- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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Washington was feeling at home in the Dome after a 29-12 whipping of Houston for the Huskies' first victory in three starts. Freshman tailback Vince Weathersby gained 99 yards, and Jeff Jaeger kicked a school-record five field goals. The Huskies strode over to the stands after the game to shake the hands of 500 supporters who had made the trip from Seattle. The Northwesterners had actually tried to muster up a wave when the win was clinched. Houston's followers apparently would also like, a wave—as in bye-bye to indoor football. Attendance has slipped steadily for the past seven years at the Dome, which costs Houston about. $100,000 more per game than Robertson Stadium on campus would. "The fans at Houston put you under a fine glass before they embrace you," says Elvin Hayes, an assistant to the athletic director. Under the acrylic a crowd of only 20,522 showed for the Cougars' home opener. The Dome holds 55,155 for football.
Villanova extended its undefeated streak to five years with a 27-7 win over Iona before a full house (13,400) at Villanova Stadium. After 87 years the Wildcats dropped football for financial reasons in the spring of '81. But enraged alumni, who trotted out Bob Hope for one fund-raiser, pledged to put up $100,000 and to buy 3,000 season tickets annually to have the sport resurrected. (In 1988, the school will join the I-AA Yankee Conference.) "The concept of not having a football team was foreign to everyone—everyone—we talked to," says Charlie Johnson, '62, a Villanova All-America lineman and current point man on the Wildcat Club. "Football opens communication. One of our alums wakes up in Utah and reads that we beat Iona and he feels a part of his school." Villanova linebacker Kevin Kelley, one of just four non-freshman starters, had five sacks against the Gaels, who were 59-0 losers to Division III Hofstra in their opener.
Temple, which Villanova defeated in its season finale in 1980, has suffered 28-25, 27-25 and 26-24 defeats so far this year against Top 20 teams. The Owls' latest lamentable loss—the 26-24 one—came at home against BYU, despite the thick-skinned play of standout guard John (Rhino) Rienstra. Rhino, who played both ways in the second half, got Temple's only sack of Cougar quarterback Robbie Bosco. "I know there's a lot of holding going on out there," said the 280-pound Rienstra, a record-setting powerlifter. "My shirt never comes out of my pants, but when I came out on defense it was hanging out." BYU overcame a 17-13 fourth-quarter deficit on two of Bosco's four touchdown tosses. He wound up completing 24 of 36 passes for 321 yards.
Penn State's 17-10 squeaker over East Carolina seemed never-ending. There were seven penalties on the last 12 plays, and it took 15 minutes to play the last 58 seconds. Three interference calls against the Nittany Lions helped the Pirates drive to the Penn State 34 as time expired. Said Lion safety Ray Isom, who fretted over the flag dropped on the final play, "If they called that last one on me, I was going to ask them to let me officiate."
Quarterbacks from Maryland and Boston College, inconsistent in earlier starts, righted their arms in wins over West Virginia and Pittsburgh, respectively. Stan Gelbaugh, who had completed just 39.6% of his passes for a total of 241 yards in two games, converted 15 of 23 throws for 263 yards in the Terps' 28-0 defeat of the Mountaineers. Shawn Halloran had struggled in BC's two losses, and the bench beckoned. But in a 29-22 upset of Pitt, Halloran connected on 25 of 33 throws for 400 yards. The Eagles' Kelvin Martin had seven catches for 173 yards, including a dazzling 51-yarder with 81 seconds to go for the game-winning touchdown.
"Defense is like a dog," said Florida State coach Bobby Bowden. "It will mind you. Offense is fickle—like a cat. It won't listen to you. An ol' cat that you tell to go out the door will just sit there, scratching at you." A 19-10 victory over tough Memphis State underlined Bowden's pet theory. The Seminoles' offense was most unmindful, particularly after quarterback Danny McManus was knocked unconscious for the second straight game. But their defensive line, combat trained by a black-belt karate instructor, dutifully treed Tiger quarterback Danny Sparkman. He completed just 8 of 21 passes for 70 yards after having connected on his first five throws for 68 yards on an opening TD drive. FSU's kicking game tended toward the canine as Derek Schmidt booted field goals of 51, 51, 46 and 24 yards and Louis Berry averaged 45 yards a punt.
Colorado State running back Steve Bartalo was looking forward to the game at LSU. A walk-on three years ago, the 5'9" junior has led the WAC in rushing each of the past two years. "I love to play the nationally ranked teams," he says. "It gives you a chance to showcase your ability." But with the Rams trailing 17-3 early in the fourth quarter, Bartalo was stopped short of the goal line on a fourth-and-one. Replays showed he had probably gotten in, but so much for showcasing on the road. The LSU defense held Bartalo to 68 yards on 26 carries, while the Tigers' Dalton Hilliard gained 151 on 25 attempts in the 17-3 win.