Syracuse 10
Nebraska 9

Nov. 29, 1917

Huskers bow in defeat as Shaw's kick misses goal



Syracuse Wins Fierce-Fought Fray, 10 to 9, as Nebraska’s Captain Fails in Crucial Moment. Stewart Scored by Critics.

Lincoln, Neb., Nov. 29. — Wearing the Cornhusker colors for the last time and with the fate of the game in his care, Captain Edson Shaw this afternoon missed his kick for goal following a touchdown in the last minute of play, and thus permitted Syracuse to win, 10 to 9.

As the ball twisted wide of its mark, after the spectacular rally that had crushed the fiery easterners back of their final chalk-line, Captain Shaw slowly dropped his face into his hands and stood with bent shoulders, overwhelmed with grief.

It was a tragic ending to an honorable and glorious career on the Husker gridiron and there is not a heart in Nebraska, no matter how sore with the loss of this great conflict, but beats in truest sympathy with this Spartan gladiator.

It was a hard kick, from a difficult angle, and it must be remembered that the Crimson and White won a nation-wide reputation three years ago by defeating the Notre Dame in exactly the same manner, when Miller missed goal for the Harperites, and left the score 20 to 19 in Stiehm’s favor.

The fortunes of war turned against Shaw in the last moment, but his tremendous deeds in other games during the past three years far overshadow the unfortunate culmination of today’s conflict.

Results of Poor Judgment

This was the best football game Nebraska has taken part in during the past two years — the period of Dr. Stewart’s coaching. That it was not safely stowed away before Captain Shaw was brought face-to-face with this nerve-straining emergency was the direct result of some sort of mental aberration that held the Huskers from open play, that held McMahon out of the fray, that caused the Lincoln eleven to batter itself to pieces in ridiculously simple formations against an adamant defense, until it was too late.

And then, when it WAS too late — the struggling team started its elementary little double passes, forward flips and trick strategy to find that the York Staters were practically helpless before them!

But, thanks to Stewart, or to Cook — who for some unknown reason has been permitted to mishandle the Huskers most of this season and last — the damage had been done and the stopwatch ended a wonderful battle that should have been a Nebraska victory.

There can be little doubt that Syracuse, with its half-dozen expert coaches, arrayed against Nebraska with its doubtful mentor, met a Tartar that uncorked a most grievous surprise.

It was the indomitable pluck, gameness, capacity for assimilating punishment and individual aggressiveness of the Huskers that made the conquerors of Colgate, Brown, Tufts and other eastern elevens tremble in their socks. Not by any shrewdness of instruction, wealth of trickery, skillfulness of management did the boys from this state’s varsity carry the struggle so far into Syracuse territory and leave the final outcome to the steadiness of one man’s boot.

It was by the undying spirit in the bosoms of these red-sweatered athletes, who made the best of a very bad bargain, that the invaders were made to realize that they had met their superiors, man for man!.

Dobson's Great Kick

It was Dobson, who played a stellar game throughout and who had had by no means enough credit for this season’s victories, who stood on the Syracuse 38-yard line in the last moments of the first periods and booted a drop-kick squarely between the bars. Dobson has no reputation as a kicker of field goals. He tried one against Notre Dame from 45 yards and narrowly missed, so this was his second attempt. It left the score 3 to 0 in favor of his team, as it remained through the entire first half.

The battle was evenly waged through the first two periods, if you please, although Nebraska’s two plays through the tackles were so incessantly used that a prep-schoolboy could have prepared to meet them — but it was in the third period that Syracuse, realizing the simplicity of the Husker offense, and the stuttering inefficiency of its generalship, went out to get the bacon and bring it home.

Meehan and Schwarzer engineered a forward pass for 15 yards after M. Brown, Barsha and Steele had carved their initials in the Nebraska line for large gains, and when the Huskers had gamely held within 15 yards of their goal, Meehan passed to Brown for a touchdown which certainly was earned. Meehan kicked goal.

After the kickoff and a number of preliminary skirmishes, the ironhearted Mr. Steele, who had gone in for Malone in the first half, began to bust things wide open. He and Marsha, with the assistance of M. Brown, et al, got the pigskin down to the 25-yard line, where Meehan dropped a pretty kick for another three points. This gave Syracuse 10 for their total, and it was all they got during the day. But it was enough.

It was not until the middle of the last period, with everything against them, that the Nebraskans began to show some new stuff — the stuff that would have copped the game if applied earlier in the day.

A wonderful eleventh hour rally waltzed the ball to within 15 yards of the Syracuse goal, at which juncture McMahon passed to Rhodes for a touchdown.

Three minutes had been called long before this play. Otoupalik, the crippled veteran of the sure foot, was called in to kick out, which he did, Cook receiving it. But this left the ball at a bad angle with the goal, and Captain Shaw missed. The final score was therefore, Nebraska 9, Syracuse 10.

His first spasm of grief passed, Captain Shaw proved a demon — a raging lion back of of the line. He did all that could be done to hurry matters up in the vain hope of making another score, of any sort. But the imperturbable whistle ended the fray too soon.

It was a grand game of football for the 9,000 spectators assembled there, and yet the question on every lip was as to why Cook was permitted to attempt to general this team of great players — Cook who stammered and repeated signals when but 60 seconds were left for his team in which to snatch victory from defeat!

And the question was also put up to Dr. Stewart by the same lips — the oft repeated question heard this season — “where are the plays to back up a style of formation abandoned by every other first-class varsity team that has attempted it — a style proven a failure against the only three first-class teams in the past two weeks. To say nothing of Kansas, who won at LIncoln in 1916?:

Huskers Sorely Handicapped

The fact that this was a splendid exhibition of football must not be lost sight of. The Huskers, hampered as they are by an enforced style of play that would be adopted by bigger teams if there were the slightest real argument in its favor, at times displayed real speed.

It is difficult to achieve speed when there is no incentive to that virtue in the method of your training. Especially in the last stand during the fourth period, which should go down into history as one of the most glorious chapters in Nebraska football history, the Huskers hustled their cumbersome handful of plays into action with a celerity that dumbfounded their followers.

That they did not win was not their fault. They totaled the best material accorded a Nebraska coach in many years, and that the did not pick out the best ground gainers, put them on some particular job, keep them there and build plays around them, is certainly not the fault of the individuals.

Schellenberg is a mighty good man and he did well until taken out toward the end of the game. Kellogg is another good man, but was permitted to do but little on the offensive, it would seem. Hubka, whose gains were startling at Lawrence a week since, seldom handled the ball today, but successfully on those occasions.

But Dobson — the lion-hearted youth who shouldered most of the burden for the team — struggled through start to finish with the splendid courage and capacity for work of your true gridiron Trojan. The honors for the day must go to him, and if he erred a time or two, it is no marvel, for he carried a bulk of the work.

McMahon, who played only in the last half, should have been employed every instant of the game. If this had been done, Nebraska would today be celebrating. Not that he alone could have won the battle, but that he is speedy enough to get away with at least a small percentage of these plays — any one of which might have paved the way for a touchdown. Stewart must have been saving him — as he has in every other game. Saving for what, you might ask? Perhaps to play Santa Claus on Christmas Day, there can be scarcely any other reason.

Indictment of Stewart

Munn, a tower of strength, was put in at guard for a few moments in the closing stanzas, and removed at the very time when he was opening holes in the Syracuse line big enough to drive an army truck through.

But this is a detail. That Stewart did not build open plays around McMahon and Schellenberg, use Hubka and Kellogg more, thus relieving the splendid Dobson; keep each man at a post long enough to become acquainted with it; entrust the leadership of the team to somebody more perspicacious and heady than Cook; abandon an initial formation that furnishes nothing more than notoriety for himself — and undesirable notoriety at that — these are the indictments today lodged against him by a vast majority of Nebraska football fans. And they believe that a correction of these errors of both omission and commission would have beaten Michigan in all probability. They know it would have beaten Syracuse!

As for the visiting team — it was, indeed, a hard and belligerent and skillful organization. It had a swift and shifty formation from which emerged a bountiful array of bewildering plays. That the Huskers stopped most of them speaks well for Captain Shaw and his men. M. Brown, Barsha, Schwarzer, Meehan and Malone are certainly a busy crew. When Malone was injured and removed it was thought a big hole would be left in the visitors’ punch, but Steele filled the gap admirably. The Yorkers hit hard, tackled hard, played hard — and played to win from the very start. Contrasted with this, Nebraska began to play to win about five minutes before the game was over.

Figures Don't Lie

Syracuse will be seen here again. They will be welcome, for they play football. They have real football coaches, which helps some. As director of athletics, Dr. Stewart says he is empowered to hire a football coach for Nebraska any time he thinks one is needed. Now is the time, Dr. Stewart — if Syracuse is to be played next season!

Statistics show that Nebraska gained 231 yards in scrimmage against 205 yards by Syracuse.

Nebraska made 14 first downs against the visitors’ 13.

Nebraska was penalized for five yards, and Syracuse for 45.

Nebraska punted seven times for 270 yards and the enemy the same number for 275 yards.

Nebraska completed four forward passes out of 10 attempts and Syracuse two out of five.

The Play in Detail

Dobson kicked off to Barsha at the opening of the game and the latter was down on his 25-yard line. Syracuse could not gain and Malone hoisted a long punt which Cook fumbled, Schwarzer recovering for the enemy on Nebraska’s 20-yard line. Lne bucks failed the enemy and Meehan missed a drop kick from the 25-yard mark. Cook and Schellenberg could not make first down, so Dobson punted. A punting duel between Dobson and Malone ensued and was closed when Dobson passed to Schelly for 10 yards, followed by a couple of lucrative line dives by the same two men. Not being able to get away with anything further, Dobson accomplished a drop kick from the 38-yard line. Nebraska 3, Syracuse 0. The rest of the period was uneventful.

Syracuse had the ball near the center at the opening of the second period and some freak passes gained her nothing. Malone punted to Nebraska’s 15-yard line. On the next play Dobson charged through the line where a big hole had been opened, and had cleared all but the last defense when he stopped to dodge an imaginary enemy. He got 20 yards, but might have got still more except for this temporary hesitation. Hubka went into action and took three yards through the line. Syracuse held and Dobson punted. It was Syracuse’s ball on her 11-yard line. Malone punted out of danger. Schellenberg, Hubka and Cook opened a grand offensive with the same old plays so familiar to Nebraska football fans and worked the ball to the foe’s 11-yard line, Hubka doing particularly brilliant work with his peculiar twisting waltz-run. Syracuse held and a forward pass toward the goal failed. Steele went in for Malone on the Yorkers’ team, the latter being injured. The second period ended with Syracuse holding the ball near the center.

Syracuse kicked off over the line twice and Nebraska put the ball in play on her 20-yard line, at the opening of the disastrous third period. Dobson punted 45 yards, outside, and the easterners, seemingly desperate and vindictive, started a fatal march. M. Brown, Barsha and Steele tore around something scandalous, straight football mixed with tricks, and steadily advancing the ball. Meehan passed to Schwarzer for 15 yards and Barsha took nine through the line. Syracuse’s ball on Nebraska’s 18-yard line. Steele and M. Brown couldn’t gain on straight football, so Meehan passed to this same Brown for 15 yards and a touchdown — the only one Syracuse gathered in the state of Nebraska. Meehan kicked an easy goal. Syracuse 7, Nebraska 3. Syracuse kicked off over the goal twice and Nebraska started the ball rolling on her 20-yard line. Dobson punted perpendicularly, getting only 15 yards on the transaction. Steele took 11 yards through left tackle; Barsha five, and then two, through the line. Being unable to gain further, Meehan drop kicked from the 25-yard line. Syracuse 10, Nebraska 3.

McMahon had gone in at the first of this period and now, with the game safely lost, Cook and Stewart began to open up the few “tricks” they possess, and to use this fleet-footed mystery-man. The kickoff went to Mac and he brought it back 10 yards. Kellogg made 12 around left end on a double pass. McMahon repeated the same thing around the other end for 14 yards. Kellogg played the same stunt for a third time and got eight yards.

Folks began to wonder why this stuff had been saved until Syracuse was in the clear. Dobson hit the line for five yards. The Huskers seemed on their way to a touchdown when McMahon fumbled in starting another double or triple pass, and Alexander the Great recovered the ball. Barsha took four through the line and Syracuse was penalized 15 yards, forcing a punt.

This punt opened the busy fourth period, in which the Cornhuskers played more football than they have for two years. Having finally opened at least one eye to a golden opportunity, Cook called for another multiple pass, on which Rhodes took four yards. Meehan intercepted Dobson’s forward pass and scooted 25 yards. M. Brown went around right end for the 10 yards. Steele took 22 yards around right end, and others gains brought the ball within one yard of Nebraska’s goal. Nebraska held wonderfully, but M. Brown finally charged over the fatal chalk, only to be called back because his teammates were way offside. On the next play, started from Nebraska’s 5-yard line, Hubka intercepted a forward pass and was downed on that line. Dobson soon punted and Syracuse did a lot of business until Dobson intercepted a York-state forward flip and returned to his own 20-yard line. On a fake forward pass Dobson took 10 yards, and a real forward heave from Dobson to Hubka got 13. Three passes failed, but the fourth, from Dobson to Hubka, got 14 yards. This amazing good fortune with an entirely new idea under Stewart’s tutelage encouraged Cook to send McMahon sprinting around right and left ends for five and six yards apiece. Dobson again threw to Hubka for 15 yards. It was Nebraska’s ball on the foe’s 20-yard line, with three minutes to play. Cook began to rehearse signals, as usual. Finally McMahon permitted to go around right end for four yards. Syracuse was bewildered. So was Cook. After due consideration, debate and exchange of ideas, McMahon was ordered to execute a forward pass to Rhodes, which he did with great eclat, for a touchdown.

The crisis had arrived. Otoupalik, also playing his last game, and injured, on the sidelines, was called in to kick out to Cook. This was successful, but Captain Shaw missed a hard goal. Nebraska kicked off to Syracuse and the Lincolnites fought with frenzy, realizing that if time permitted they could win the game. But time did not permit.

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Series history

Nebraska is 5-7 all-time against Syracuse.

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1917 season (5-2)

Nebraska Wesleyan Oct. 6
Iowa Oct. 13
Notre Dame Oct. 20
Michigan Oct. 27
Missouri Nov. 10
Kansas Nov. 17
Syracuse Nov. 29

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