Skip to main content
Original Issue

The title that beckons

As Washington, Missouri, Arkansas and Utah State moved closer to their conference championships, Navy lost its first game of the season. Duke got its goat, too

The conference title is the carrot that dangles in front of every college football team. Last Saturday, Washington, Missouri, Arkansas and Utah State, as well as Minnesota (see page 19), won decisive games. They could almost taste the carrot.

Washington had an easy time, beating a bewildered Southern California team 34-0. Playing in a steady drizzle, Washington forced a Southern California fumble on the opening kickoff and moved to a quick touchdown. The Trojans managed to hold on to the next kickoff but were unable to move. Marlin McKeever dropped back to his own 14-yard line and punted. It was a high, twisting kick that came slithering down out of the rain into the arms of George Fleming, Washington's Rose Bowl hero. Fleming moved to his right, got a good block and tore loose from a would-be tackier at midfield and scored. The Trojans were through for the day, and Washington had probably clinched the AAUW and a second straight trip to the Rose Bowl.

Missouri, like Washington, all but assured its second straight invitation to a bowl—the Orange. But unlike Washington, Missouri had some pale moments before it finally beat Colorado 16-6 to maintain the Big Eight Conference lead. Colorado scored early on a long pass, then threatened to score again when Halfback Ed Coleman intercepted a Missouri pass. Trapping the Missouri guards, Colorado moved to the four-yard line. Then the Missouri defense, second-best in the nation against rushing, held fast, and Colorado was never again as close.

It still took several breaks, the kind that always seem to happen to teams in a winning streak, to bring the game safely under Missouri's command. On first down from the Colorado ten, late in the first half, Halfback Mel West was thrown for a yard loss. But Colorado was penalized five yards for having 12 men on the field. Instead of second down and 11 yards to go, Missouri had first and five. Three plays later it scored to take the lead, 7-6. The rest was easy.

At Little Rock, Arkansas and Rice played 59 minutes and 35 seconds of scoreless football before Arkansas's fourth-string fullback, Mickey Cissell, who had kicked a field goal in the last 16 seconds to beat Texas 24-23, kicked a 26-yard field goal for a 3-0 win. The victory put Coach Frank Broyles's Razorbacks into the Southwest Conference lead. With only SMU and Texas Tech, two undernourished teams, remaining on the schedule, Arkansas should win.

As Arkansas moved downfield for the game winning field goal, it faced one especially critical situation with two minutes left. The ball was on the Arkansas 45-yard line, third down and six to go. If Arkansas failed to make the first down, it would have to give up the ball. It was the right moment to come up with the special play, the play born on the blackboard early in the week.

Sophomore Billy Moore took the ball from center and rolled out. He ran to within two feet of the line of scrimmage, then flipped a pass to another sophomore, End Jim Collier, who was waiting untended in the flat. Collier got the first down, and Arkansas continued to victory.

After the game Moore was asked about the play. "You don't have to say anything about it," he said. "We made the play up in the huddle."

Utah State's win over Wyoming 17-13 ended the latter's two-year reign over the Skyline Conference and almost assures Utah State of its first undisputed title in 23 years.

Wyoming did not bow out meekly. In fact, it caused a year's worth of anxiety in the final minute of play, just after Dolph Camilli, son of the onetime Brooklyn Dodger first baseman, stole the ball away from Wyoming and helped State to a 17-6 lead.

But Wyoming's Dick Behning took the kickoff and ran it 97 yards for a touchdown. Wyoming then tried an on-side kick and recovered it. State's first team, which had triumphantly left the field shortly before, hurried back and managed to hold on until the final gun.

If Navy had its own way, the final gun would have sounded after the first half of its own game with Duke, for Navy was leading 10-0. As it was, Duke came back strong to win 19-10, handing Navy its first loss of the season. Navy belongs to no conference, so the defeat cost them no title, merely prestige, a few notches on the national rankings (they were third in the U.P.I, ranking) and perhaps a trip to a bowl.

Early in the week Navy's brilliant Joe Bellino received a wager of shaved heads from eight Duke students that he would not score three touchdowns against Duke. Bellino wrote the students a note: "I am sorry to say that I will not be able to accept your bet. You see, this week I am going to be used as a decoy and will carry the ball only three times." Then he added a postscript: "I would appreciate it if you keep the enclosed a secret until after the game."

As the game approached, the student play got rougher. Friday night some Duke freshmen stole the Navy goat, sheared a big D on its back and painted it blue. The next day, as 700 midshipmen waited at the stadium tunnel entrance for Navy to appear, the Duke freshmen brought the goat in. When a few midshipmen tried to take him back, there were brief fisticuffs. The mood of the game had been set.

It was rough but clean. "Those Duke men really hit hard," said Bellino afterward. Bellino, of course, was not used as a decoy, but neither did he score, the first time he was shut out this season. In the first half Navy recovered three Duke fumbles that helped them score their 10 points. In the second half Duke recovered three Navy fumbles, which helped them to 19 points and the victory.

Navy's defeat may create a problem for the Lambert Trophy committee. The Lambert Trophy each year goes to the strongest team in the East. At one time this season that team seemed to be Syracuse, but when its winning streak was stopped, Navy became the likely winner. Now Navy has lost. Pittsburgh, which beat Syracuse, has two losses. So does Army, which also beat Syracuse last week. Perhaps the trophy will go to Yale. Yale, it should be noted, is still undefeated. No other team in the East can make that statement.