Corker, Panthers Sack Lifeless Generals


Staff Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD -- Success bounced away from the New Jersey Generals yesterday and was stepped on by a blitzing linebacker named John Corker.

     Corker, a 6-6, 235-pounder out of Oklahoma State, contributed six of the Michigan Panthers’ eight sacks of General quarterback Bobby Scott as New Jersey suffered its fifth defeat in six outings, 21-6.

     It was the kind of game you would expect from a new team playing in monsoon-like rains — a lot of dropped passes, fumbles, poor special teams play, all witnessed by 17,648 wet fans at Giants Stadium.

     “We mishandled a few balls,” said coach Chuck Fairbanks.  “Bobby played well but the rest of the ball club could have helped him out more.”

     The most notable miscue came in the fourth quarter, when Scott fired a bullet into the Panther end zone that bounced off the hands of receiver Sam Bowers and was intercepted by linebacker Robert Pennywell, formerly of the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL.  Such plays continually spoiled some otherwise competent football by the Generals.

     Herschel Walker, the Georgia-bred drawing card of the United States Football League, turned in his second solid game in a row, gaining 133 yards on 26 carries.

     “The field was not that bad, but it wasn’t good either,” said Walker, whose longest gain was 17 yards, closing the first quarter.  “I was running with shorter strides, trying not to slip.”

     Walker was about the only weapon deployed by the Generals in the first half, when rains were heaviest.  He carried the ball 13 times in the first quarter alone, moving the ball well with slashing runs.  By half-time, he had collected 103 yards on 20 carries.

     But his team could not mount a scoring drive, and the half ended 0-0.

     The game came alive midway through the third quarter, as Panther cornerback Clarence Chapman blocked a Dave Jacobs punt in the General end zone.  Ira Albright fell on the ball for a touchdown to give the Panthers a 7-0 led at the 5:41 mark of the period.

     The Generals came marching back and moved the ball down to the Panther 34-yard line with runs by Scott and Walker.

     Then Scott lofted a long sideline pass to Tom McConnaughney, who bobbled the ball a couple of times before splashing down in a puddle at the three-yard line.

     Two plays later, fullback Dwight Sullivan scored on a one-yard plunge.  The ensuing extra-point try failed when the snap was fumbled, leaving the Generals on the short end of a 7-6 contest.

     On the next possession, the Panthers made the score 14-6 as quarterback Bobby Herbert and receiver Derek Holloway combined on a 25-yard post pattern.

     In a comeback bid, the Generals started their best drive in the fourth quarter.  Scott, who lost 37 yards via the day’s sacks, shook free from a fierce pass rush and found McConnaughney, who made a diving catch 35 yards downfield.

     On the next play, Scott found the former Central Arkansas wide receiver over the middle for 14 yards.

     Two more completions moved the ball to the Panther six, before the drive ended with Pennywell’s interception.

     Further rallies were thwarted with the help of Corker, who had two unassisted sacks late in the game and assisted on a third.  He also recovered one of the Generals’ six fumbles.

     The Panthers added a third touchdown after the Generals failed on a fourth-and-long try deep in their own territory.

     Scott’s final statistics were 220 yards on 16 completions and 31 attempts.

     Herbert passed for 122 yards on 12 completions and 26 attempts.

     With the win, the Panthers upped their record to 2-4.  The Generals — the league’s losingest team with the weakest offensive punch and the brightest offensive backfield star — fell to 1-5.

Ocean County Obsever, Toms River, NJ, 04/11/83