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WHAT A WAY TO WIND IT UP
Douglas S. Looney
December 05, 1977
In rousing regular-season finales, Texas came away the big winner, but Oklahoma, Penn State and USC did themselves proud
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December 05, 1977

What A Way To Wind It Up

In rousing regular-season finales, Texas came away the big winner, but Oklahoma, Penn State and USC did themselves proud

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Later in the evening Campbell goes to a team meeting where Akers dips into his bag of psychological tricks as he exhorts his squad. After carrying on about what a good team A&M is, how emotional the game will be, how hard-hitting, how important, Akers concludes. "But, gentlemen, it does not have to be close." Prophetic, that.

In the locker room at Kyle Field before the game the next day, Longhorn defensive star Brad Shearer reminds his teammates, "Never a lazy step." And Akers, noting the Aggies' pregame, precision marching show, says, "They've already done what they do best—march, hut and holler. Now we're going out and do what we do best." He encourages players individually. An example: "Ricky Churchman, just go out there and be your normal, terrible, nasty, ornery self."

And there's a whispered conversation with Campbell:

"Earl, I really expect 170 yards out of you today."

"I'm ready," says Campbell.

Which proved to be an understatement. Texas ripped up the Aggies 57-28 in a game not nearly that close. Campbell mashed Aggie defenders for 222 yards rushing and three touchdowns, and caught a 60-yard touchdown pass in his best game. The victory gave Texas the Southwest Conference title and the right to play Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl.

The Aggies stirred brief hopes when they took the opening kickoff and, fueled by 20 yards in penalties, got a touchdown on a seven-yard scamper by the fleet Curtis Dickey. That and a dazzling 60-yard kickoff return, also by Dickey, just about summed up A&M's day.

With 4:47 to go in the first quarter, the Horns hooked 'em with their first of eight touchdowns. Quarterback Randy McEachern sending three receivers to the right, running to the right, then arching a long pass down the left sideline to Campbell, who was alone behind the A&M defenders and romped in for the touchdown. The scoring play covered 60 yards. A couple of minutes later Campbell leaped four yards for another touchdown. Then Johnny (Ham) Jones, one of those rare backs who love to block, got a chance to carry and tallied on a five-yard run. McEachern, a third stringer at the start of the year, then connected on two touchdown passes to Split End Alfred Jackson.

At the intermission Campbell yelled. "How bad do we want it?" The roar that went up in the dressing room indicated that the Longhorns wanted it something awful. So Texas look the second-half kickoff on its 20 and proceeded on a five-play, 80-yard scoring drive like this: Campbell for 0, Campbell for 10, Campbell for five, Campbell for 59, Campbell for six. Then, on the first play of the fourth quarter, after A&M had threatened by scoring twice and pulling up to trail by only 40-28, Campbell rambled 23 yards for another touchdown with some more Akers words ringing in his ears: "Show 'em how far they have to go to be Southwest Conference champs." The final Texas points came on McEachern's fourth touchdown pass—which tied a 62-year-old school record for one game—to Johnny (Lam) Jones for 37 yards and a 48-yard field goal by Steve McMichael, filling in for the injured Russell Erxleben.

The Aggie scores included two one-yard plunges by George Woodard, who had a generally miserable day with only 81 yards in 25 tries, and an eight-yard run by Quarterback David Walker, who had conceded before the game, "We do wonder if we're going to stop Campbell, and if so, how." Aggie Linebacker Kevin Monk said there's only one way to bring down Earl. "Grab, hold on and hope for help." One of Campbell's colleagues, Cornerback Glenn Blackwood, marvels, "I've never seen a guy who wants that extra half yard so badly. Every time."

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