Liberty Bowl

1971

 

Tennessee 14

Arkansas 13

 

Tennessee Fight Song

 

Northwest Arkansas Times

Sports Writer

 

MEMPHIS, Tenn.- "Give me liberty or give me death!"

 

While Patrick Henry received the former, the Arkansas Razorhacks were stuck with the latter here Monday night in the 13th annual Liberty Bowl, where the Tennessee Volunteers took advantage of a little home cookin' to shock the Porkcrs 14-13 in a disputed, hotly-contested clash..

 

Probably1never in Arkansas history had a contest changed color so late, not even the 15-14 Texas battle in 1969.

 

It should have been Cotton in 1971. Instead, the season was a nightmare of upsets, despite the still excellent 8-2-1 record of Frank Broyles' Razorbacks. They all spelled trouble with a capital T- for losses to Tulsa, Texas A&M and Tennessee. The Hogs' tie with Rice sneaked in unnoticed, except in the record books.

 

Somebody at least hit it right on the nose, and that was your friendly neighborhood Vegas bookie, who said Tennessee by one. Actually, it was the Vols by two, according to Arkansas Tom Reed and Bobby Nichols (See dressing room story below).

 

Joe Ferguson racked up two more honors while setting three Liberty Bowl records with 18 of 28 tosses for 200 yards. Of the three, the pass attempts tie the old mark, but the completion and yardage establish new highs for the annual event.

 

For his performance, Ferguson was awarded trophies for being the game's outstanding player and Arkansas' top offensive player. Defensive back Louis Campbell picked off three Jim Maxwell aerials, and as a result was named the game's outstanding defensive player. He also set a new Liberty Bowl record.

 

Despite all the pageantry and patriotism for the ABC cameras, the game finally did start 5 minutes late, but the Volunteers were on time, especially when they had all the field position in the world compared to Arkansas during the opening period.

 

Tennessee won the toss and moved 25 yards before being forced to punt. Bobby Majors, who set a new record with a 43.8 punting average (slightly higher than Drew Toole's 43.6) then booted a beauty that died on the Arkansas one.

 

After making 20 yards on the end around, the Hogs returned the Orange favor as Toole punted 45 yards. Majors brought it back to the 45, and the Vols were in business.

 

Behind the power running of UT offensive star Bill Rudder and fullback Steve Chancey, the Vols pushed the ball down to the Porker 43. On third-and-eight from there, quarterback Maxwell fired a long one intended for wingback George Silvey, but pass interference was called and Tennessee had its first big break of the night with a first down at the Hog 24.

 

On the very ncxt p!ay, Maxwell pitched back to Rudder, who fired a wobbly option pass to split end Emmon Love, who got as far as the two. Rudder took it over for six points

 

George Hunt, later to aid the Orange crush, booted the conversion, and the Vols led 7-0 with 5:39 left in the quarter. UT cornerback David Allen intercepted a Ferguson bullet in the next series, and for quite a while, neither team could manage any offense as the period ended with the same 7-0 score.

 

With 9:52 remaining in the first half, Bill McClard, who was to later tie a record with two field goals, attempted a 40-yarder, but it was unsuccessful. Conrad Graham partially blocked the boot.

 

Finally, following Campbell's punt return to the Razorback 34, the Clean Machine went to work as Ferguson completed four consecutive passes, moving down to the Vol 25. Carries by Mike Saint and Ferguson brought the ball to the 18, and on second-and-eight, Joe hit teammate Jim Hodge on short screen, but Graham smelled it out perfectly and dropped Hodge for a six-yard loss. In anger, the Porker flanker threw the ball in disgust, and it cost Arkansas 15 yards back to the 21.

 

But maybe sometimes, a little temper is in order as the two Shreveport juniors teamed up on the next play- this time on a beautiful, 12-yard TD with Hodge wide open. McClard tacked on the extra point, and the score was deadlocked 7-7. It stayed that way until halftime.

 

The third quarter was absolutely fruitless for either team, setting the stage for the big showdown in the final stanza. Scott Binnion's fumble recovery started a 54-yard scoring drive for the Razorhacks, climaxed by a 19-yard field goal by McClard with 13:14 showing on the clock.

 

McClard came back with another three-pointer following a Campbell steal, and Arkansas led 13-7 with 8:57 left in the game. Leapin' Louis got pickoff number three on a spectacular diving catch on the next series, and with 5:51 to go, McClard slammed through a 48-yard line drive, apparently clinching victory for the Big Red.

 

However, somebody (nobody ever was sure who) spotted a holding violation against Bobby Nichols and the Hogs had to punt. But so did Tennessee on the following series, and the Razorbacks took the ball with about four minutes remaining in the contest. Little did they know that those four minutes would become a nightmare.

 

Saint got six yards in two carries, and then Ferguson lofted a screen to Jon Richardson, who was hit hard by Graham and fumbled, resulting in a broken wrist for the Hog tailback. Just where and under whom the fumble went is a mystery only to be solved by the most instant of instant replays. Some stories had the ball going out of bounds, others said Tom Reed recovered. Tennessee claimed it was sub-tackle Carl Witherspoon, and the scoreboard later agreed, though half the stadium didn't.

 

Arkansas did not like the call, to say the least, and it gave the Vols momentum. This was momentum leading to a 17-yard scoring romp by previously injured fullback Curt Watson. He eluded all red shirts around his own right end, and deadlocked the game at 13-13. Hunt put on the clincher at the 1:56 mark (video).

 

Arkansas tried a last-ditch effort, driving 20 yards before Ferguson's second-down bomb intended for Hodge found its way into the hands of UT defender, Eddie Brown, and the Liberty Howl was over. And so was the 1971 football season for 51,110 fans in Memphis Memorial Stadium

 

George Silvey (far right) carries for Tennessee.

 

Jim Hodge catches TD from Joe Ferguson (above) then celebrates with teammate (below).

 

Tennessee's Curt Watson on winning TD run.

 

Attendance- 51,110

 

Scoring Summary

 

First Quarter

UT- Rudder 2 run (Hunt kick)

 

Second Quarter

UA- Hodge 36 yard pass from Ferguson (McClard kick)

 

Fourth Quarter

UA- FG McClard 19

UA- FG McClard 30

UT- Watson 17 run (Hunt kick)

 

Individual Statistics

Rushing

UA- Saint 17-71, Richardson 13-38, Hodge 1-12, Morton 11-48

UT- Chancey 12-34, Rudder 5-18, Silvey 2-3, Watson 11-39

Passing

UA- Ferguson 18-28-200

UT- Maxwell 10-20-120, Rudder 1-1-22

Receiving-

UA- Hodge 6-75, Ettinger 5-53, Richardson 6-48, Nichols 1-24

UT- Rudder 2-10, Love 3-37, Thompson 2-16, Theiler 3-53, Silvey 1-26

 

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