Posts Tagged ‘Warren McVea’

Sept. 23,1967: Great Day for Cougars!

September 24, 2013
UH 37 - Michigan State 7. East Lansing, Michigan September 23, 1967

UH 37 – Michigan State 7.
East Lansing, Michigan
September 23, 1967

UH’s Wondrous Warren McVea (with his number 42 only visible as 2) takes off to the right on a 50-yard run in the second quarter that will result in several faked out jock straps strewn one by one on the grass of the Michigan State side of the field as he winds up eventually scoring near the far left side pylon.

Here’s how The Port Arthur News handled the Associated Press story on Page 14 of their Sunday, September 24, 1967 edition:



Mighty Spartans Fall, 37-7

East Lansing, Mich. (AP) Long bomb artist Dick Woodall and slithery Warren McVea led Houston to a smashing 37-7 football upset of third-ranked Michigan State, the defending Big Ten champions.

It was the first loss for the Spartans since the 1966 Rose Bowl and their worst beating since 1947, when Michigan pounded them 55-0.

Coach Bill Yeoman of Houston, formerly an assistant to Coach Duffy Daugherty, was asked if he was surprised by the 30-point victory by his unranked Cougars.

“Man,” drawled Yeoman in the dressing room, “that’s like asking Custer if he was surprised about all those Indians.”

Daugherty said the team tutored by his former aide deserved to win.

Warren McVea

Warren McVea

McVea, a 5-foot-8 halfback who averaged 10 yards per carry the past two seasons, zipped away on a touchdown sprint of 50 yards, (earlier) cut loose on a 48-yard run deep into MSU territory and piled up 155 yards rushing in the rout.

“You had to be close to him to appreciate some of his faking,” Daugherty praised. “He’s the quickest runner I’ve seen in a long time.”

Woodall, a 6-foot-1 senior, came back from an ankle injury last week to hit touchdown passes of 77 yards to end Ken Hebert on a 77-yard play and flanker Don Bean on a 76-yard play, both in the second half.

The Cougars, fresh from a 33-13 trouncing of Florida State last weekend, posed the first test for the Spartans, who had a seasoned offense built around quarterback Jimmy Rae.

But the 6-foot-1 Woodall, also a senior,  outsparkled Michigan State’s attack, and McVea, who cut loose on a 48-yard run in the first quarter, had a 105 yards rushing in the first half.

Spartans Fizzle

The Spartans offense fizzled at several key junctures, including advance to the Houston three and 10, where a penalty helped the Cougars halt the Spartans.

But Houston throttled Michigan State’s passing game at key points, too, turning an interception by Mike Simpson into a 59-yard touchdown run with 34 seconds left in the game.

An interception by Tom Paciorek gave Houston possession on its 39 while the Cougars trailed 7-3 in the second period. Ken Bailey, in relief at quarterback, passed 29 yards to Hebert. McVea, a swift, squirmy sprinter, (then) broke for 50 yards up the middle and scored the touchdown that put Houston on top to stay.

On the second play after an MSU punt, Woodall hit the streaking Hebert for the 77-yard touchdown that gave Houston a ten point lead, 17-7 (in the third quarter).

Spartans Pass

The Spartans came back passing, with Raye hitting end Al Brenner for 13 yards, but successive passes went incomplete and Michigan State punted.

An exchange of punts followed and Houston set up on its 11. McVea ran for 14 yards on the first play. Then Woodall lofted a bomb to Bean, who sprinted in on a 76-yard play. (UH now led, 24-7.)

Six plays carried 66 yards in Michigan State’s only scoring march. Thomas took a pitchout from Raye and skirted the left sideline on his 44-yard touchdown trip (1st Quarter, giving MSU a 7-3 lead.)

Daugherty had worried about his defense, which was riddled by losses from graduation. Bubba Smith, George Webster, and Charlie Thornhill were among the veterans who went to the professional ranks. Daugherty learned his fears were not unfounded.

155 for McVea

McVea, only 5-foot-8, did ballet steps as he slithered easily through the MSU defense on his 50-yard scoring run. The little zipper, who average 10 yards per carry in his first two seasons as a college player, had 155 yards rushing for the afternoon. Paul Gipson was (the) second top rusher for the Cougars with 58 yards.

Thomas led MSU statistics with 60 yards rushing – most of it in his touchdown bolt. Raye, who been noted as a running quarterback, was held to 45 yards on the ground. Dwight Lee made 38 yards for MSU.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve taken our lumps like that,” MSU Coach Duffy Daugherty concluded in a sidebar comment after the game.

First Downs 13 15
Rushing Yardage 200 174
Passing Yardage 216 133
Return Yardage 120 227
Passes: Comp/Att/Int 5/12/1 10/24/3
Punts-Ave Yards 7-44 8-36
Fumbles Lost 0 0
Penalty Yards 25 67
Scoring 1st Quarter 2nd Quarter 3rd Quarter 4th Quarter FINAL
Houston 3 7 7 20 37
Michigan St 0 7 0 0 7
1st Quarter
UH – Hebert, FG 3 0
2nd Quarter
MS – Thomas, TD, 44 yard run (unreadable PAT) 3 7
UH – McVea, TD, 50 yard run (Hebert PAT) 10 7
3rd Quarter
UH – Hebert, TD, 77 yard pass from Woodall (Hebert PAT) 17 7
4th Quarter
UH – Bean, TD, 76 yard pass from Woodall (Hebert PAT) 24 7
UH – Bailey, TD, 2 yard run (Bailey PAT) 31 7
UH – Simpson, TD, 59 yard pass intercept (kick block) 37 7

– Port Arthur (TX) News, Sunday, September 24, 1967, Page 14

Wondrous Warren McVea.

January 10, 2010

He was a human water bug as a running back. Try to trap him with your hands as a defensive lineman and he will simply relax the muscles in his legs and torso, allowing your touches to suddenly slide off his body as though they were spoons slipping off a buttered noodle. You are left in the lurch, grasping at air as the water bug quickly squirts off in another burst of animated motion down the field behind you.

If you then, as one of three linebackers, pick up all this happening before your disbelieving eyes, you have about one nanosecond to make eye contact with the tiny approaching figure as he looks you one way and then dashes around you another. By the time you have all relocated your jock straps, the water bug has gone again, moving deeper into your team’s side of the fifty, and now heading on a left angled diagonal trek across the field and into the intercepting pathways of four quick, cunning, and converging defensive backs.

As interceptor one, you make a calculated dive for the dancing legs. They boogie by your empty-armed grasp and you are left tumbling on a teeth-clinching roll into the turf.

As interceptors two and three, you pick up the bug in your sites and attack from cross angles. One of you reaches a left shoulder, causing the bug to spin back. The other of you explodes against the right calf of the bug as it turns back from you in response to the other side assault. Another nanosecond later and the two of you joint interceptors are crashing into each other. A near 360 degree spin by the water bug has first freed him from your almost deadly grasp and then propelled him on a course to the opposite right pylon corner of the now even evermore inviting goal line.

As the fourth, last, and greatest interceptor. you close in upon the water bug from an angle that is slightly to his left. Your paths converge at the one yard line. Just as you are about to finally bring down the elusive bug, he stares and you blink. A quick frame later, the water bug has braked just long enough to cut behind you and step over the goal line for an 84-yard touchdown run.

At journey’s end, no ball-slamming or end zone dancing takes place. The water bug simply discards  the no-longer-needed football with a gently releasing toss and trots back to his team’s sideline.

“What an incredible run! How does the guy do it?” As a fan, your dual points of exclamation and wonder about the water bug helped invent the word redundancy as it came to apply to sports page expression in the 1960s.

That human water bug, of course, was a diminutive running back from the University of Houston named Warren McVea. Between the lines, there’s never been another one like him. His ability to escape capture in an open field made him something like the Harry Houdini of college football back in the salad days of “once upon a time.”

Here’s how it all began, once upon a time in San Antonio, just days after the John F. Kennedy assassination in November 1963. Brackenridge and Lee high schools of San Antonio met in the Alamo City in a state football bi district playoff game that is still regarded by many (and all of us who saw it) as the greatest playoff game in Texas High School Football history. It also marked the very daybreak of television’s power to make overnight stars of high school kids. The image-building job was made easier by the fact that this game featured two kids who were doing pretty darn good on their own without the face of television.

Linus Baer of Lee and Warren McVea of Brackenridge were each the star running backs of their two schools, propelling their teams over all comers with virtually unstoppable running attacks. Now they had to play each other and it was anyone’s guess as to which team would prevail. The demand for tickets was so great that the game was put on television by a San Antonio station. I’m not sure how far their TV coverage reached into other markets, but I was fortunate to have been visiting with my folks in Beeville following the Kennedy death and I got to watch it with my dad.

Both clubs put their stars back to receive on kickoffs. As a result, both clubs avoided kicking deep. The one time that Lee made the mistake of doing so, Warren McVea ran it back something close to 100 yards for a touchdown. McVea collected over 200 yards rushing in the game and both stars scored multiple touchdowns before Lee finally prevailed on a last second touchdown by 55-48.

Linus Baer went on to play for the University of Texas Longhorns. Warren McVea had his pick of any top school in the country that then accepted black players. Above 73 others, McVea chose to sign with the University of Houston and to become the first black football player in the school’s history.

At UH from 1965-1967, McVea played masterfully in multiple rolls as a running back, wide receiver, and kick returner. On September 23, 1966, McVea took a pass from QB Bo Burris and went 99 yards for an unbreakable one-play distance TD catch-and-run record against Washington State. In 1967, McVea’s 84 some-odd yard touchdown run against Michigan State led the visiting Cougars to national prominence with a 37-7 win on the road at East Lansing. He made two first team All American teams in 1966-67 and then left UH for an NFL career.

After a six-year stint with Cincinnati and Kansas City of the NFL, McVea played briefly with the Detroit Wheels and old Houston Texans of the now long defunct World Football League. By this time, the 5’8″ 160 pounds soaking wet water bug had seen his better jiggling days.

Sinking into a life dominated by domestic violence, petty crime, and heavy drug addiction, Warren McVea sadly found himself sentenced to twenty-years in the Texas Department of Corrections penitentiary system.  After several years of incarceration, McVea was paroled and left to pick up the pieces of his once promising life. From all appearances, he apparently has done that neatest escape from ignominy.

Warren McVea today is sober and living in San Antonio. He works as a courier/delivery guy in the Alamo City . He came to Houston and was admitted to the University of Houston Athletic Hall of Honor in 2004 and he has since also been inducted into the San Antonio Athletic Hall of Fame.

Life’s one day a time now. If Warren McVea can avoid a relapse into that lost dark hall of the soul, it will be the greatest escape of the water bug’s life. With God’s help, it will be done.