August 21, 2012

1974: Bob Gladieux Scores 4 TDs as NY Stars Rout Texans

The New York Stars of the World Football League were riding high (at least on the field) as they faced the Houston Texans on August 21, 1974. Coached by former pro quarterback Babe Parilli, the Stars had lost their first two games but then reeled off four straight victories. The offense was directed by QB Tom Sherman, included ex-Jets star WR George Sauer, and had the new league’s top-ranked rushing attack, led by a former Notre Dame standout in RB Bob Gladieux (pictured). The defense featured a line that was anchored by two more ex-Jets, DE Gerry Philbin and DT John Elliott. However, the club was forced to play its home games at the substandard Downing Stadium on out-of-the-way Randalls Island in the shadow of the Triborough Bridge, and attendance (not to mention credibility) suffered as a result.

The visiting Texans seemed to match up well with the Stars, for they boasted the top-rated rushing defense in the WFL. Coached by former Giants assistant Jim Garrett, Houston had a club laden with veterans. On offense, that included former AFL standouts in WR Don Maynard and FB Jim Nance, plus QB Mike Taliaferro and TE Willie Frazier. The defense had end Don Brumm, tackle Jim Kanicki, and LB Garland Boyette. Still, they sported a mediocre 2-3-1 record, largely due to an inability to score points.

There was a meager crowd of 12,042 at the poorly-lit Downing Stadium for the Wednesday night matchup. Things went wrong for Houston on the game’s third play when FB Mike Richardson fumbled and Philbin recovered for the Stars at the Texans’ 37. A 10-yard Tom Sherman completion to WR Al Young got the ball down to the one and Bob Gladieux scored on the next play. The action point failed (in the WFL, touchdowns counted for seven points and were followed by an “action point” that could not be kicked).

Another turnover gave the Stars the ball when CB Steve Dennis intercepted a pass at the New York 47. Sherman passed to WR Kreg Kapitan for 16 yards to the eight yard line and, from five yards out, threw to Gladieux for a touchdown. The Stars again came up empty on the action point attempt, but were ahead by 14-0.

The third New York score was set up thanks to a shanked 16-yard punt. Sherman passed twice to Young, for 24 and 7 yards, and then Young drew a 13-yard pass interference penalty. Gladieux scored another touchdown, plowing in from a yard out.

The Texans finally got on the board 30 seconds before halftime when Charlie Durkee kicked a 43-yard field goal, but Houston was in a deep hole at 21-3. A furious Coach Garrett berated his team at halftime and promised to rid the club of players that weren’t giving an adequate effort.

Garrett’s outburst failed to inspire the Texans in the second half. Bob Gladieux made it four touchdowns with a four-yard run in the third quarter to add to the home team’s lead. This time New York was able to convert the action point as Sherman passed to Young. The Stars had the game well in hand at 29-3. The contest became a rout before the period was over, this time with Sherman tossing a 25-yard touchdown pass to Kapitan. The action point failed, but it didn’t matter.

Houston scored its only other points of the game with just under nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter as Mike Richardson ran for a one-yard TD that was set up by QB Mike Taliaferro pass completions of 21 yards to Don Maynard and eight yards to TE Don Davis.

Sherman gave way at quarterback to rookie Gary Danielson, who completed two passes - to Kapitan for 16 yards and 23 yards to WR Tom Spinks to the Houston one yard line – and then scored on a quarterback sneak. Instead of a close battle, New York breezed to a 43-10 win.

The Stars rolled up an impressive 231 rushing yards and 405 overall to just 178 total yards for Houston. New York also held a huge edge in first downs, 25 to 11, and didn’t turn the ball over while the Texans suffered three, all of which proved costly.

Tom Sherman completed 10 of 20 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns. Bob Gladieux was the most notable offensive star, rushing for 84 yards on 20 carries and catching one short scoring pass that gave him a total of four touchdowns. RB Ed White added 69 yards on 16 attempts and RB Dave Richards gained 63 on 14 rushes. Al Young caught 5 passes for 63 yards and Kreg Kapitan gained 64 yards on his 4 receptions that included a touchdown.

For Houston, Mike Taliaferro completed 12 of 25 passes for just 81 yards. Mike Richardson and FB Jim Nance each gained 26 yards rushing, on 11 and four carries, respectively. WR Rick Eber led the receivers with three catches for 39 yards.

“I can’t believe this game! I thought it would be close,” New York’s Gerry Philbin exclaimed afterward.

“We weren’t ready to play,” said a disappointed Coach Jim Garrett. “It was obvious in the warmup.”

It was the fifth straight win for the Stars, and also the high point for their season. They played the Texans again the following week in Houston and lost, in a contest best remembered for the legally abbreviated appearance by DE John Matuszak for the home team, and never won consistently again. Unable to draw in New York, the franchise was sold and moved to Charlotte, North Carolina where it concluded the season with a final record of 10-10.

The Texans also failed to complete the season where they started, ending up in Louisiana as the Shreveport Steamer and going 7-12-1.

Bob Gladieux led the Stars in rushing with 690 yards on 177 carries (3.9 avg.) and caught a total of 9 passes for 99 yards. Despite his four-TD performance against the Texans, he ended up with a total of 7 touchdowns (the pass receiving score was his only one of the year). It was the final season of a nondescript five-year pro career spent mostly with the Patriots in the AFL and NFL.