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THE WINNING TOUCHDOWN IN THE 100TH YEAR OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL COMPLETES A PERFECT SEASON AND A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP FOR THE TEXAS LONGHORNS

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Bobby Wuensch #50 , Jim Bertelsen, and Randy Peschel had the key blocks on the touchdown.

Two days before the start of the 1969 national championship season, Coach Royal made the correct decision to promote Jim Bertelsen to first team and move Billy Dale to second team.  It was a dark day in my life, but the right choice for the 1969 Texas Longhorns. Jim was a great running back who set several records at Texas and was a Pro bowl participant for the L.A. Rams.      

After the demotion, Coach Royal pulled me to the side after practice and said (I am paraphrasing his comment) Billy do not get down on yourself. You are a valuable member of this team. We need your skills as a blocking back so I am going to use you to carry in the offensive play when appropriate. You will need to learn the plays at both the right and left half back positions so we can maximize your blocking ability. Coach was true to his word. During the 1969 season I was used as a blocking “lineman” positioned in the backfield . The opposition knew when I entered the game it was probably to block so the defense planned accordingly.

Royal did not care if the opposing team knew our tendencies since the wishbone was a read option offense with three potential ball carriers on every play. Since neither the offense or defense knew who would get the ball prior to the play,  Royal was confident the Longhorns could execute the Wishbone and win the game regardless of tendencies.   He was right! 

 

The Game Plan for Notre Dame and the National Championship

The game plan was no different than other games that year. Coach Royal said to the press "we are going to dance with who brung us", and he did! As in the other games in 1969, I was used primarily as the blocking back.

In the 4th quarter the dynamics of the game changed. Ted Koy got hurt, and I replaced him. It was a tough day for me. I think I gained 12 yards on 10 carries. On the drive that won the game Ted had returned to the huddle, and I had returned to Coach Royal’s side. On the 3rd and 1 from the one yard line with time running out, Coach Royal grabbed me by the mask and said “I am calling your number”. He said “go in at right halfback and call Counter right 55”. ( "55" is not an option play. It is a designed play with a hand off to the right halfback.)  When I entered the huddle and called the play all 10 of my teammates, who usually kept their heads down as I called the play, raised their heads in unison as to say “really?” 

 

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Steve Worster freezes the defense

 

 

Everyone in the huddle assumed Steve Worster would get the ball. Notre Dame thought the same thing-  Dale comes into the game so the ball is either going to Worster or Bertelsen. History proves otherwise and after studying the game film, it is obvious that Notre Dame was convinced Worster would get the ball.  Worster did a great job of freezing the defense on the touchdown play. 

                                                                                           

The Play

I Don't Remember Tom Campbell's Exact Quote On My Facebook Page, But He Told All My Friends That A 90 Year Old Woman Could Have Made That Touchdown.  Thru The Years Many Other Teammates Jokingly Have Made Similar Statements And Factually They Are Correct So I Never Defend Myself. I Just Smile And Enjoy The Moment. 

It was just one yard, but the play still needed a strategy. The hitting on both sides of the ball was brutal so my first priority was to protect the ball with both arms and both hands. Then I decided not to look for a hole in the defense. (Looking for a hole tends to slow down forward momentum.) Since I was not going to look for a hole the logical decision was to use my helmet as a battering ram, lean forward as far as humanly possible, run to the hole as diagrammed, and hope my teammates studied the same diagram.  They did!

Years later Coach Royal told me that during the game he and Coach Bellard studied Notre Dame's defensive tendencies when I entered the game. So Coach  knew that the Notre Dame defense would discount me as the ball carrier and make some defensive adjustments to prepare for Worster and Bertelsen. 

While Tom Campbell's comment is correct on that fateful day -January 1, 1970- destiny was with me and not a 90 year old woman. History records that Billy Dale with the support of Worster as the decoy followed great blocks from Jim Bertelsen, Randy Peschel, and Bobby Wuensch  to make the winning touchdown against Notre Dame in the 100th year of college football to cement the National Championship for the Texas Longhorns.

I will take it!!