Countdown to Kickoff
FRIDAY FOOTBALL FLASHBACK: Alabama 34, Houston 20 (1971)



By Barry Allen
UA Media Relations

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. ?? The last time the University of Alabama football team hosted the Houston Cougars in Tuscaloosa, two well-known running backs combined for 305 rushing yards in the Crimson Tide’s 34-20 win in front 56,939 fans at Denny Stadium.

Alabama’s All-American halfback Johnny Musso (22-123-2) and Houston’s Robert Newhouse (22-182-0) ran 44 times for more than 300 yards in a game that Cougars out-gain the Crimson Tide by almost 100 yards.  Another UH tailback Tommy Mozisek carried 18 times for 105 yards and one touchdown as the Cougars racked 300 yards on the ground in the loss.

Alabama quarterback Terry Davis completed 5 of 10 passes for 59 yards and two touchdowns in the win.  Musso also completed a 10-yard halfback pass.  Houston quarterback Gary Mullins completed 14 of 30 pass attempts for 118 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

David Bailey led all UA receivers with four catches for 55 yards and two touchdowns.  Houston’s Riley Odoms led all receivers with seven catches for 39 yards and two touchdowns.  Pat Orchin caught four passes for 53 yards in the loss.

The Crimson Tide opened the scoring on its second possession of the game.  The Cougars, because of an offensive pass interference penalty, were forced to punt from their end zone.  Alabama got the ball at the 50 and scored in 12 plays.  Musso got the touchdown as he took a delayed pitchout around left end for the 2-yard run.  Bill Davis’ extra point gave Alabama a 7-0 lead.

Houston matched the touchdown early in the second quarter.  Starting at its own 38-yard line, the Cougars moved 62 yards in 10 plays. Mozisek, behind a key block from David Bourquin, scored from the 3-yard line.  Sandy McCrea’s extra point knotted the score at 7-7.

Following the Cougar kickoff, Alabama marched 68 yards in 12 plays to regain the lead.  Davis moved the Tide downfield to the UA 10-yard line in 11 plays.  On the next play, Davis threw a 10-yard pass to David Bailey as the Tide went back ahead 13-7.  Bill Davis’ extra point made it 14-7. 

On its next possession, Alabama again got into the end zone by going to the air.  From the UA 29, the Tide marched 71 yards in seven plays, capped by a 25-yard pass from Davis to Bailey.  Bill Davis missed the extra point and Alabama led 20-7.

The Crimson Tide kicked off with only 43 seconds left in the second quarter and Houston nearly closed the gap with a last-second touchdown. Orchin returned the kickoff to the UH 37-yard line.  Newhouse gained 12 on a draw and Mullins hit Orchin on a 13-yard gain to the UA 38-yard line.  On first-and-10 from the UA 36, Mullins hit Riley Odoms deep at the 2-yard line.  Odoms juggled the ball and caught it falling into the end zone.  It was all erased as UH was penalized for illegal motion and the half ended two plays later.

A 64-yard punt return by Bobby McKinney set up the Tide’s next score, giving UA first-and-goal at the UH 9-yard line.  Musso’s sweep around right end on the next play from scrimmage gave the Tide a 26-7 lead.  UA’s two-point conversion pass was incomplete.

The Cougars put together an impressive drive late in the third quarter behind the passing of Mullins and the running of Newhouse and Mozisek.  Mullins 3-yard pass to Odoms capped the 12-play, 97-yard scoring drive.  McCrea’s extra point made it a 26-14 game headed into the final quarter.

Alabama took the ensuing kickoff and stayed on the ground for a 10-play, 69-yard scoring drive that increased the lead to 20 points early in the fourth quarter.  Joe LaBue’s 10-yard run capped the drive and Terry Davis ran the ball in for a two-point conversion as the Tide led 34-14.

On its next possession, Houston marched 80 yards for its final touchdown of the game with just over eight minutes left in the game.  Newhouse made a 20-yard run on the drive and Mullins capped the drive with a 3-yard pass to Odoms.  The extra point attempt sailed wide and left UH with a 34-20 deficit.

Alabama’s defense took over and held the Cougars twice in the final five minutes.  The Cougars turned the ball over on downs and Mullins was intercepted.  Alabama defensive back Steve Higgenbotham recorded the interception and added a 45-yard return as time expired.


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Houston   0   7   7   6    20 
Alabama   7  13   6   8    34 

First Quarter:

UA ?? Johnny Musso 2-yard run (Bill Davis kick)

Second Quarter:

UH ?? Tommy Mozisek 3-yard run (Scott McCrea kick)
UA ?? David Bailey 10-yard pass from Terry Davis (Bill Davis kick)
UA -- David Bailey 25-yard pass from Terry Davis (kick failed

Third Quarter:

UA ?? Musso 9-yard run (Davis kick)
UH ?? Riley Odoms 3-yard pass from Gary Mullins (McCrea kick)

Fourth Quarter:

UA ?? Joe LaBue 10-yard run (Terry Davis run)
UH ?? Odoms 3-yard pass from Mullins (kick failed)

Attendance: 56,939