MIddle Of The Second

FAYETTEVILLE -- Springdale native Charlie Fiss, who attended the Texas-Arkansas game on Saturday night as a representative of the SBC Cotton Bowl, agreed that the Hogs and 'Horns will still meet in a bowl game every five years or so.

But if Saturday's matchup between the two proud teams was the last for awhile, I wanted to soak in every bit of it.

That included attending Saturday's two-and-a-half-hour luncheon for members of the 1969 Arkansas and Texas teams at the Fayetteville Town Center, the second phase of a two-day gathering that evolved into a remarkably emotional and fulfilling time for both sides.

Terry Frei, author of "Horns, Hogs and Nixon Coming," expressed the shared feeling well.

"Thirty-five years' passage of time can't eliminate the bonding and camaraderie between teammates, fans, families, friends that sports can create," Frei said. "Everything I've learned from my two days here has reinforced my faith in sports. You can hear the bonds. The years just disappear and it's 1969 all over again."

James "Slick" Street, the Texas quarterback in '69, took us right back to his sideline conversation with coaches before his fateful fourth-and-three completion to tight end Randy Peschel that broke the Hogs' hearts.

"Emory Bellard, our offensive coordinator upstairs, and I wanted to run the counter option to the short side," Street recalled. "Out of nowhere, coach (Darrell) Royal took off his headset and said, ‘Right 53 veer pass.' Mike Campbell, our defensive coordinator, heard that and said, ‘Defense, get ready.' I don't know if he was questioning the call or my passing ability, or both."

Somehow, Street's pass was perfect and Texas soon led 15-14.

Tom Campbell, Mike's son and an outside linebacker for the '69 Horns, recalled what happened next.

"With about a minute to go, Arkansas was driving back in our territory, and Bill Montgomery threw a pass for John Rees that would have given them a first down," Campbell said. "I was in the wrong position at the right time. I got a good break on the ball and intercepted it. Bill would never have thrown the ball if he'd seen me. It was just a miracle I was where I was."

Campbell's daughter, Bethany, played soccer for Arkansas in 1999-2000, and Fiss recalled, "At a Razorback Club meeting in Dallas, they made Tom call the Hogs."

Coach Mike Campbell is deceased, as is his fellow World War II veteran and 1969 UT assistant Willie Zapalac. Texas players from that team who have died include Freddie Steinmark, Danny Lester, Rob Layne, Leo Brooks and Travis Roach. Bill Burnett's roommate on the Arkansas team, Lendel Thomas of Harrison, also has died.

David Arledge, a 169-pound defensive end for Texas on Dec. 6, 1969, told in public Saturday for the first time the inspiring story of his son who was diagnosed with brain cancer 11 years ago but is now a healthy freshman at Kansas.

"I did not know the Lord 11 years ago, but I prayed every day for two years. He is out there, He is listening and you can find Him," Arledge said.

Gordon McNulty of the 1969 Hogs spoke next about a series of family tragedies that had beset him, including the shooting death of his son David and the passing of his wife of 32 years, Linda Beth.

"My wife had cancer and was given six months to live, but she fought well and lived 26 more months," McNulty said. "She called her last years the best of her life. She got perspective. It's about eternal life, about knowing the One who can give us the prize. She had the joy of telling people about that."

Before, during and after Saturday's game, UT and UA fans seemed to commingle well, for the most part -- even on a rather subdued Dickson Street in the wee hours.

GRANT HALL IS A MORNING NEWS SPORTS WRITER. HIS COLUMN APPEARS EACH MONDAY. E-MAIL: GHALL@NWAONLINE.NET

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