Penn State

Ted Kwalick
(Authentic Reproduction)





A two-time All American in 1967 and 1968 who contributed to Paterno's early success as a head coach, Ted Kwalick came to the Penn State campus from McKees Rock, PA with great promise and then lived up to it. The 6'2", 220 pound tight end was a leader on the 1967 team that went 8-2-1 and the great undefeated 11-0 team of '68. Catching passes from QB Tom Sherman and in then from Chuck Burkhart in '68, Kwalick's totals in his two big seasons were 38 receptions for 568 yards and four TD's in '67 and 31 catches for 403 yards and two TE's in '68. He blocked like a demon and finished his career with a total of 86 receptions for 1343 tough yards and 10 touchdowns. Bigger than his numbers was his leadership ability and steady game-to-game play that resulted in his fourth place finish in the 1968 Heisman Trophy voting. A first round draft choice of the Forty-Niners, Kwalick made three Pro Bowls and was inducted into the National Football Foundation College Football Hall Of Fame in 1989. He glamorized the tight end position for collegiate players and remains Penn State's best at that position.
Penn State vs. opponents, 11-0; Paterno vs. President Richard Nixon, 0-1. The incredible 11-0 season of 1968 was followed by yet another 11-0 season in 1969. Twenty-nine straight victories and their unbeaten record should have been enough to receive top rank consideration but Nixon had attended the Texas vs. Arkansas game and declared Texas, the victor, as the nation's best team. Coach Paterno and the Penn State contingent among many others made a strong case to the contrary as the Lions presented one of the best defenses in the history of collegiate football. Reid and Smear were the tackles, Ebersole was at one end, Ham and Onkotz the outstanding linebackers, and Neal Smith and Paul Johnson as defensive backs. The unit scored 107 of Penn State's 312 point total and gave up but 87 points. The overshadowed offense still boasted HB's Charlie Pittman, future Penn State offensive coordinator Fran Ganter, and newcomer Lydell Mitchell. The fullbacks were steady Don Abbey and soph Franco Harris of Mt. Holly, N.J..     
All could effectively catch Burkhart's passes and other than a scare in the 15-14 fourth quarter win over Syracuse, the games weren't close. Closing the season with a 10-3 Orange Bowl win over a top Missouri team, Penn State was in the eyes of many, as deserving as Texas for the honor of "Number One." Losing their thirty-one game winning streak in the second game of the 1970 season and three out of four early season games was not the Paterno/Penn State way but sophomore QB John Hufnagel picked things up to the tune of five consecutive wins and a 7-3 finish. The "reloading" rather than rebuilding now was typical for the PSU program with Burkhart and Pittman leaving the backfield but a seasoned Franco Harris and Lydell Mitchell stepping in with young Hufnagel. Mike Reid, Steve Smear, and Dennis Onkotz moved on to the pro ranks but Jack Ham, Gary Gray, John Skorupan, and Bruce Bannon became the bulwarks on the defensive unit. Center Warren Koegel still anchored the line in preparation for his years with the Raiders, and was joined by the All-East play of guard Bob Holuba. Much of the offensive line was gone for '71 but QB John Hufnagel benefited from a fine soph season and still had both Franco Harris (the fastest man on the team despite weighing 230 pounds) and Lydell Mitchell in his backfield. Newcomers Tom Donchez and John Cappelletti  proved to be capable backups with Cappelletti actually starting on defense at times during the season. The season was a dandy too as the Lions bested everyone except Tennessee in the year's finale and then beat a good Texas team decisively in the Cotton Bowl, 30-6. The team's 454 points was a new school record and Mitchell drew rave reviews and comparisons to Lenny Moore before plying his wares for the Colts, Rams, and Chargers. Harris, somewhat overshadowed by his backfield mate, still gained 684 yards and would have been the spotlight star anywhere else. Franco of course, later had a Hall Of Fame career with the Super Bowl glutted Steelers.

Adding three-inch thick-style navy blue numerals to the sides of the helmet dressed up the uniforms a bit in this significant season. The jump to 8-2 was fueled by young, aggressive players including ten sophomores who cracked the starting lineup and who pushed the upperclassmen ahead of them. The names on the Penn State roster would now appear in the pro ranks in significant numbers and on a yearly basis. Tom Sherman ran the show at QB and after two years in the NFL later reappeared with the N.Y. Stars of the WFL and his target was often junior All American Ted Kwalick, now a 220 pound TE with the agility of a running back. Jack Curry came back for another solid season opposite Kwalick. The sophomore running backs  Charlie Pittman, who stepped in as the leading rusher had pounding Don Abbey a do-it-all FB in front of him. Reserve QB Frank Spaziani was moved to defensive end and later in his career safety, moves which gave him the experience to eventually become the head coach at Long Island's Hempstead H.S. and he current defensive coordinator at Boston College. Rich Buzin and Bill Lenkaitis were solid in prepping for their eventual NFL careers. The defense had an influx of Super-Sophs with Dennis Onkotz following Ralph Baker as the pipeline to the pros for Penn State linebackers. Onkotz was in on the game-saving tackle that preserved the 13-8 win over Number Three ranked North Carolina State (QB'ed by future Marshall and Georgia head coach Jim Donnan) that brought more national attention and a Gator Bowl bid to Penn State. The defense also featured soph starters Steve Smear, John Ebersole, and Mike Reid, all of whom had the NFL in their future. The shaven-headed Lions closed out the season with a 17-17 tie in the Gator Bowl against a loaded Ron Sellers-led Florida State team and Paterno knew he could tweak his young talent and take them even further. As the '67 soph class matured, Paterno had the makings of a dynasty and his juggernaut stoned all ten opponents before playing in one of the most exciting Orange Bowl games ever. Onkotz, Reid, and Pittman played at All American level and TE Ted Kwalick, later to take his wares to the 49ers, was everyone's All American. Steve Smear at DT lived up to his name, teaming with future Jet John Ebersole and Mike Reid to lead an awesome defense. Between them, Reid and Smear had 108 tackles, 62 assists, four recovered fumbles, and two blocked kicks. The constant pass rush helped shutdown defensive backs Pete Johnson and Neal Smith to numerous interceptions. A growing talent opposite Onkotz was outside linebacker Jack Ham. Center Warren Koegel from Seaford (LI) H.S. and Chuck Burkhart provided offensive stability and leadership with Bob Campbell again the all around back who augmented the brilliance of Pittman. The Lions first 10-0 season was followed by a heart-stopping Orange Bowl contest against a Kansas team featuring John Riggins, Bobby Douglas, and Don Shanklin. The tense, hard-fought game was 7-7 at the half, and with less than two minutes to play, 14-7 Kansas. With 1:20 remaining, the Lions blocked a punt with a ten man charge and then drove to the Jayhawk three where a Burkhart rollout made the score 14-13. Electing to go for the win, Burkhart's pass was deflected by a group of jubilant defenders but flags were down indicating that Kansas had twelve men on the field. Films later showed that Kansas had twelve men on the field for the final eighty seconds of the tense finish! Linebacker Rick Abernethy never left the field when his sub came in. Now facing eleven men, Campbell swept to his left for the 15-14 victory that left Penn State ranked number two in the nation with an undefeated and untied 11-0 season.

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