August 25, 2007

#8: 1964 Liberty Bowl - Utah vs. West Virginia

HOW IS IT GREAT? By 1964, Utah fans had been waiting a long time to make some noise on the national scene. The 1957 team nearly reached greatness, but couldn't keep it up into subsequent seasons. Utah hadn't played in a major bowl game since the 1938 season, even though they regularly competed for conference titles and even won their fair share of them.

Then in 1964, Utah suddenly found themselves with a #14 ranking and a share of the WAC title. The team featured All-American Roy Jefferson, who played defensive back, wide receiver, and kicker. It also included Ron Coleman (6.0 yards per rush avg. in '64, 154 rushing yards against WV), C.D. Lowery (whose six interceptions in 1964 remain a Utah school record), Allen Jacobs (Utah's leading rusher), future NFL and Utah assistant John Pease, and Mel Carpenter. The quarterback position was split between Richard Groth and future Boise State HC "Pokey" Allen.

That year, the Liberty Bowl was just one of eight major bowl games, and Utah was fortunate to get the invite instead of Villanova. Because of the cold weather conditions, bowl organizers decided to move the game from Municipal Stadium in Philadelphia to the Atlantic City Convention Center, making it the first-ever indoor college football game. ABC agreed to broadcast the game nationally, and brought their main play-by-play crew along.

The Utes (8-2) faced West Virginia, champions of the Southern Conference and favorites to win the Liberty Bowl. WV's 7-3 regular season record included a 28-27 upset over #9 Syracuse in the last game of the season. The Mountaineers were led by QB Allen McCune, who had a passer rating of 138.40 in 1964. West Virginia also featured RB Richard Leftridge who was the #3 overall pick in the 1966 NFL Draft (though he only played four games for the Pittsburgh Steelers). Leftridge led the team in rushing that year, averaging 4.3 yards per carry.

But what makes the 1964 Utah team, and this particular game, great is the way the Utes performed under the national spotlight. They completely dominated West Virginia from the start with their speed and fundamentals, and didn't let up until the final whistle. In the end, Utah had racked up 466 yards in total offense en route to a 32-6 win.

Recap with Pictures

Antonik, John. "Unique Game." (June 22, 2005).

• Members of the 1964 team were honored during halftime of the 2004 Air Force game:

• Sports Illustrated Preview (Bowl Exposure Is Growing Longer, 21 Dec. 1964):
Dec. 19 - Atlantic City - 12:30 P.M. (E.S.T.) NBC
West Virginia, which came on with a rush to win its last four games, unfortunately yields too many points -- 179 in ten games. And lacking good runners, the Mountaineers depend heavily upon Allen McCune's passing. This will hurt against Utah, which is exceptionally good on pass defense. And the Utes like to run which will hurt the weak West Virginia defense, too. UTAH
• "I remember their guys looked like playboys, dressed up in their fancy clothes . . . They got there first and were making fun of us as we walked by."
-- Utah fullback Allen Jacobs,
on initial meeting with West Virginia players.


By John Mooney
Salt Lake Tribune
December 20, 1964

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- For the first time in television history, the Indians won the battle here Saturday afternoon.

Sixth Game

The Utah Indians, playing in the sixth annual Liberty Bowl classic, which offered studio TV of football for the first time in intercollegiate history, completely bushwhacked the Mountaineers of West Virginia, 32-6.

So complete was the triumph of the Utes from the University of Utah that even had the U.S. Cavalry appeared in the last scene, as usual in the TV script, the history of this game couldn't have been changed.

Small Crowd

Only 6,050 fans sat in the 60-degree temperature of the huge indoor hall where the Democrats launched their devastating attack last summer en route to a sweep in the political field.

But millions more saw the game on coast-to-coast TV. And they may have realized LBJ would have faced tough competition had he brought his bandwagon around a few months later.

Redskins Lead

The Utes led all the way, 3-0 at the quarter, 19-0 at the half, 25-0 at the third period and held that lead until West Virginia scored later in the third period.

Atlantic City and the weather-plagued Liberty Bowl found a way to overcome the climate problems of the Eastern Seaboard, but not the weather of the Intermountain country.

So it was the reverberating thunder of the charging Allen Jacobs.

Or the lightning-like gyrations of Ron Coleman and Andy Ireland.

Passing Game

And, for a variety, since mountain weather is changeable, the Utes unlimbered the passing artistry of Pokey Allen or Richard Groth.

And behind all this pyrotechnical display was the craglike Utah defense that smothered the Mountaineers until it was too late.

West Virginia came boasting of its "mountain dew," but Utah cured them, although it left a hang-over, with the Western version of "mountain don't."

Foiled Rivals

The Utes just didn't let the Mountaineers play their game, and you know you can't beat the other fellow at his game.

Utah got the jump and didn't let the Mountaineers gain any momentum until it was way, way too late.

Utah scored on 32 and 35-yard field goals by Roy Jefferson, an 11-yard run by Allen, a 53-yard run by Coleman and a 47-yard sprint by Ireland, a 33-yard pass from Groth to Bill Morley.

Lone Score

West Virginia's lone score came on a six-yard pass from Allen McCune to Milt Clegg in the fourth quarter.

The Utes and Mountaineers, who each share in 75 per cent of the total receipts, will receive approximately $60,000 each from the live and TV crowds.

A brilliant defensive rush by Tom Hawkes and the following short West Virginia punt gave the Utes their first scoring break.

Field Goal

But Utah, after two illegal motion and one delay of game penalty, finally kicked the field goal with Jefferson doing the honors.

That 3-0 lead stood at the end of the first quarter, as W. Virginia was able to get to Utah's 45-yard line only twice on offense.

Utah lost the ball on the one-yard line to stop a drive in the first minute of the second period, but Allen engineered a drive to score a touchdown a few minutes later.

Draws Penalty

After some extra-curricular scrapping in the mid-field area, West Virginia drew a pass interference penalty. Coleman bobbed for 12 and Allen ran the last 11 yards on the keeper.

Jefferson kicked Utah into a 10-0 lead and the game was over.

Second Period

But Jefferson added a 35-yard field goal midway in the second period and Coleman, aping the playing that developed so fast BYU forgot him on its all-opponent team, cracked into the line, wiggled and squirmed until he saw running room, and then galloped 53 yards for the score.

Utah missed the two-point try and the score was 19-0 at the half.

Utah's defense shared the TV spotlight in the third quarter when the Mountaineers lost the ball on downs after getting a first down on the Utah eight.

Ireland Rolls

The Utes came back with the offense demanding equal TV time to get a score, with Ireland blasting 47 yards for the score to cap a 98-yard drive.

The two-point try again failed by Utah sat fat on a 25-0 lead and even West Virginia was willing to concede.

A roughness penalty set up West Virginia's score, with Allen McCune finally hitting Clegg for the score from six yards out.

Three Periods

West Virginia also displayed a weakness on the try for the two-point pass and that was it, 25-6 after three quarters.

Hawkes intercepted a McCune pass to launch the final drive for the score with Groth passing to Morley, who made a classic grab and scampered home free.

West Virginia gained only 105 net yards from scrimmage, and Coleman contributed 154 yards for the Utes in winning the award as the outstanding back on the field.

Utah Gains

Jacobs netted 57 and Ireland 74 for the big Utah gains. The Redskins had a whopping 323 net yards from rushing.

McCune finally wound up with 123 passing yards (13 of 28) but he had only two for nine in the first half when the game was up for grabs.

Allen had five for 11 completed and 72 yards and Groth hit six of 12 for 71 yards.

Utah's excellent secondary also came up with four interceptions to offset the three Utah fumbles lost.

1 comment:

Ted Snoddy said...

On Sept 6, 2014 The University of Utah 1964 Team will be inducted into the School's Hall of Fame. Well done boys!! Nice 50th Anniversity!!