On a chilly, breezy Friday night the Patriots turned three Raider turnovers into 17 points and held on late to win 34-28. Playing at Alumni Field before a gathering of 8,446 on the University of Massachusetts campus, the Patriots jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first on two Butch Songin touchdown passes. The second one came following a Tom Flores interception and Eddie Erdelatz decided to go with Babe Parilli in his stead. Parilli put together a 13-play drive that resulted in a Tony Teresa touchdown early in the second. Gino Cappelletti’s two field goals late in the period made the score 20-7 at the half.
The teams exchanged touchdowns in the third quarter, then the Patriots put the game out of reach early in the fourth when Jim Colclough made a nice leaping catch in the end zone to give his team a 34-14 lead. The Raiders responded with a pair of Teresa touchdowns late but couldn’t get any closer than six points before the gun sounded.
The Raiders had gone into the game with a chance at the Western Division lead, but the loss dropped them to 4-5, a game and a half behind the Chargers, who also played tonight, beating the Titans. For the Patriots, this was their first home win and it improved their record to 3-5, still well back of the Eastern Division-leading Oilers.
In the Oakland locker room after the game the team was angry over the mistakes, the blown opportunities, and the missed chance to stay in the thick of the division race. One player who was kicking himself was Teresa, who despite having a very nice game, was upset over a long run he made early in the fourth before Colclough’s touchdown. On a third-and-three from the Boston 46, he had broken free around the left side, but was brought down at the six. The Raiders failed to score, turning the ball over on downs.
“If only I had kept going straight,” said Teresa, “I probably could have outrun the Boston guy and gone in. Instead I cut. That’s the story of this game: so near and yet so far.”
Other missed opportunities included a pair of missed Larry Barnes field goal attempts, one of which followed an exciting 70-yard kickoff return by Jack Larscheid.
Coach Erdelatz was uncharacteristically quiet. “What can I say after that one,” was his response.
As mentioned, Teresa had a fine game despite his complaint. He carries 14 times for 90 yards, with the three scores, a team record, and the Raiders, as a whole, netted 181 yards on the ground, one of their best performances so far.
At quarterback, Flores started both the first and third quarters, but completed just three of seven passes for 45 yards and an interception. He also scored a touchdown with his feet on an eight-yard scramble in the third. Parilli, under whom the team moved more effectively, completed 11 of 22 for 122 yards and a pick. The leading receiver was Alan Goldstein, who caught four passes for 39 yards.
The Patriots made the most of their opportunities, cashing in on three of four Raider turnovers. On the ground, Dick Christy led the way with 60 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown. He also led the team in receiving with four catches for 120 yards and another score. Songin wasn’t efficient at quarterback, connecting on just 16 of 36 passes, but he made them count, throwing three touchdowns and no interceptions.
The final score wasn’t the only blow to the Raiders’ title hopes. Charley Powell left the game early with possibly cracked ribs. An x-ray exam was scheduled to determine the severity of the injury. Wayne Hawkins played through a bruised arm and his status was uncertain afterward. And to cap it off, Ramon Armstrong came down with a suspected case of the flu following the game causing dizziness and breathing difficulties – just another of the small illnesses that had plagued the team in recent weeks.
Despite the loss the Raiders were glad to finally end their three-game road trip and return home to take on Buffalo next Sunday. At 3-4, the Bills still had to play the Texans on Sunday before heading to the Bay Area. The Patriots would wait in Boston to host the 4-5 Titans.
Hayward Daily Review
Official American Football League gamebook
San Francisco Chronicle
San Rafael Independent-Journal