As the Arlington State Rebels moved to the later stages of October, they had not played their first Southland Conference team. But, seeing as how the SLC only had four other competitors to fill a 10-game schedule, that wasn't surprising, but rather the norm.
The Trinity Tigers were the first opponent on UTA's schedule. Trinity is an interesting note in the SLC's history. They were the first University to leave the union. Most schools in the SLC had designs of becoming higher in the NCAA food chain. Trinity, however, did not. As the SLC schools made a push to go to the University Division, later Division I, Trinity would actually drop to Division III, or non-scholarship.
The irony is Trinity, at least in football, was a competitive program (their basketball won a title, baseball had four championships and tennis won all of them but one). They only had one losing conference record in the eight seasons they competed for the championship. Their final season in the SLC ended in a co-championship.
The Rebels entered their game with a 2-3 record. On the surface, that would seem as if they were struggling. A deeper look at the results told a different story. Arlington State was eyeing a move to the highest level of football almost from the beginning. Back then, the only way to get to the highest level was to schedule. 50 percent of a school's opponents had to be against University Division opponents to achieve University Division status. All three losses were to University Division schools.
We last saw the 1966 team defeat East Texas State for their first win of the year. Prior to that, they were 0-2 with a 38-6 loss to West Texas State and a 23-10 setback to New Mexico State. Following the East Texas State win, ASC shut out McNeese State 20-0 to move to .500 on the year. Texas Western (now UTEP) then shellacked the Rebs, 68-21.
At 2-3, Arlington State College hosted the Trinity Tigers in 1966 on this day in UTA football history.
Rebels Bump Trinity, 20-7, To Gain Share of SLC Lead
By ROGER SUMMERS
ARLINGTON - The heroes were many for Arlington State here Saturday night as the Rebels knocked over Trinity, 20-7, before a crowd of 7,000.
Heading the list were Raymond Mathews, whose 66-yard punt return set up a touchdown; Skipper Butler, who kicked a couple of field goals and a pair of field goals and a pair of extra points; Jim Sheridan, Ronnie Tufts, Monty Tolleson and Mike Baylor, who stepped into the shoes of departed quarterback Carl Williams.
And a lot of the credit should go to an unyielding Red defense, which delighted the Memorial Stadium fans by dumping Trinity quarterback Donnie Witwiski a dozen or so times as he clutched the ball looking in vain for an uncovered receiver.
The Rebs had their backs to the wall coming into this one - quarterback Williams quit the squad this week; last Saturday night Texas Western gave ASC a Sun Bowl burn, 68-21 - but the Confederates claimed a second-quarter lead, then went on to stop Trinity.
The win pushed the Rebs ebbing spirits in an upward direction and put them in a tie for first place in the Southland Conference.
At the top of the league ladder with coach Burley Bearden's squad are Lamar Tech and Arkansas State. All have 1-0 conference marks.
It was Butler who gave ASC a three-point margin with five minutes left in the second period when he hit on a 22-yard field goal.
A couple of minutes later, Tufts swiped a Trinity pass and six plays later Butler trotted onto the field again, this time to pump through a 28-yard field goal - Butler's fifth of the year - to give ASC a 6-0 halftime lead.
A punt by Trinity's Lewis Thompson sent Mathews on his third-period, crowd-pleasing jaunt. Mathews, halfback, took the ball on the ASC 33, zoomed towards the left side of the field, picked up some blocks, raced goalward to about the 30, where a slight hesitation caused a Trinity defender to fall on his face, then took another 29 steps before the Trinity punter shoved him down at the one.
Halfback Keith Luft went through the middle on the following play for the touchdown. Butler converted and it was ASC 13-0.
An 18-yard punt return by halfback Mike Barnes put the Rebs into contention again deep into the third period. Barnes took the kick at the Trinity 41 and fought his way back to the visitors' 23.
After five plays - including a 16-yard pass from Baylor to end Ronnie Young - Baylor threw a seven-yarder to wingback Jimmy Thomas for the touchdown. Again, Butler kicked the goal, making it 20-0. The score came early in the fourth stanza.
Trinity's line tally came later in the contest when Witwiski passed a two-yard pass to fullback Earl Eason, climaxing a drive that started on Trinity's 6.
Mathew's was the Reb's leading ground gainer, with 51 yards on 13 tries. Mathews was named the game's outstanding offensive player. Danny Griffin was close behind with 47 on 10 tries. On the passing front, Baylor connected on 7 of 23 for 58 yards.
Witwiski, though he was thrown to the turf repeatedly by the Rebs, completed 9 of 18 aerials for 112 yards.
Tackle Marvin Upshaw of Trinity, picked by the press box as the contestant's best defensive player, was in on 14 tackles for the night. He got big help from linebackers Tommy Chenault and Billy Woodlee.
As usual, Reb tackle Ken Ozee, though playing with an injured arm, cracked Trinity ball carriers more than any other Reb - 12 times. End David Miller had 11 tackles for the Rebs.
GAME AT A GLANCE
106................Yards Gained Rushing.................31
58..................Yards Gained Passing...............112
7 of 23.............Passes Completed.............9 of 19
3....................Passes Intercepted by...................2
3.................Opp. Fumbles Recovered................1
5 for 43.4...........Punts, No., Avg..........8 for 34.4
4 for 30..............Yards Penalized..............5 for 41
Arlington........0 6 7 7 - 20
Trinity.............0 0 0 7 - 7
ASC-FG Butler 22.
ASC-FG Butler 28.
ASC-Luft 1 run (Butler kick).
ASC-Thomas 7 pass from Baylor (Butler kick).
Trinity-Easton 7 pass from Witwiski (Upshaw kick).