April 24, 2010

1983: Eric Truvillion’s 3 TD Receptions Help Bandits Defeat Federals

The Tampa Bay Bandits had won their first four games in the United States Football League’s inaugural season, but had stumbled in losing two of the next three contests. The loss of veteran QB John Reaves with a broken wrist didn’t help matters.

On April 24, 1983 the Bandits traveled to Washington to take on the lowly (1-6) Federals at RFK Stadium before a sparse crowd of 9070. Jimmy Jordan, a former star at Florida State, had taken over at quarterback. Like Reaves, Jordan wasn’t very mobile and also suffered from a sore shoulder, but he proved to be effective in this, his first start.

It looked like it would be an easy win for the Bandits as they broke out to a 20-6 halftime lead. Jordan hit WR Eric Truvillion with three touchdown passes, of 28, 15, and six yards (the extra point attempt was blocked after the first one). Washington only got on the board thanks to a 94-yard kickoff return by RB Eric Robinson after the first Tampa Bay score (the Bandits blocked the ensuing PAT attempt in turn).

However, sloppy play by the Bandits - they turned the ball over seven times in all - allowed the Federals to nearly pull the game out. First, RB Craig James ran for a 19-yard touchdown to cut the margin to 20-13 in the third quarter. Then in the fourth quarter, QB Mike Hohensee passed to WR Mike Holmes for a 10-yard TD that tied the score. The Federals gained the lead at 23-20 with a 23-yard Dale Castro field goal, but it didn’t last long.

Jordan took the Bandits to the Washington 15 yard line on the next possession, which culminated in Zenon Andrusyshyn re-tying the game at 23-23 with a 31-yard field goal. CB Leon Williams intercepted a pass to regain possession for Tampa Bay, and with under three minutes remaining RB Carl Franks dashed 18 yards through the middle for the winning touchdown. The final score was 30-23 in favor of the Bandits.

Jimmy Jordan completed 30 of 45 passes for 345 yards with the three touchdowns, but tossed three interceptions as well. Eric Truvillion caught 9 passes for 113 yards with the three scores, while WR Danny Buggs also exceeded a hundred receiving yards with 103 on 7 catches. RB Sam Platt led the club in rushing with 71 yards on 22 carries; he also contributed a further 49 yards on 7 pass receptions.

The two Washington quarterbacks, rookie Mike Hohensee and veteran Joe Gilliam, combined to complete 16 of 37 passes for 213 yards with a TD and four interceptions (Hohensee tossed the TD while Gilliam had three of his passes picked off). Craig James rushed for 60 yards on 15 attempts. WR Joey Walters was the Federals’ top receiver with 7 catches for 85 yards.

Tampa Bay gave up more turnovers than Washington thanks to four fumbles and the three passes picked off, but also won the total yardage battle (452 to 267) and dominated in first downs (31 to 16) and time of possession (35:28 to 24:32). The Federals recorded the only sacks of the contest, however, with three; 1.5 were credited to 15-year veteran DE Coy Bacon.

The Bandits encountered rough going the rest of the way, finishing with an 11-7 record that put them in third place in the Central Division and out of the playoffs. Washington went 4-14 to end up at the bottom of the Atlantic Division, tied with Arizona for the worst record in the league.

Jordan performed well overall, placing fourth among the USFL’s passers (Reaves was 12th) as he completed 60.9 % of his 238 throws for 1831 yards with 14 TDs and 14 interceptions. Eric Truvillion was an All-League selection both by the USFL and The Sporting News as he caught 66 passes for 1080 yards and 15 touchdowns (Danny Buggs grabbed 76 passes for 1146 yards, but with just 5 TDs). Prize rookie Craig James was one of the few bright spots for the Federals as he rushed for 823 yards on 202 carries.