The 1978 NCAA Division I-AA Football Championship Game was a postseason college football game between the Florida A&M Rattlers and the UMass Minutemen. The game was played on December 16, 1978, at Memorial Stadium in Wichita Falls, Texas. The culminating game of the 1978 NCAA Division I-AA football season, it was won by Florida A&M, 35–28.
This was the first season of I-AA play, and the first championship game for the newly formed division. The game was also known as the Pioneer Bowl, a name that had been used starting in 1971 for various NCAA playoff games held in Wichita Falls.
Florida A&M RattlersEdit
In 1978, Florida A&M was a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC), a Division II conference. The university had successfully petitioned the NCAA for Division I classification (Division I-AA in football), which took effect on September 1, 1978.
Florida A&M finished their regular season with a 9–1 record; their only loss was to Tennessee State. Ranked third in the final AP Poll for I-AA, and then having defeated Grambling State in the Orange Blossom Classic played on December 2, the Rattlers were the at-large selection to the four-team playoff. They defeated Jackson State, the South selection, by a score of 15–10 to reach the final.
UMass finished their regular season with an 8–3 record (5–0 in conference)—all of their losses were to Division I-A programs; Villanova, Harvard, and Rutgers. Tied with Western Kentucky for fourth in the final AP Poll for I-AA, the Minutemen were the East selection to the playoff. They defeated Nevada, the West selection, by a 44–21 score to reach the final.
The game was played in a strong wind, estimated at 20–25 miles per hour (32–40 km/h). It was a factor, especially with Florida A&M, as Sammy Knight punted six times for only 45 total yards; he also had two punts blocked. UMass led early, going ahead 6–0 on two field goals. Florida A&M held a 14–6 lead at halftime, but trailed twice in the second half, as UMass had leads of 15–14 and 22–21. Two fourth quarter touchdowns by fullback Mike Solomon then provided Florida A&M with the winning margin. Florida A&M won without completing a pass from scrimmage, as quarterback Albert Chester went 0-for-7 with two interceptions; he did successfully pass for a two-point conversion, and ran for two touchdowns.
- ↑ "UMass Toppled in Bowl, 35‐28". The New York Times. AP. December 17, 1978. https://www.nytimes.com/1978/12/17/archives/umass-toppled-in-bowl-3528-angelo-state-34-elon-14.html. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
- ↑ Climer, David (July 22, 1978). "I-AA Finals Set At Pioneer Bowl". The Tennessean (Nashville, Tennessee): p. 20. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/28224327/iaa_finals_set_at_pioneer_bowl/. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
- ↑ Cooper, Barry (August 31, 1978). "Florida A&M granted Divison 1 status". Tallahassee Democrat (Tallahassee, Florida): p. 1B. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/31514902/florida_am_granted_divison_1_status/. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
- ↑ "Florida A&M Rattlers 1978 Schedule". http://cfbinfo.com/team/florida-am-rattlers/1978. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 "Reno gets playoff berth". Billings, Montana. November 21, 1978. p. 1-B. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/31516364/reno_gets_playoff_berth/. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
- ↑ "Massachusetts Minutemen 1978 Schedule". http://cfbinfo.com/team/massachusetts-minutemen/1978. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 Cooper, Barry (December 17, 1978). "FAMU (cont'd)". Tallahassee Democrat (Tallahassee, Florida): p. 7A. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/31547114/famu_contd/. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 "A&M figures". Tallahassee Democrat (Tallahassee, Florida): p. 5D. December 17, 1978. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/31516987/am_figures/. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
- ↑ Homer, Jody (May 12, 1985). "Cards` Rookie Looks Like a Steal". Chicago Tribune. https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1985-05-12-8501290837-story.html. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Schmitz, Brian (December 17, 1978). "FAMU Rattlers Strike Back For I-AA Championship". Fort Lauderdale News (Fort Lauderdale, Florida): p. 10C. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/31516834/famu_rattlers_strike_back_for_iaa/. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
- ↑ Cite error: Invalid
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- ↑ Cooper, Barry (December 17, 1978). "FAMU captures a national title". Tallahassee Democrat (Tallahassee, Florida): p. 1A. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/31547045/famu_captures_a_national_title/. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
- ↑ Schmitz, Brian (December 17, 1978). "FAMU Wins It All, 35-28". Fort Lauderdale News (Fort Lauderdale, Florida): p. 1C. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/31516882/famu_wins_it_all_3528/. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
- Sharrock, Rory (June 22, 2018). "Rattler Redux: FAMU documentary celebrates 1978 championship". https://www.tallahassee.com/story/sports/college/famu/2018/06/22/famu-documentary-celebrates-1978-championship/723104002/. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
- Sharrock, Rory (September 16, 2018). "FAMU's 1978 national title: The first and last of its kind". https://www.tallahassee.com/story/sports/college/famu/2018/09/16/rattlers-title-season-never-repeated/1318544002/. Retrieved May 12, 2019.