B Bucs come from behind to win
You'd think that if a team knew it might be playing its only game, ever, a 17-point disaster in the first quarter would be demoralizing. But the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' B Team had a good chance to collect its thoughts after falling behind Sunday in the Silverdome. It couldn't have had a better chance in a library. ``The crowd was a big advantage to us, because it wasn't there,`` defensive end James Ramey said after the non-union B Bucs rallied to beat the non-union B Detroit Lions 31-27. ``If they had a big crowd they could have mentally defeated our players.``
What they had was a group of 4,919 spectators who entertained themselves on a couple of occasions with comical wave cheers. About 20,000 people got refunds for their tickets earlier in the week, and 74 percent of those who kept their tickets still didn't come to the game. There were 13,941 no-shows. Those who came saw a close, hard-hitting game with several memorable plays. They also saw:
Each team turn the ball over on its own 3-yard line after dropped punt snaps.
A Detroit offensive line that looked like a wall being hit by a bulldozer almost every time quarterback Todd Hons dropped back to pass. Hons was sacked five times by five different players, and the wall fell on him just after he released the ball on many occasions.
Sixteen punts, including 10 by the B Bucs, who had only 219 yards of total offense. That means they scored one point for every 7.1 yards they gained.
Nine fumbles, though seven of them were retrieved by the offensive team.
A 61-yard B Bucs touchdown pass, from Mike Hold to Eric Streater, that looked like it was drawn on a chalkboard with no defensive players. ``The coaches had been telling us that when we ran that play it was going to be wide open,`` said Hold. ``You always think the coaches are going to play it up a little bit.`` But when Streater caught the ball on the Detroit 26, there were no defenders within 5 yards of him, and none between him and the goal line.
That cut Detroit's lead to 24-21 with 1:32 left in the half, and just 19 seconds after the B Lions had scored on a 53-yard pass from Hons to former Tampa Bay Bandit Eric Truvillion. Truvillion caught four passes for 99 yards, and outwrestled B Bucs cornerback Kevin Walker for the ball on his touchdown. ``I can't believe that he didn't make Detroit's football team to start with,`` said Bucs (A and B) head coach Ray Perkins.
After Streater's easy score, the B Bucs' defense took over. Detroit gained only 84 yards in the second half and penetrated deeper than the Tampa Bay 48 only once, when a 35-yard field goal by Mike Prindle cut the B Bucs' lead to the final four-point margin. The combined record of the striking and non-union Bucs squads is now 2-1. Somebody will play against some version of the San Diego Chargers at Tampa Stadium next Sunday. There have been reports the strike may be almost over, but Bucs owner Hugh Culverhouse said Sunday he doesn't believe that. ``I'm happy that these guys could come out on top in what's a dream game for them,`` Perkins said. ``Whether we'll play a game with these guys next week, or not, I don't know.``
At first, it didn't look like a dream. Detroit scored on its first series when Hons, who was a car salesman two weeks ago, threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to erstwhile construction worker Darrell Grymes. Tampa Bay cornerback Ivory Curry, who kept the drive alive by committing a holding penalty when the B Lions were trying to punt, had good coverage on Grymes but lost a fight for the ball in the end zone.
It was 10-0 after the B Bucs' next series, when punter Ray Criswell fumbled a low snap and turned the ball over on the 3. That started a series of weird plays. Hons missed a wide-open Truvillion in the end zone on first down, and fumbled when he was sacked by B Bucs inside linebacker Fred McCallister on second down. But the ball eluded two other B Bucs to reach the sideline and Detroit kept possession to kick a field goal.
Two plays later, starting B Bucs quarterback John Reaves was sacked by outside linebacker Carl Carr and fumbled. Another outside linebacker, Angelo King, recovered and ran 9 yards for the touchdown that made it 17-0. Reaves, playing his first game in 27 months, was 2-of-8 for 16 yards.
But the B Bucs got back into the game - with Hold, who played the second and fourth quarters, at quarterback - on another odd-looking touchdown on the second play of the second quarter. On third-and-10 at the B Lions 15, 230-pound fullback Adrian Wright caught a short pass from Hold in the right flat. Detroit's 184-pound free safety, Alvin Hall, ran into Wright and fell down as if he'd run into a tree. Then Wright sauntered into the end zone.
About three minutes later, the B Bucs cut the lead to three points when free safety Paul Tripoli stepped in front of Grymes and intercepted a Hons pass on the Detroit 15. Tripoli almost could have crawled into the end zone. ``We were in a coverage that the quarterback obviously didn't read,`` said Tripoli, who had a monstrous game - two interceptions, one fumble recovery, seven tackles, one assist, and one pass defensed.
Tripoli's second interception set up a 21-yard Van Tiffin field goal that tied the game with 8:03 left in the third quarter. The B Bucs took over on the Detroit 29, and Wright carried six times for 30 yards on the series, but a couple of penalties caused the B Bucs to back up. The winning touchdown was set up when B Lions punter Mike Black dropped a snap and turned the ball over on his own 3. Harold Ricks, a Tampa native who went to Plant High School, carried twice from there to score with 2:17 left in the third quarter.
The St.Petersburg Times 4 October 1987