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Pistol Pete Meets Preacher Pilot
Robert Creamer
October 29, 1962
Deep in the heart of Texas' Panhandle, two of the best runners in the U.S. renewed their year-old battle for the national college rushing title
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October 29, 1962

Pistol Pete Meets Preacher Pilot

Deep in the heart of Texas' Panhandle, two of the best runners in the U.S. renewed their year-old battle for the national college rushing title

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Then the sun came out, and a drying wind blew down across the Panhandle. Pete Pedro took his ankle to the doctor for a treatment, worked out and seemed improved. New Mexico State arrived in town and members of the advance guard hinted that Woodson's demotion of Preacher to the defense was psychological warfare and that it wouldn't last past the second play from scrimmage. An edgy Woodson wanted badly to beat Kerbel. A nervous Kerbel worried about an upset. Delighted spectators crowded the advance ticket windows.

They didn't see a great ball game in Canyon's Buffalo Bowl last Saturday night, though they did experience an exciting and satisfactory one, since West Texas won, 20-12. Neither did they witness an epic Pedro-Pilot duel, but they did see enough to appreciate all over again the special qualities that draw people to watch these remarkable athletes.

Pistol Pete was used principally as a decoy. Even so, he twice took hand-offs and sliced through the middle of the line with startling, wiggling fury. All the injured Pistol had this night were samples, but they were impressive ones.

Preacher Pilot carried the ball on New Mexico's first play from scrimmage and he carried it 18 times in all. He averaged eight yards a carry on New Mexico State's first scoring drive and bulled across with the touchdown that tied the score at 6-6. Later, in the third period, he showed his tremendous power when New Mexico State, trailing 20-6, fought desperately and successfully to get back in the game. From the 17-yard line he carried half the West Texas line with him as he forced his way to the 11. He slanted off tackle for six more yards to the five. Then he drove through the line again for five more yards to come within a foot of the goal line. That was his high-water mark. On the play he was hit hard across the back of the neck and ended up semiconscious in the end zone. He got back on his feet and made two unsuccessful charges into the middle of the line and then was taken out of the game, just before a teammate edged the ball over for the last score of the game. Pilot was woozy and his vision was blurred and, though he later asked to go back in the game, Woodson said no. "He couldn't see clearly," Woodson said later. "I didn't think he was right." Pilot's injury—and Woodson's forbearance—quite possibly cost New Mexico State a startling upset, but win or lose, duel or no duel, the Preacher had shown his wares, too.

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