Saturday, October 17, 2015

UTA Football Vol. 3 Game 7: Losing

For today's installment of This Day in UTA Football History, we revisit the 1970 season, thankfully for the last time. 1970 is, without a doubt, the worst year on record and easily the worst team UTA fielded as a University. The 1974 squad won one game, but their schedule was tougher.

The 1970 offense would set records for least points scored in both total season (69) and per game average (6.9). They were futile to say the least. They actually could move the ball okay, but turnovers and penalties kept them off the scoreboard and on the sidelines. The defense wasn't much better, sitting in fifth for most points allowed per game (26.6). Still, if UTA had the offensive output they had seen the previous four years, they may have been a .500 team.

There would only be one first team All-Southland Conference selection, cornerback Earnest Baptist. The sophomore was one of the best at that position in UTA's history, going on to win two more and would join only five other Mavericks on the three-time first team list. There'd be a future multi-season NFLer in tackle Don Morrison. The senior would earn an honorable mention in the conference, as the SLC didn't have a second team this year. Morrison was drafted in the fourth round (third highest at that time in Maverick history) by the New Orleans Saints following this season and would play until 1979. Defensive end Sid Bailey would get drafted several rounds later, but didn't earn any conference selection and wouldn't have a long NFL career.

Despite 1970 being the last year in the College Division, today's equivalent of Division II, the season would be known for one thing, losing. 0-10, the first of nine consecutive losing seasons, though four of those nine would be 5-6 years. This is the defining year for UTA, one that would set the tone of the program and transition from a proud, winning program to one that struggled to win and ultimately suppress fan support and kill the program.

Today's opponent was the University of Southwestern Louisiana. UTA played then-USL, now Louisiana-Lafayette 15 times in its 27-year University history, good for 7th most played on the 47 team list. The Cajuns would join the conference in 1971 and would stay there until the Southland dropped to Division 1-AA for the 1982 season.

The Cajuns decided to stay in Division 1-A and left the conference over the difference. At the time, the SLC scoffed at USL's decision, saying that 1-AA was the way for the SLC to stay competitive in the changing collegiate landscape. The height of the Southland Conference was in the mid 1970's to early 1980's and due to many unforeseen events, I-AA would not be the panacea is was envisioned to be. In many ways, the Sun Belt Conference today is what the SLC likely would have been had they not dropped and once again, the Mavericks and Ragin' Cajuns are conference mates again.

On this day in UTA football history, the UT Arlington Rebels host the University of Southwestern Louisiana at Turnpike Stadium.

Cajuns Rip UTA, 28-7

News Staff Writer

ARLINGTON - A young concessionaire pushed his game programs prior to Saturday night's UT-Arlington matchup with Southwest Louisiana at Turnpike Stadium, declaring that you couldn't tell the fumbles without a scorecard.

The young Rebel was right in one respect as the host team not only booted away its 10th fumble loss of the season, but more disheartening to UTA supporters, the team suffered a 28-7 setback to the Ragin' Cajuns. The tasteless outing was No. 5 in a row for the Rebels who kept alive the Cajuns string of five straight wins with a somewhat listless showing.

Coach Burley Bearden's crew supposedly spent the last two weeks regrouping but left their offensive game plan on that practice field as UTA stumbled at the visitor's 7, 10, 15, 22, 28 and 30 yard lines. First half field goal boots of 48 and 45 yards were considerably short and pass thefts boxed the Rebels attack in the uneventful second half.

After building up a 14-0 half-time margin Southwest Louisiana iced the affair with a 68-yard, seven play drive in the third period. Quarterback Robble Juul scrambled for his life on fourth down and then spotted Roland Henry in the back of the lonesome end zone for a 15-yard strike  Roy Pendergraft contributed his third PAT and the 25 Cajun fans present took a coffee break.

Previously Cajun fullback Dickey Haik went 12-yards for the game's initial score with 9:33 left in the half. A short 45-yard field goal kick by Calvin Whitmire was short and the UTA foe went 80-yards in 10 plays. This time Juul hit Henry from nine yards out on third down and UTA trailed 14-0 with 2:15 left in the first half.

Linebacker Harold Tridico halted a third quarter Rebel drive at the Cajun nine with a unwanted reception of a David Taylor pass, before teammate Bob St. Amant made a diving catch to another Taylor toss at the USL one to start the final period.

The locals then put it altogether the for their only score of the night when Sid Bailey pounced on a Cajun fumble at the UTA 15. The Rebels moved in for the six-points in five plays as Taylor powered his way across the double strip from the one. The Reb field general came up with a big third-and-10 call when Art Tillotson pulled in a pass at the one for first and goal. Whitmire made good on the conversion chance and UTA trailed 21-7 with 7:57 left.

The Cajuns struck again with and eight play, 85-yard drive, that was capped by Juul's one yard quarterback keep.

The Rebels moved from their 23 to the visitor's 10 in the final minutes as Taylor found Kent Hibbetts and Joe Bellar for key pass connections. After gaining a first down at the 13 Taylor went back to third down and hit the wrong colored jersey again. This time Jay Chauvin came out of the end zone with the pigskin and UTA fans made for the exits.

                                            UTA                     USL
First downs.............................21                        20
Rushing yardage....................101                      252
Passing yardage.....................208                      119
Passes............................45-16-6                 14-9-0
Punts.................................3-44.3                 3-35.6
Fumbles lost..............................1                          2
Penalties..............................4-93                      5-41

Taken from the Dallas Morning News, 10-18-70.

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