On this Date: Houston Sinks Navy in the Garden State Bowl

On this date in 1980 everyone needed an extra layer.

The Houston Cougars arrived in the SWC in 1976 and promptly won three of the next four conference titles. In 1980 they came back to the field a bit with a 6-5 season that included losses to eventual conference champion Baylor, Texas, and, inexplicably, Rice in the season finale by 28 bleeping points.

The Coogs received an invite to the third annual Garden State Bowl way up in East Rutherford, New Jersey. They took on an 8-3 Navy team, led by the great George Welsh. Bill Yeoman assured the Houston faithful that regardless of who the opponent was, the Coogs wouldn’t play anywhere near as poorly as they had against Rice a few weeks before.

Terald Clark ducks under a Navy defender.

Yeoman was right; his Cougars drummed the Midshipmen in frigid New Jersey, 35-0. Houston ran for 405 rushing yards, with Terald Clark, a senior from Galena Park, pacing the way with 163. The well-bundled fans watched the Cougars jump out to a 28 point first-half lead thanks to runs by Clark and quarterback Terry Elston. Clark added two more touchdowns to complete the blow-out.

Temperatures dipped into the 30s, and a little snow fell, but Houston’s defense didn’t care. Kelly McDonald recovered a Navy fumble on the games first play, and the Cougars blocked a punt on Navy’s second possession. Houston’s defense held the Mids vaunted running game to less than 170 yards.

The real story according to the New York media was the 19,000 no-shows in spite of the announced crowd of 41,417. The bowl itself lasted just one more year before organizers had enough no-shows and shut it down.

The Roundup…