It was hot and sweaty, there was next to nobody watching, and the Raiders were on short rest twice over. But for a half it didn’t matter. With the temperature creeping up toward the high 80s, just 3,500 locals turned out in the early afternoon sun to see the Pats host Oakland at University of Massachusetts Stadium.
The first break of the contest went to Boston when Jack Larscheid, who was in the game despite injury, was hit by Tony Sardisco and Gino Cappelletti. The Raider halfback fumbled and lost the ball at his own 39. The Patriots, with Butch Songin starting at quarterback, took seven plays to score, finishing up with a three-yard sweep by Walt Livingston, a former late-round pick of the Colts out of Heidelberg College in northern Ohio.
The Raiders fared better on their next drive under the leadership of Babe Parilli, going 69 yards in five plays, capping it with a 42-yard draw play by Billy Lott and that’s the way the first quarter ended, tied at seven.
In the second quarter, Boston was again the first team to score. Toiling fruitlessly in their own end of the field for the first few plays, a gimpy Ron Burton finally sparked the Pats with a nifty 56-yard scamper taking the ball close to the Raider end zone. A couple of short completions to Jim Colclough moved it to the one where Tom Greene, now in for Songin, carried it across on a quarterback sneak and Boston was back on top.
Parilli, who would play the entire contest, leaving Paul Larson marooned on the bench, responded with a will and drove his team 80 yards, largely by way of accurate passes to Tony Teresa. Now within striking range, Larscheid finished it off with a 16-yard run up the gut to tie the game.
The game remained tied at halftime and stayed that way through the third, but by now Songin had returned at quarterback for Boston and was ready to bring it home. He first struck paydirt on a nine-play, 86-yard drive, culminating in 25-yard touchdown pass to Mike Long, a rookie end out of Brandeis.
Leading 21-14, the Patriots had a chance to break it open, but LC Joyner intercepted Songin on their next drive keeping the Raiders in it. Hope didn’t last long. Larscheid coughed it up a second time, and linebacker Jack Rudolph, scooped up the ball for Boston.
All was not yet lost for Oakland. The Raider defense forced Boston to punt and Parilli drove his squad all the way to the Patriot 16, but Larscheid once again fumbled it away, this time to defensive back Leroy Phelps. Given another opportunity, Songin made good. Driving to the Raider 29, Songin loosed a pass to Colclough. Joyner had him covered closely and Colclough slipped toward the turf. Joyner knocked the ball down, but right into Colclough’s bread basket and the Pats receiver held on for the score. With less than four minutes to play, the competitive portion of the game was done and the Patriots held on to win, 28-14.
Afterward, Patriots coach Lou Saban said, “I was satisfied with the play of our team. Between the halves some of the players didn’t think they could do much more due to the heat, but they did.”
When asked about his opponent, Saban was gracious. “That Oakland team was no pushover,” he said, “I guess I’ll have to call Dallas the best team we’ve seen so far. They beat us anyhow. I wouldn’t want to rank the teams after Dallas, but Oakland is going to be tough. Their trouble right now is size. Their backs are so small, it’s a case of attrition. They have to run the backs so much that their effectiveness is lessened after they get hit a lot.”
Oakland head coach Eddie Erdelatz was, on the whole, positive as usual. “I thought these kids did real well,” he said, “Yes, they did a fine job, although fumbles hurt us badly.”
The Raiders were now ready to return home with 13 days to get ready for the Oilers. Finishing with a 2-3 preseason record, they proved they belonged in the league and could look forward to playing for keeps in the regular season.
The game wrapped up the exhibition season for Boston, too. They would begin preparing to host the Broncos on September 9 riding a wave of confidence. Their 4-1 preseason finish surprised all observers and persuaded the more impressionable among their fan base that they just might win it all.
Boston Daily Record
Hayward Daily Review
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