-time conference champs in that stretch with eight overall since 1934 and had a 203-134-23 since they started play in 1919. Their enrollment was growing and they were located in a strategic place within the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
There are some who credit the football team's success as the impetus for moving up from the two-year ranks. I can find nothing that backs that up, other than the anecdotal timing of the football team's success and the move to University status. I'd like to think the move was precipitated by other factors like academic desire, student demand, visionary leadership, etc., but I haven't found anything to say one way or another.
The team was coached by the legendary Claude "Cheena" Gilstrap, a man with so many accomplishments on his ledger. He sported a 51-9-2 record during his time at ASC in six seasons, prior to moving up. It didn't hurt that his predecessor went 8-1-1 the season ahead of him, but to perform at a level where the roster is just about guaranteed to turnover every two years, speaks volumes about what he was able to accomplish on the field as well as behind the scenes. It doesn't hurt that DFW is a cradle of football talent, but that is about as consistent as it can get.
He was a popular man, and by all accounts a quality human being. As I stated one post down, he was instrumental in the formation of the Southland Conference. He coached until 1965, never winning a University conference championship, but setting up his predecessor, Burly Bearden, to do so in his first two years. He stayed as Athletic Director until 1975 and if anything, I do place some of the blame for the program's demise at his feet, though that has been discussed before. Even still, the bad decisions were made with the best of intentions.
The following game story actually does a fairly good job in telling you the main players of the 1959 team (even if the spelling is bad). Due to the fact that the season was only seven games long, it is such a hard way to try and judge the value of a team. For example, the 1959 defense statistically looks like the best in UTA history. They hold records for least: points allowed, total offense, yards passing, pass attempts allowed, completions allowed, first downs allowed and rushing plays. Does that mean they were great? No, just means they played fewer games. Ironically, given the sorry state of some of the early 1970 teams, the 1959 team only holds two records for least offense: rushing plays and first downs. But, the point still stands, seven games is not enough to judge a team or its players when other seasons have ten to11.
I will say this, Mr. UTA, Charlie Key, a player and longtime assistant coach, played on this team, and was basically on every team in some fashion until its end in 1985. He led the team in rushing in 1960, scoring in 1960 and '61 and punting in 1960 and '62. He was a versatile player on some pretty decent teams.
So without further ado,on this day in UTA football history, The Arlington State College Rebels play their first game as a University in Arlington against Southeastern Oklahoma State.
ASC Grabs Debut, 28-0By SAM BLAIR
News Staff Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas - Arlington State celebrated a gala first night in senior college football Saturday night by getting o top of Southeastern Oklahoma State first and staying there all evening for a 28-0.
The rebels bombed the visitors with a steady land-and-air barrage and used an alert, smashing defense to control the battle all the way before a capacity crowd of 5,500. By the time it was over, the visitors must have wondered why they bothered to cross the Red River.
Freddie Arnold led a parade of quick-hitting runners while Amos North and Don Tipton triggered an effective passing attack as the Rebs rolled for a total offense of 381 yards to the Oklahomans' 117. They were mighty selfish hosts, too, launching 91 plays to 48.
Some familiar figures from the Rebels' junior college days put a lot of salt in the defense. Ends Tom Beasley and Wayne Crowley, Guard Stuart Helvey and Center Richard Krystinik led a gritty line which left Southeastern backs feeling like a beat generation.
The Savages lost four fumbles in the Arlington assault and first two set the Rebels up for their first touchdown and a field goal. Another killed a fourth quarter threat at the ASC 18, one of two times they could crash the enemy 20.
Beasley grabbed Jim Burkett's fumble at the Southeastern 39 to start the first quarter TD march. Maurice Peterson starred in the 5-play drive, teaming with Tipton on a 14-yard pass play and sweeping right end behind crisp blocking to score from the 8.
Krystinik jumped on the next fumble at the 50 on the second qutrter's first play. The Rebels rolled to the 8 before stalling. On fourth down, Charlie Key lined a 25-yard field goal over the crossbar from a left angle and ASC led, 9-0.
A weird, twisting kick by Ray Hall travelled only 11 yards midway of the quarter and the Rebels had the ball at the Savage 29. Arnold twisted around right end for 11, North pitched to Larry Williamson on the 6, then Arnold finished it by bouncing around right end and cutting across the flag.
North engineered the best sustained drive of the game after the second half kickoff. The Rebs went 69 yards in 12 plays, the 32 covered by three North passes. The 29-year-old sophomore tossed a quickie to John Niederauer for the final nine.
Savage quarterback John Kinyowes hit hard in the fourth quarter and his wild pitch-out was recovered by Reb Tackle Richard John at the Southeastern 17. Arnold, who led rushers with 73 yards on 12 carries, slashed over the right side twice and he had the touchdown.
GAME AT A GLANCE
ASC SE Okla
First downs..........................20 6
Rushing yardage.................226 40
Passing yardage..................155 77
Passes intercepted by.............0 0
Fumbles lost..........................3 4
Southeast Oklahoma................0 0 0 0-0
Arlington State.........................6 10 6 6-28
Arlington State-Peterson 8 run (Key kick blocked).
Arlington State-Key 24 field goal.
Arlington State-Arnold 6 run (Key kick).
Arlington State-Niederauer 6 pas from North (Key kick wide).
Arlington State-Arnold 3 run run (Sutherland kick wide).