Sun Bowl

1961

 

Villanova 17

Wichita 9

 

Villanova Fight Song

 

The news couldn’t have been worse for Villanova. Coach Alex Bell’s 7-1 Wildcats were selected to meet the Wichita University Shockers in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 30 in El Paso. His top punter and key receiver, Ron Meyers was declared ineligible for the game because he had already entered into a professional agreement with the Cleveland Browns of the NFL.

 

Wichita State was a 6-point favorite with Coach Hank Foldberg’s flashy passing offense featuring Alex Zyskowski and Bill Stangerone. Bell found some relief from a dream the week of the game. In his dream, Villanova had led 14-3 at the half. As bad as things were going for Villanova, Wichita had problems of their own. They did not arrive in El Paso until the 29th because they had been forced to return to Wichita when the plane on which they were flying on developed engine trouble.

 

The 27th Sun Bowl was televised nationally on ABC. The series record between the two schools stood at 1-1, with Villanova winning 24-6 in 1957 and Wichita countering in 1958, 21-6.

The tone of the game was set early. Villanova’s defense bottled Wichita up and the offense drove 43 yards on two Billy Joe runs. Joe shook off three Shockers on a 19-yard touchdown run. In 1961, Billy Joe was a terrifying weapon. The 240-pound fullback was also a champion shot putter. While playing for less than half of the game, he would be named MVP on the strength of 63 yards on 8 carries. The Villanova defensive line, which outweighed Wichita by 17 lbs. a man up front, kept the pressure on all day. They keyed on back, Bill Stangerone and forced 4 Shocker interceptions. They knocked Alex Zyskowski out of the game with a head injury in the second half. He would not return until the last 5 minutes of the game.

Villanova led 7-0 throughout most of the first half. With less than three minutes to play, with Stangerone at quarterback, the Shockers drove 47 yards to the Wildcat 18-yard line. Bill Seigle kicked a Sun Bowl record, 36 yard field goal to bring the Shockers to within four at the half. The key play in the game occurred at the opening of the second half. Wichita fumbled the second half kickoff, which was recovered by VU at the 21. Joe Rettino’s 1-yard run gave the Wildcats a 14-3 lead. Later in the 3rd quarter, Villanova’s Sam Gruneisen kicked a 26 yard field goal which made the score 17-3.

 

In the final minutes of the game, Zyskowski returned to lead Wichita on a scoring drive. He hit Adolph Wilson with a 35-yard pass. Zyskowski then swept the end for the score on a 5 yard run with less than a minute remaining. The final score was 17-9.

The story of the game could be seen in the statistics. Villanova outgained Wichita on the ground, 225 yards to 111. Their defense was simply overpowering. With the pressure on and Zyskowski out of the game in the second half, the Shocks were unable to mount a challenge. They really never found their rhythm on offense.

 

It was Foldberg’s last game at WU. He was hired as the new head man at Texas A&M. He was the Valley’s Coach of the Year in both of his seasons at WU and his teams won the Conference title twice.

 

Wichita stops Villanova runner in the middle of the line.

 

Wichita's D. Hopkus (27) ducks through the Wildcat line early in the game for short gain.

 

Villanova's Billy Joe (35) was the MVP of the game.

 

Attendance: 15,000

Scoring Summary

First Quarter
VU- Joe 19 yard run (Gruneisen kick)

Second Quarter
WSU- FG Siegle 36

Third Quarter
VU- Rettino 1 yard run (Gruneisen kick)
VU- FG Gruneisen 36

Fourth Quarter
WSU- Zyskowski 5 yard run (pass failed)

 

Individual Statistics

 

Rushing

VU- Joe 8-63, Richman 7-45, Thomas 6-35, Rettino 12-28

WU- Stangerone 14-48, Stephens 7-23

 

Passing

VU- Sherlock 2-3-54

WU- Stangerone 3-6-29

 

Receiving

VU- Boyle 2-34, Mount 1-9

WU- Wilson 1-35, Ashcroft 1-19

 

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