July 26, 1974
By Mike Weber
PHILADELPHIA - Three days ago, Moses Lajterman was a yogurt salesman. This morning he is a hero.
Such are the fortunes of pro-football, WFL style.
Lajterman, who signed a one-game contract with the Stars yesterday, kicked a 40-yard field goal last night with 11:48 left in the game to give New York an incredible 17-15 victory over the Philadelphia Bell.
But that unlikely tale did not end the script which was written for this drama. A WFL record crowd of 64,719 at JFK Stadium saw the Bell miss two chances for a winning field goal, both in the final 2:18.
"I never thought they'd miss two like that," said exhausted Stars' coach Babe Parilli.
"I was hoping my kick would be the winner," said Lajterman who only last year was a kicker for Clary Anderson's Montclair State team.
The Bell did miss, first Jack Simcsak on a 36-yarder with 2:18 to go, then George Chatlos on a 26-yarder with a second showing.
The victory gave the Stars a 1-2 record and dropped the Bell to 1-2. What it drained from each emotionally will not be known for some time.
Lajterman was contacted by Parilli Monday night when regular placekicker Pete Rajecki had not recovered from bruised ribs sustained last week against Birmingham.
"I asked my boss for a leave of absence," said Lajterman. "He told me it was either (the company) or pro football. Heck, there was no choice. I've wanted a shot at pro ball all my life."
And he made his first shot a winning one by the narrowest of margins.
Lajterman's kick climaxed a 12-play, 80-yard drive which spanned the final period. Lajterman would try a kick at a distance from which he had missed regularly in pre-game warm-ups. Nonetheless, he was confident.
"I kicked a 47-yarder in college," he said. "But I never had a chance to win a game. This was really something. The crowd didn't bother me - in fact, it made the adrenalin start pumping."
The center snap was poor, but Lajterman managed to kick the ball clean. It was online but its distance was in doubt until it dropped over the bar with only a yard to spare.
"I didn't care how long it was," said Lajterman. "Just so it was long enough.
The Stars had battled from behind through most of the game, starting late in the first period.
Philly quarterback King Corcoran engineered an 89 yard, five play drive, begun when Bill Craven intercepted a Tom Sherman pass. Corcoran kept the drive alive by connecting with Don Shanklin on a 52-yard pass play which moved the ball to the 27. Two plays later, his play-action pass found Claude Watts all alone for a 16-yard score.
The Stars contributed to the Bell's successful action point, going offsides three straight times before Corcoran carried across from the half-yard line.
The Stars came back when the ball began bouncing their way...literally.
Free safety Lou Angelo intercepted the first of two passes to set up the Stars on their own 15. Shortly after, Sherman hit Al Young with a 29-yard pass, then aimed for Dave Richards down the right sidelines, Philly safety Ed Hayes deflected the ball but Richards caught it on the rebound and carried to the one.
Richards carried over two plays later, the Stars missed the action point and trailed, 8-7. That was taken care of quickly.
Lajterman unintentionally kicked off short, the ball coming down on the Bell's 39, where Alan Thompson fumbled and Larry Shears recovered for New York.
The Stars moved into the end zone in eight plays although George Sauer's apparent 16-yard TD catch was nullified when Matt Herkenhoff went offside. No matter. Sherman threw 20 yards to Young on the next play and Bob Gladieux later punched in from the one.
Philly went back on top in the third quarter, Corcoran completing a 52-yard drive in six plays. Faced with a third-and-four from the 29, he avoided a hard rush and connected with Shanklin on the 10. The next play was for the score, LeVell Hill on the receiving end.
Lajterman kicked his field goal early in the final period and later the real drama began. From their 45, the Bell marched, giving Simcsak, from Highland Park, N.J., his shot. It missed, wide right.
The Stars failed to run out the clock, punting the ball away with 52 seconds left.
Corcoran passes to Hill for 10 yards...to Shanklin for 16...to Linzy Cole for 21, Seven seconds left...the clock running as Cole is brought down, inbounds, at the seven.
Inexplicably the clock is stopped with four seconds remaining...Corcoran throws out of bounds to stop the clock again for a field goal try. The Stars are offsides...the ball is moved up...placed...kicked by Chatlos...missed.
And the hero is Moses Lajterman, who earlier this year failed in a tryout with the Bell.
"My heart was beating fast," said Lajterman. "I wanted it to miss."
It had to miss. After all, how often do yogurt salesmen get to be football heroes?