Published Dec. 11, 1961
Editor’s Note: In observance of the 50th anniversary of the 1961 San Benito Greyhounds, the San Benito News will feature in each weekend edition the story that covered the game of that week 50 years ago. This is the final game featuring the San Benito Greyhounds vs. the Nederland Bulldogs.
San Benito News
San Benito spotted Nederland two quick second quarter touchdowns, matched it with two of its own for a one-point lead that stood for twenty minutes, but then watched tackle Jerry Phillips lumber 40 yards with an interception fumble in the fourth quarter Saturday night as Nederland downed the Greyhounds 22-15 in a class AAA semi final football playoff.
A record crowd of 10,000 at Greyhound Stadium saw the two teams cram 29 points into the second quarter with San Benito on top by 15-14 at halftime.
That lead looked safe enough until midway through the fourth period when Phillips came up with his freak fumble interception to put Nederland in the class AAA finals opposite the Dumas Demons.
The loss was the first of the season for Coach Jake Helms’ Greyhounds, giving them a 12-1 campaign card. Nederland stretched its record for the year to 9-3-1.
Nederland also snapped a 17-game winning streak for San Benito. The Hounds had won 12 straight this year and the last five in 1960. The last time San Benito had lost before Saturday night was to Pharr-San Juan-Alamo, 18-8, in the District 16-AAA opener last year.
Thus Nederland goes into the state finals for the first time in four years, but the third time in six years. The Bulldogs won the state class AAA championship in 1957, 20-7 over Sweetwater, and went to the finals in 1956 when they lost to Garland, 3-0.
It was a defensive game almost all the way with the exception of a sparkling 50-yard touchdown run by San Benito’s All-State halfback Jim Helms in that wild second quarter.
Neither team could move the ball consistently on the ground. The statistics were about as even as the game, Nederland holding a 181-158 edge in total yards gained.
San Benito stayed with its 5-4 defense most of the way while the Bulldogs were switching from a 4-4-2-1 to a 6-2-2-1 to a 7-diamond alignment.
San Benito’s touchdowns came on the 50-yard scamper by Helms and after a 54-yard pass from quarterback Eddie McKaughan to end Domingo Ramirez carried to the Nederland 13-yard line.
Nederland got its scores after a fumble recovery at the Hound 22, after a punt runback to the San Benito 34 and on Phillips’ fumble interception.
Both clubs could boast only popgun offenses in the first quarter.
San Benito’s All-State guard Jerry Crow fell on the short opening kickoff at the Hound 46, but halfback Robert Cortez and fullback Jim Lewis carried once apiece for a minus one yard to bring up third down.
Helms headed to the left to throw his favorite running pass, but Nederland’s Jake David was there to snatch it away at the mid-field stripe.
Nederland found the going plenty sticky, however, and was forced to punt, the ball going into the end zone for a Greyhound first and 10 at the 20.
After three plays gained only five yards, though, McKaughan had to give the ball back to the Bulldogs with a punt to the Nederland 39.
Bobby Gibson picked up the first first down of the game when he rambled up the middle to the 50-yard line. After Steve Bailey picked up seven on the next play, however, the Greyhounds decided they had had enough.
Joe Fonseca spilled David for a three-yard loss and then Virgil Garcia and Helms dropped Robert Albritton three yards short of a first down to set up another punting situation on a fourth down and needing three.
Once again, Nederland’s Mike Wilson punted into the end zone for a touchback and a San Benito first down on its 20.
Helms lost three on a running try and Lewis was held for no gain to bring up third down. A pitchout attempt went awry in the Hound backfield, the ball being slapped around up to the 22 before Nederland’s All-State end James Overstreet pounced on it at the San Benito 22 to set up the Doggies’ first touchdown.
Power-running fullback Jimmy Pennington bulled for six to the 16-yard line and Bailey and Albritton gained eight more between them for a first and goal-to-go at the eight-yard line as the first period ended.
On the first play of the second quarter, Albritton fired complete to end Dan Hunt on the goal line in the right flat for the ice-breaker. A kicking try for an extra point was no good and Nederland held a 6-0 bulge with 11:55 left in the second quarter.
Slightly more than 4 minutes later, Nederland was to add to its advantage.
Taking the kickoff at their 26, the Greyhounds once again couldn’t find the fire for the elusive first down. Helms and Cortez were held for no gain on the first two plays before Helms managed four yards to the 30 to bring up fourth down.
McKaughan booted up to the Nederland 38 where Paul Decuir picked his way up the middle of the field back down to San Benito’s 34 yard-line for a first-and-ten. Decuir’s punt return that set up the Bulldogs’ second touchdown was a 28-yarder.
From the 34, the Dogs had little trouble figuring the Greyhound defense as it took them just four plays to go the distance.
Albritton gained nine off-tackle before Bailey clipped of 13 yards on a trap up the middle for a first down at San Benito’s 12-yard line.
David went wide on the left side for four yards to the eight before Pennington bulled over, carrying two tacklers with him, for the Doggies’ second touchdown.
Albritton sliced three yards for the two extra points that put Nederland in a 14-0 lead with 7:43 left in the second period.
With Nederland threatening to break the game open, however, the Greyhounds started the trip back to the top of the scoreboard.
On first down on San Benito’s 35 after the kickoff, Cortez picked up a yard to the 36, and then covered a fumble back to the 33 to bring up third down.
McKaughan decided to try the overland route, headed wide to the right side and connected with Ramirez on the Nederland 40. Ramirez dashed down the sideline and was rolled out of bounds by the last defender at the Dog 13.
On first down, Helms swept the left side to cross into the end zone, the official saying he stepped out of bounds at the one-yard line.
On first down from there, Lewis couldn’t gain, but Cortez smashed over with 3:58 left before halftime.
Helms used the left side sweeper for the two extra points that narrowed the score to 14-8.
Nederland gained one first down after San Benito kicked off, but the Greyhounds’ Tommy Goode fell in a Doggie fumble at the mid-field stripe that set the Hounds in motion for the go-ahead score.
On first down, Helms once again went wide left, but this time cut back against the grain up the middle and headed to the right side.
Albritton had a clear crack at him on the Nederland 15, but Helms rocked him off his feet with a stiff arm that carried the wallop of a boxer’s left jab, and danced into the end zone with 2:08 left before intermission.
McKaughan calmly booted true on the extra point try and the hounds had their 15-14 advantage that stood until that four-quarter nightmare.
After San Benito’s touchdown, Nederland bit off yardage in big chunks, picking up two first downs while traveling 32 yards from its own 35 to San Benito’s 33.
On third down play, however, San Benito’s Raul Saldaña intercepted a David aerial at the San Benito 18 and returned it to the 33 with only 20 seconds left in the half.
Helms gained two and McKaughan loss 10 to the 25 after an incomplete pass to end the first half.
In the first two quarters, San Benito held a total yardage lead of 112-106. Nederland led in rushing yardage, 85-58 and in first downs, 7-3, while San Benito held a 54-21 lead in passing yardage.
It was a punting game in the third quarter after Nederland received the kickoff. Each team booted twice in that period that saw only one pass thrown.
After a McKaughan boot traveled 48 yards late in the third quarter, the Dogs started the most serious last-half drive from their 32.
Bailey picked up a first down on the Nederland 49 and Gibson followed on the next play with 11 yards to the San Benito 40. It was Bailey’s turn again and he responded with eight yards to the Hound 32.
These gainers by Nederland were coming on off-tackle slants by the halfbacks, first to one side, then to the other.
On their first series of downs in the fourth quarter, however, the Doggies were slowed by the Hound defense to face fourth down and needing five at the 35 of San Benito.
Decuir picked up only four on the fake kick to give the ball to the Hounds on the 31 with just over eight minutes left to play.
It looked like the Hounds could grind up the field to kill the clock as Helms and Cortez combined efforts for a first down out on the 44, with 7:28 remaining.
Lewis gained two on the first down from there up to the 46.
On second down, Helms headed wide to the right side, but found himself trapped back at the 40. Just as he was hot, he tried to lateral back but Phillips was there to grab the ball mid air and he rumbled down the left side with three blockers around him for the winning score.
Albritton passed complete to Overstreet for two extra points and Nederland had its 22-15 lead with 6:45 left in the game.
San Benito saw three passes go incomplete following the kickoff and was forced to kick.
The Dogs took over on the 35 with 5:15 left to play
Staying on the ground all the way, Nederland ground out two first downs to San Benito’s 44 as the clock showed 2:45 left
On first down though, Helms tossed Albritton for a five-yard loss back to the 49 and Marlin Marby almost intercepted a David pass. Pennington lost another yard to the 50 to force a punt.
Wilson kicked out this time on San Benito’s 15-yard line with 1:25 left.
Running plays without a huddle, the Hounds managed to move the ball 20 yards before an interception killed the march.
Helms picked up 10 yards and a first down out to the 25. Then Don Uptegraph gained nine to the 34, but McKaughan lost 13 on a passing try.
On the next play, Nederland’s David Harris snatched a bobble pass at the San Benito 28 with only 16 seconds to play.
A play later, the game ended.