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Memphis 3 at Houston 37
1984 Week 18 - Monday, June 25, 1984
Memphis Showboats(7-10) at Houston Gamblers(12-5)(-13.5)
Attendance: 22,963, TV: ESPN
HOUSTON (UPl) - Though they routed the Memphis Showboats Monday night, the Houston Gamblers made the game sound like mere field maneuvers for their upcoming U S Football League playoff meeting against Arizona.
The 37-3 decision was the seventh consecutive victory for the Gamblers, which became the first pro football team ever to score over 600 points in a season and to have two receivers - Richard Johnson and Ricky Sanders -- with more than 100 receptions each.
However, the big news in the Gamblers' locker room was Sunday's playoff.
"I'm proud of this team tonight " said Gamblers coach Jack Pardee "There was nothing at stake for them except to get tuned up for the playoffs, and they responded with their best overall game of the season."
The unheralded Gambler defense forced five Showboat turnovers and did not allow Memphis 100 yards in total offense until midway through the fourth quarter. Gambler quarterback Jim Kelly completed seven of 12 for 111 yards and one touchdown, raising his season totals to 370 completions in 587 attempts for 5,219 yards and 44 touchdowns.
"We are not in awe of Arizona, but we certainly have respect for them." Pardee said. "There'll be a special air at practice this week. We'll be ready for Arizona next Sunday."
The Gamblers exploded for 17 first quarter points. A one-yard plunge by Todd Fowler kept a six-play 66-yard drive on the Gamblers' first possession.
Mike Dunn recovered a fumble by Memphis' Derrick Crawford at the Showboats' 21 and Kelly drilled Scott McGhee with a touchdown pass on the next play to give the Gamblers a 14-0 lead.
Houston drove to the Memphis 1 following a Hollis Hall interception, but two Fowler dives netted no yardage and Tony Fritsch came on to boot a 17-yard field goal.
Gambler cornerback Will Lewis intercepted a Ken Johnson pass and returned the ball nine yards to the Memphis 31.
Reserve quarterback Todd Dillon directed the Gamblers to the end zone in seven plays with Fowler barreling in from the two yard line to give Houston a 24-0 lead at the half.
Early in the third quarter, Memphis' Rick Partridge was forced to punt from his own endzone.
"We were tired." said Memphis coach Pepper Rodgers. "We played real hard last week against Birmingham. It was an emotional game, and we didn't seem to have anything left tonight."
Gerald McNeil fielded the ball at the Showboat's 43, sprinted for the sideline and dragged two tacklers into the end zone to give the Gamblers a 31-0 lead.
Fritsch added field goals cf 37 and 29 yards to up Houston's score to 37-0.
He finished the game with 130 points for the season to win the league scoring championship. Memphis avoided a shutout with two seconds remaining in the game on a 28-yard field goal by Alan Duncan.
The Showboats finished the season at 7-11. The Gamblers are 13-5, and host Arizona Sunday.
"Coming into the game tonight, I didn't think Houston would do well in
the playoffs." said Rodgers. "I'm impressed. I think they'll be very
tough to beat."
Supplemental information courtesy of Chris Blackburn