Order the book, The United States Football League, 1982–1986.
Houston 35 at San Antonio 7
1984 Week 2 - Monday, March 5, 1984
Houston Gamblers(0-1)(-1.5) at San Antonio Gunslingers(0-1)
Attendance: 10,023, TV: ESPN
SAN ANTONIO(AP) - When half the stadium lights flickered, dimmed and went out, Houston Gamblers head coach Jack Pardee got a little worried.
He was even more distracted when his players went to their locker room to wait out the 48-minute power failure and found the door padlocked shut. No problem. They broke in.
But Pardee needn't have worried a bit about the actual game Monday night.
His Gamblers went on to blow out the San Antonio Gunslingers 35-7 in the first regular-season meeting between Texas' two United States Football League expansion teams.
"The delay gave the players time to get warm, but they kept their concentration," Pardee said. "Delay and all, it was a good game."
It was a great game for Houston quarterback Jim Kelly, who scrambled for two touchdowns, passed for another and threw for 315 yards.
"We were playing so well that little could have bothered us," said Kelly, "But it was too cold."
San Antonio, now 0-2, lost some pride because of the lopsided score and the malfunctioning power system, but Gunslingers now must do without something more important - starting quarterback Rick Neuheisel.
Neuheisel apparently broke his left hand early in the third quarter and probably will be sidelined in a cast for two or three weeks.
"He was playing with the pain until we went into the locker room during the power failure," said San Antionio Coach Gil Steinke. "Then it swelled up and hurt too much."
By that time, most of the 10,023 fans has left, chilled by the 47-degree weather and bored by the 48-minute game delay, which came near the end of the third quarter.
Houston, now 1-1, easily ran up a 21-7 halftime lead with the help of Kelly's two short touchdown runs and a 1-yard scoring dive into the end zone by running back Sam Harrell.
San Antonio had taken an early 7-0 lead with 7:07 remaining in the first period when Neuheisel threw a 72-yard touchdown bomb to wide receiver Lonell Phea.
But it wasn't the Gunslingers' night.
Phea's knee was injured during San Antonio's next possession and he was carried from the stadium. He faced surgery today and could be lost for the season.
Houston padded its lead in the third quarter when Harrell celebrated the restoration of the light system by running 5 yards for a touchdown, making it 27-7.
Kelly capped the scoring with a 12-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Greg Moser.
Ironically, the USFL had sent a top official to San Antonio to ensure everything ran smoothly,
Dom Camera, the league's director of marketing, said he was conferring with USFL Commissioner Chet Simmons during the power failure, but that calling the game never was seriously considered.
"It's unfortunate this thing happened with the lights," Pardee said. "I hope this game doesn't carry a stigma because of it."
Steinke and Neuheisel, who completed four of 10 passes for 114 yards, both said the light failure had nothing to do with the Gunslingers' low-power performance.
"We make every mental mistake you could make," Steinke said. "The game just got out of hand."
Supplemental information courtesy of Chris Blackburn