New York Times

August 9, 1974

By Murray Chass

Butterfingered Stars Come Through

Instead of writing a game plan this week, Babe Parilli should write a book. He could title it "Six Crises."

As Parilli pondered the New York Stars' latest victory yesterday, he knew they won because Tom Sherman threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Bert Askson midway in the fourth quarter.

However, the coach also knew if it hadn't been for six crucial defensive plays, the Stars very likely would have returned from Anaheim, California, yesterday with their third World Football League loss instead of their third straight victory, an 11-8 decision over the Southern California Sun Wednesday night.

The Stars' defense - a collection of three National Football League veterans and rookies from colleges large and small was forced to face the last six crises because the offense had put excruciating pressure on it by losing the ball four times on fumbles and once on an interception.

That the defensive unit did its job was attested to by the fact that the Sun scored only once - on Tony Adams's 32-yard touchdown pass to Ike Harris on the second play of the game.

Of the six crisis situations the defense faced, two were met in the first half by interceptions and four were resolved in the second half by a pass knockdown and three quarterback sacks.

In the first half, Jeff Woodcock, a rookie safety, picked off an Adams pass from the New York 11-yard line in the end zone and Tom Chandler, rookie linebacker, stole an Adams aerial at the New York 25. Four plays after the Chandler interception, Moses Lajterman kicked a 32-yard field goal on the last play of the half for the Stars' first score.

Early in the third quarter, the Sun had a third-and-seven situation at the Stars' 14, but when Adams dropped back to pass, Lloyd Voss, an experienced tackle, dumped him for a 9-yard loss. The Californians were forced to have Nick Dzepina try a 41-yard field goal and he missed.

Late in the quarter, Adams was on target with a 12-yard pass to Dave Williams in the end zone, But Larry Shears, rookie cornerback, leaped, reached over Williams' left shoulder and knocked the ball away.

After the Stars jumped ahead, 11-8, the Sun had two chances to rally. But on fourth-and-3 at the Stars'36, Adams was sacked by Chandler for a 9-yard loss and later, on third-and-11 at the Sun 30, Adams was dumped by James Sims, the Stars' rookie linebacker, for a 13-yard loss. The Sun was forced to punt and the Stars had the game.

There was a seventh crisis in the game, but the Sun failed to meet it. That occurred on the winning offensive play, the touchdown pass to Askson.

"That was the first time all season we passed off that formation," Parilli explained. "We faked a run off tackle out of the Power I and threw the ball. We lined up, we hoped they would play the off tackle and they did. It was a gamble, and it worked."

In the third-and-2 situation, Parilli removed his two wide receivers and sent in a second tight end, Askson, and a third running back, Andy Huff. Huff and Ed White, another running back, started out as if to block on a running play and Sherman faked the handoff to Bob Gladieux.

Askson, meanwhile faked a block and cut down the middle. The free safety went for the fake and Askson ran by him and caught the ball alone at the 10-yard line.

"What really made the play work," said Askson, a former NFL defensive end, "was that the linebacker tripped me when I came off the line and the safety thought it was a run and came up. I lost the ball for a split second but I picked it up again. When I saw it, the only thing in my mind was not to drop it.

Askson not only caught it, but he also kept it and plans to send it to his mother in Dallas. He also received one of two game balls - Sims got the other - and will send it to his cousin in Houston.