Birmingham Post-Herald

July 18, 1974

By John Cargile

Gave team a 'ripping' talk, says a happy Gotta

New York - George "Matador" Mira gave wide receiver Dennis Homan a super handshake on the sidelines following the 73-yard bomb that gave the Birmingham Americans the deciding points to defeat the New York Stars, 32-29, in one of the most exciting games of the young World Football League this season.

"I tell you that was super," the Matador said following the game. "Dennis ran inside to fake a block on their end then sprinted deep and got behind the defensive man and I knew all I had to do was get it high and out there and let him run under it."

The Americans, showing they are a super caliber, never-let-die team, put 29 second half points on the board to collapse the Stars intentions of running away with the game.

The Stars, directed by Tom Sherman, scored 29 first half points but the Americans' defense rose to the occasion in the second half to shut them out.

"I gave the team a ripping talk in our pre-game activities," related Coach Gotta. "Apparently I didn't get anything across. I gave another ripping talk at halftime when we were behind 29-3. I was one screaming daddy in here at halftime," Gotta smiled.

"We had a good offensive plan for the Stars, but in the first half we made so many mistakes that we couldn't get the ball. The defense was grabbing and not tackling, and the offense couldn't get the ball."

"We didn't change anything on offense at halftime. We stuck with our offensive plan and things began to happen in the last half."

Gotta cited the play of Carl Bartles and Art Cantrelle at running backs as sparking the Americans come from behind victory.

"Those two came in and really boosted up our team," Gotta said.

The big play pass from Mira was set up by three power sweeps from Cantrelle and Bartles, according to Gotta.

"The Stars defense was laying back and Mira started to pick them to pieces," Gotta said. "I tell you I liked the way we came back. The defense came through for us on the Stars last series.

Mira and Homan were awarded the game ball, which is voted on by players.

"I tell you it wasn't what I did out there that got our win," said Mira. "it's the rest of this club. They're the ones who deserve the credit.

"We knew when we came back after the first half that we had to open up and throw more passes. The receivers got open more in the last half and I was able to get the ball to them.

"This comeback is the mark of a championship team. You didn't see any players hanging their heads in the dressing room at half. They kept up their enthusiasm even when we were down. I've seen the Miami Dolphins win some games like we won tonight."

Everything went wrong in the first half. A razzle-dazzle play on a reverse attempted pass play backfired when Denny Duran had the ball taken away from him by Stars Gerry Philbin. It set up the Stars second score.

Then it was off to the races by the Stars as they compiled 15 more first half points.

But the Americans turned things around in the second starting with Cecil Leonard's gallop that got the Americans started in the right direction.

And the Americans had their second victory of the young season. Next up is Memphis in Legion Field next Wednesday night.