1964 Reunion: Texas Victory Biggest for Hogs

The victory over Texas in 1964 is still remembered as the landmark victory for the Arkansas program, setting the stage for a run to the National Championship. This is part of a series Hawgs Illustrated is running as part of the 50-year anniversary and that team's reunion set for the Alabama weekend.

As far as regular season games go, there have been no bigger for Arkansas than Oct. 17, 1964 at Texas.

The Razorbacks beat the No. 1 Longhorns 14-13 in one of five top 10 matchups between the programs that decade. The win put Arkansas in the driver’s seat for the Southwest Conference championship, but little did the team know at the time it would also put them on the track to a national title.

“Our major goal that we had control of was to win the conference and represent the conference in the Cotton Bowl,” said Ken Hatfield, a senior that season. “I’m not sure anybody really thought about the national championship too much at that time because no one ever said anything about it.”

Both teams entered the game undefeated. The Razorbacks’ road there had been relatively unimpressive, beating only one team - TCU - by more than 11 points.

Texas, on the other hand, had been very impressive through its first four games. The Longhorns had defeated Tulane, Texas Tech and Army by a combined score 71-6 the first three games of the season and beat Oklahoma 28-7 at the Red River Shootout in Dallas one week before Arkansas came to town.

A capacity crowd of 65,700 fans filled Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin.

“After three games, although we had won, we weren’t much better than what we thought we were in 1963,” said Fred Marshall, the team’s starting quarterback. “The TCU game was really a boost for us and then we played a good game against Baylor. After the Baylor game we turned from a mediocre team into a good team with confidence. After we beat Texas, it’s history.”

The teams felt one another out in the first quarter. Texas missed a field goal and Arkansas had a drive stall near the Longhorns’ redzone. It wasn’t until Texas punter Ernie Koy boomed a long punt in the second quarter that the Razorbacks broke the scoreless tie. As Hatfield awaited the ball, an article he had read in the Austin newspaper that morning was on his mind.

An analyst in the Austin newspaper previewed the game and wrote, “I can guarantee you one thing today: Arkansas will not return a punt for a touchdown,” remembered Hatfield.

The “Arkansas Wall” had become nationally-known by 1964. Coaches flocked to Fayetteville during the off-season to watch film of the innovative punt return scheme Frank Broyles used to make the Razorbacks a special teams juggernaut.

“Back then one of the most exciting games was a 3-0 game,” said Hatfield, who led college football in punt return yards his final two seasons. “Every play could make the difference in winning or losing the game. Usually the big plays were made in the kicking game. If you had a punt return or you had a blocked kick, that was usually the play that decided a ball game.

“We spent a lot of time in practice on setting the punt return up. The first one to take advantage of it was Lance Alworth, who was probably the best punt returner we’ve ever had. He was such a beauty to watch when he caught the ball. Every time he touched it he had a chance to go all the way. I think that helped all the guys who came after him realize that if we busted our tails and got back to where we were supposed to be, we had a chance to make a big play.”

Hatfield caught the ball and started left. He sidestepped a couple of defenders and got a crucial block from Jim Lindsey on his way to the sideline. Once he reached it, no one touched him.

“He out-kicked his coverage a little more than he normally did,” Hatfield said of Koy. “That enabled me a chance to catch the ball and to get started north and south. I think there were seven blocks on that one play and they knocked everybody down. It was a matter of catching the ball and getting to the wall. When I got to the end zone I looked at our fans who were all on the south side. I could just see the joy they had, so it felt good.”

Hatfield said the return, still featured with a photo in the Razorbacks’ media guide, was the most memorable play of his career.

“We had the confidence then that we could be ahead of the best team in the nation,” Hatfield said. “At that point we knew we could score against them.”

The game was far from over after Hatfield’s punt, though. Texas tied the game when Phil Harris scored on a 2-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to cap a 46-yard drive.

Aided by a Texas penalty for too many players on the field on fourth down, Arkansas responded with one of its best drives of the season to take the lead in the fourth quarter. Lindsey and Bobby Nix rushed for 8 and 7 yards on consecutive plays before Marshall passed for 11 yards to Bobby Crockett, who made a shoestring catch.

Two plays later, Marshall threw to Crockett again down the left sideline. Crockett was behind his defender and took the ball in for a 34-yard touchdown.

Texas answered with a 70-yard drive, capped with a 1-yard touchdown run by Koy with 1:27 remaining. The Longhorns opted to go for the 2-point conversion and the win.

Arkansas assistant coach Wilson Matthews convinced Broyles and defensive coordinator Jim Mackenzie to call a pass defense on the play. It surprised just about everyone because Texas rarely passed and Longhorns coach Darrell Royal had once famously quipped, “There are three things that can happen when you pass the ball and two of them are bad.”

But Matthews’ gut instinct was the right call. Texas quarterback Marvin Kristynik rolled to his right but was pressured by Arkansas defensive end Jim Finch. Kristynik rushed the pass despite having a receiver open at the goal line and the ball fell to the ground.

Arkansas ran out the clock for its first win over Texas in four years.

The Razorbacks’ win in 1964 helped spark a rivalry that was one of the nation’s best for the next quarter-century. Arkansas came from behind to beat the Longhorns in a No. 1 vs. No. 3 matchup the next year in Fayetteville and the series hit its fever pitch with “The Big Shootout” in 1969.

“Everybody was after Texas and I don’t know of anybody that didn’t hate Texas, but there was respect,” Marshall said. “I think the most respect was for Coach Darrell Royal, who was a class-act.”

During Arkansas’ postgame celebration, Royal entered the opposing locker room. Before even addressing his own team, the Texas coach had a message for the Razorbacks.

“He said, ‘Guys, y’all beat the number one team in the country and the defending national champions. We want you to win the rest of your games because we want to keep the national championship in the Southwest Conference,’” Marshall recalled.

Added Hatfield of Royal’s speech, “He said, ‘I want you to know you beat a great Texas team today. This isn’t a good team, this is a great team. I want you to know we will not lose another game the rest of the season and if you slip up, we’ll be there to pick up the championship.’”

Arkansas returned home that night to find Fayetteville’s Drake Field overflowing with well-wishers. More than 10,000 people greeted the team among its return.

“We couldn’t get to the gate because of all the fans that had met us at the airport,” Marshall said. “They were out on the runway. They opened the doors to the plane and we kind of had to jump onto the crowd.”

While the win over the Longhorns turned some heads, it would take a while longer for the Razorbacks to make it to the pinnacle of college football. Doing so would require a near perfect effort for Arkansas the rest of the season, which is what it delivered.

“There were several great teams that year,” Hatfield said. “Texas was number one but we didn’t move up to number one after we beat them. We knew we would have a hard time making it all the way to the top of the list.”

It wouldn’t take Arkansas long to move to No. 2, but the final spot would elude the Razorbacks until the final game of the season.

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