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1974 Season Book - Week 12

Sports Daily

September 25, 1974

Birmingham, Memphis Dominate WFL

The World Football League reached mid-September and in the league's Eastern Division a dog-fight was developing. The Florida Blazers, 7-4, and the New York Stars, 7-4, were ignoring their various off-field problems and focusing on the division's title. The Blazers hosted the Philadelphia Bell in Orlando and New York traveled 12,000 miles to the island of Hawaii. In the Central Division, the Birmingham Americans, coming off their first loss of the season, were at 10-1 and in a fight with the Memphis Southmen for first place. The Americans hosted the Houston Texans at Legion Field in Birmingham. The Texans, surrendered to the WFL by owner R. Steven Arnold, announced their proposed move to Shreveport, Louisiana. The WFL announced that Shreveport banker Bill Bernard would hold the franchise and organize an investment group to maintain the team in Louisiana. As the WFL informed reporters of the move, Judge Arthur Lesher ordered the Texans to play one more game at the Astrodome. The temporary restraining order blocked the proposed move to Shreveport due to L.A. Frey and Company, a New Orleans meat products concern, seeking a court order preventing the transfer of the Memphis game contending such action would damage a ticket promotion it was sponsoring. The WFL eventually worked out a settlement and the Texans were allowed to go ahead with their move. In another move, WFL commissioner Gary Davidson suspended Houston coach Jim Garrett for "conduct detrimental to the league". One report was the Garrett's suspension came because he urged the team not to report to Shreveport, a report denied by Garrett. Texan quarterback Mike Taliaferro said he would not go to Shreveport due to "personal reasons". The WFL named Henry Lee Parker, director of operations of the WFL, was named interim coach for the Birmingham game.

Florida Blazers 24, Philadelphia Bell 21.

orlando, fla,; Quarterback Bob Davis hit Greg Latta (pictured above) with a 21-yard touchdown pass with :17 remaining to give the Florida Blazers a 24-21 win over the Philadelphia Bell. A crowd of 10,417 (with only 8,701 paying) saw the lead change hands twice in the last two minutes. It looked as if the Bell had clinched the victory with a 12-yard touchdown by running back Claude Watts with just 1:14 left but the Blazers rallied back. Davis completed three passes in a row to put the Blazers at the Philadelphia 22 with :30 remaining. With the small crowd on its feet, Davis then hit Latta with the game winner, stunning the Bell.

Booth Lusteg's 28-Yard Field Goal Gives Storm 19-17 Win Over Sharks

Shark Dennis Hughes is tackled to end Jacksonville's come back attempt

jacksonville, fla.; Booth Lusteg booted a 28-yard field goal on the last play of the game giving the Portland Storm a 19-17 win over the Jacksonville Sharks. 16,041 fans at the Gator Bowl watched the Storm narrowly escape with the win. Leading 16-3 at the start of the fourth quarter, Jacksonville mounted a comeback. Shark running back Alfred Haywood swept right 7 yards on a sweep through two Portland defenders to cut the lead to 16-10. Minutes later, quarterback Kay Stephenson hit Carl Swierc for a 25-yard touchdown pass and a 17-16 lead. Former Oklahoma star Joe Wylie, who earlier in the game ran back a punt for a touchdown, caught a 21-yard pass from Pete Beathard to set up Lusteg's game winning field goal. (Pictured above, Dennis Hughes dives for a first down against Portland).

Southmen Put Out Fire 25-7, Jennings Rushes for 132

JJ Jennings rushes for 132 yards against Chicago

chicago, il.; JJ Jennings ran for 132 yards on 20 carries and quarterback John Huarte threw two touchdown passes to lead the Memphis Southmen over the Chicago Fire 25-7. It marked the third straight loss for the injury-plagued Fire. The Southmen opened the scoring in the first quarter when quarterback John Huarte dropped back and hit Henry Wallace for a 22-yard touchdown pass and a 8-0 lead. The Southmen never looked back. Late in the game Virgil Carter hit Jack Dolbin for a score but the game was well out of hand for a Fire team that played without leading rusher Mark Kellar and leading receiver James Scott. A crowd of 26,678 fans at Soldier Field watched and wondered about their teams' dwindling playoff hopes. (Pictured above, JJ Jennings runs through Chuck Bailey and Tom Roussel).

Birmingham Americans 42, Louisiana 14.

birmingham, al.; George Mira teamed with Alfred Jenkins on two scoring passes to lead the Birmingham Americans to a 42-14 rout of the new WFL Louisiana team. The Americans pulled away from a 15-14 half time lead with a 27-point scoring spree in the second half, including a 78-yard punt return by Willie Smith. The win, before an announced crowd of 33,619, gave the Americans a 11-1 record and a game lead over the Memphis Southmen. Mira hit Jenkins twice on end zone passes of 33 and 44 yards. (pictured above, Jimmy Edwards runs for daylight against Louisiana).

Near Sighted Kicker Beats Stars 17-14

R.A. Coppedge kicks winning field goal for Hawaiians

honolulu, hw.; Rhea Allen Coppedge, who preferred to be called "A.A.", kicked a winning field goal with 6:25 remaining to lead the Hawaiians over New York 17-14 before 12,169 fans. Coppedge kicked the field goal without the aid of is glasses, which were broken in the locker room, and his wobbly attempt hit the cross bar and fell over for the score. "I didn't think I kicked it hard enough," said Coppedge squinting at the game ball. "I can't see very far without my glasses. I didn't know it went over until I heard the crowd scream." (Pictured above, Coppedge kicks the winning field goal against the Stars).

Sun Come From Behind to Defeat Wheels 29-24

Sun defense cuts down Wheel receiver Jon Henderson

anahiem, ca.; Southern California struck again in the final minutes defeating the Detroit Wheels 29-24 before 22,143 at Anaheim Stadium. Backup quarterback Gary Valbuena led a three-play, 64-yard drive with 1:49 remaining to beat the Wheels. Valbuena, a rookie from Tennessee, threw a 26-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Dick Witcher for the game winning score. Detroit fought back from a 22-3 deficit as quarterback Bubba Wyche threw two touchdown passes to Terry Phillips and ran for another. Before time expired the Wheels had driven to the Sun 35 when cornerback Jim Bright intercepted a Wyche pass to kill the Detroit rally.

WFL Week Twelve MVP:

George Mira, Birmingham Americans

WFL Week Twelve Top Performers:

Passing - George Mira, Birmingham Americans 22 of 36, 380 yards, 2 touchdowns

Rushing - JJ Jennings, Memphis Southmen 20 carries, 132 yards

Receiving - Alfred Jenkins, Birmingham Americans 7 receptions, 153 yards, 2 touchdowns

WFL Standings:

Eastern Division:

Florida 8-4, New York 7-5, Philadelphia 5-7, Jacksonville 4-8

Central Division:

Birmingham 11-1, Memphis 10-2, Chicago 7-5, Detroit 1-11

Western Division:

Southern California 8-4, Hawaii 4-8, Houston 3-8-1, Portland 3-8-1

WFL Transactions:

Philadelphia Bell- signed QB Sonny Sixkiller.; Florida Blazers- signed free agent DT Walter Rock.; Portland Storm- signed LB Paul Guidry, OT Carl Johnson and RB Wayne Patrick, signed RB Robert Holmes, WR Jeff Baker, DE Kurt Matter, DE Clancy Oliver and TE Craig Cotton, placed TE Chris Vella on waivers.; New York Stars- announced the team will relocate to Charlotte, North Carolina, signed DB John Dockery, DE Joey Jackson, RB Lee Bouggess and WR Al Barnes, placed DB Wendell Wilson, LB Dana Carpenter and RB Andy Huff on waivers.; Chicago Fire- announced the retirement of OL Steve Wright.; Southern California Sun- signed K Rod Garcia, re-activated K Norm Hainlen, signed C/OT Paul Seiler.; Louisiana (Houston)- announced that the team will be named the Shreveport Steamer.

NOTE: This page was researched and written by Jim Cusano. This page appeared on the former World Football League Hall of Fame Website and is used with permission.