It had been an uncomfortably hot day in Sacramento but by game time the sun had gone down and the temperature had dropped into the mid-70s. A pleasant breeze took any remaining heat off the air and clear skies promised a perfect evening for football. It was under these conditions that the Oakland Raiders and New York Titans took the field at Hughes Stadium, on the campus of Sacramento City College. Just 9,551 paying customers filled the 22,000-seat facility to see the 0-1 teams get acquainted for the first time.
The Raiders took the opening kickoff. Tom Flores, again starting at quarterback, and with an expanded playbook at his command, marched his team down the field, 80 yards in 10 plays, for the opening score, a 28-yard pass to halfback Tony Teresa. It took the Titans two drives to match the Oakland effort. Dick Jamieson started at quarterback for head coach Sammy Baugh and with the help of a pair of completions to end Don Maynard and a pass interference call against Eddie Macon, closed things out with an seven-yard toss to halfback Bill Shockley. The quarter ended with the score tied at seven.
In the second period, the Raider offense found itself unable to get much going, aside from a missed Larry Barnes field goal attempt, but the Titans kept rolling. Jamieson put together another nice drive, this time aided by another pass interference call and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty aimed at Oakland players who crowded too close to the sideline. Fullback Pete Hart‘s leap over the pile from the two brought in the points and New York led, 14-7. A 22-yard field goal by Shockley later in the quarter extended the lead to ten.
The Raiders rebounded just before the half. A screen pass to fullback Billy Lott netted 51 yards and put Barnes in position for another field goal try. This one, from 35 yards away, was good and Oakland was down by just a touchdown at the interval.
Most of the third quarter was a stalemate. It was the Raiders who finally broke through late in the period when Flores regained his passing touch and began to drive downfield. By early in the fourth, his offense had reached the New York 28. From there, Jack Larscheid put together a nifty run over left guard that finished up in the end zone and tied the game at 17. Almost immediately thereafter, Raider linebacker Bob Dougherty picked off a pass from Al Dorow, the Titans’ second half quarterback, and gave his team another shot from the New York 21. Two plays later, halfback Dean Philpott ran it in from eight yards out and the Raiders led 23-17. Thurlow Cooper blocked Barnes’ conversion attempt to keep it that way.
The Titans had one more good scoring opportunity, but a big fourth-down stop by the Raider defense at their 19 ended it and the Oakland offense ran out the clock to give the franchise their first win.
Afterward, Oakland head coach Eddie Erdelatz was proud of his team’s moxie. “They came back tough in the second half,” he said, “and that was the difference.”
The biggest reason for coming back tough was Larscheid, who did most of his damage in the second half. At 5’6″, the Raider halfback had had to prove that his small size was no obstacle to good play. “This sure is a great club to play with,” he said, “I consider myself luck to have gotten coach Erdelatz to give me a chance. Other coaches have turned me down because of my size and I can’t say I blame them too much. I was hurt early after reporting to training camp at Santa Cruz, but the coaches told me I wouldn’t be cut until I had had a chance to show what I could do. That’s all I wanted.”
Now even at 1-1, the Raiders had just six days to prepare for the next game, a Friday night bout back at Kezar against their California rivals, the Los Angeles Chargers. Meanwhile, the Titans at 0-2 were next due in Abilene in a week to play the Dallas Texans.
Hayward Daily Review
San Mateo Times