Five days into this season's practice, Coach Rex Dockery moved Hadnot to running back, because, "I had no one else who could play there." Hadnot didn't head for the bus station, however. Overcoming his fears that he "wouldn't handle the position well enough to keep it," Hadnot has become the Southwest Conference's leading rusher. During a 27-17 victory at Texas Christian, the hard-running junior scored on a 23-yard run and picked up 166 in 26 carries. That left him with 1,029 yards, just 40 short of Doug McCutchen's team rushing record.
Quite a few teams have padded their statistics at Rice's expense. Last week it was Southern Methodist's turn and Emanuel Tolbert, Mike Ford, Darold Turner and Eddie Garcia went to town as the Mustangs trampled the Owls 58-0. Tolbert scored on a 69-yard pass from Ford, and gained 179 yards on seven receptions, raising his season's totals to 54 catches, 10 for touchdowns. Ford's 18-for-29 passing netted 315 yards. Turner scored on four short runs, Garcia booted three field goals and the defense recovered three fumbles and made four interceptions.
Arkansas thundered to a 27-0 lead at Baylor behind the running of Ben Cowins (110 yards) and the passing of Ron Calcagni (seven for 10 for 116 yards). Baylor stymied itself by losing the ball seven times on fumbles and interceptions. In the last three games, the Bears have turned over the ball 21 times. Two late scoring passes by Steve Smith merely made Baylor more respectable 27-14 losers to the Razorbacks.
Three touchdown runs by George Yates and 194 yards passing by Keith Thibodeaux helped Louisiana Tech to a 24-10 triumph over Arkansas State. That guaranteed the Bulldogs at least a share of the Southland Conference title and a berth in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 16.
1. HOUSTON (8-1)
2. TEXAS (6-2)
3. ARKANSAS (6-2)
An old ploy and a stubborn defense enabled Georgia to win 24-22 at Florida. The Bulldogs' final touchdown came on a similar play that had knocked the Gators out of the Southeastern Conference championship three years ago, a flanker pass, this time a 44-yarder from Anthony Arnold to Lindsay Scott. That put Georgia in front 24-10, and Florida just couldn't make up the deficit. A victory over Auburn this week would assure the Bulldogs at least a first-place tie with Alabama in the Southeastern Conference and a Sugar Bowl spot, because 'Bama spent New Year's Day 1978 in New Orleans.
Alabama kept its Sugar Bowl hopes alive with a 31-10 triumph over Louisiana State, which had an 80-yard scoring run called back because of a clip and a field goal nullified by an illegal-formation penalty. Alabama rallied to score after both those misplays, first on a 29-yard run by Quarterback Steadman Shealy and then on a one-yard plunge by Major Ogilvie. The Tide held Charles Alexander to 46 yards in 14 carries.
In other SEC contests, Kentucky steam-rollered Vanderbilt 53-2, and Auburn downed Mississippi State 6-0 on a pair of field goals by Jorge Portela. Mississippi defeated outsider Tulane 13-3.
Clemson and Maryland labored for wins to set up this week's clash for the Atlantic-Coast title. The Tigers bumped off North Carolina 13-9, Lester Brown carrying on eight of 11 plays during an 80-yard scoring drive. He climaxed the fourth-quarter march by barging over from one yard out. Maryland Quarterback Tim O'Hare, who came into the game at Virginia with minus 81 yards rushing for the season, ran for 102 yards as the Terps won 17-7. O'Hare also passed for 222 yards to set a school record of 324 yards in total offense.