LINCOLN — Nebraska fell one foot short of whipping Colorado Saturday.
The Huskers marched 72 yards on a late drive — but couldn’t carry that last foot.
So Colorado pulled out a 14-10 victory in a rugged Homecoming Day game which left 36 thousand fans almost as worn and weary as the 17 players who carried the Husker load.
Lady Luck both smiled and frowned on coach Bill Glassford and his Huskers in the last, torrid three minutes.
The air was tense when the Huskers had a fourth-down play coming up from the 10-yard line — fourth down and five to go.
Before the ball was snapped, Colorado’s right side was over-anxious and broke offside.
That was a real break for Nebraska, because it set up a first down, only five yards from the goal.
Bob Smith, who had gained 120 yards up to that point, hit the middle for two more. Dennis Korinek added a yard.
Third down now, with two to go for the winning points.
John Bordogna fed a short lateral to Smith, and he went roaring out to his right.
But Defender Frank Bernardi evaded a blocker and nailed Smith on the five for a three-yard loss.
Husker fans sighed — but retained hope with one play left.
Fullback Ray Novak was elected to carry on this final, fateful play.
He started fast, lowered his head, drove hard over guard, then made a dive for it — a dive and a slide.
There was a big pileup on the goal line — but when they pulled ‘em all off, the ball was still a foot short of where the Huskers wanted to be.
Colorado took over on downs and ran out the remaining minute and five seconds with two deliberate line plays.
Disappointed as they were, the Nebraska followers had to pay tribute to the Colorado line for that mighty stand.
It was a terrific defensive finish for a Buff wall which had taken the jump on the Huskers in the first period, only to be pushed around most of the rest of the game — up to that last three minutes.
But this business of falling short was doubly painful to the Huskers, because it was the second time they had failed to cash in on a scoring opportunity that would have produced victory.
Earlier in the final period they marched 53 yards, only to lose the ball on downs on the 10.
This time many of the fans grew angry at the officials, because it appeared they had overlooked calling pass interference against the Coloradans.
On a third-down play from the 14-yard line, End Bill Schabacker reached up to grab a pass from Bordogna on the five.
But Bernardi banged him to the ground — before the ball reached his hands. Many fans waited for an interference signal — but it didn’t come.
So it went back to the 14, Bordogna made only four on a fake pass and carry, and the ball was lost 10 yards from the goal.
After those two chances which weren’t cashed in, it was scant consolation that Nebraska had all the better of it in statistics.
The Huskers outdowned the Buffs, 20-10, and had a margin of 303-196 in total net gain.
But those are cold figures — the only important ones are those in the final score.
Colorado never would have had a chance to defend its lead in those dying moments had it not been for some splendid running by Emerson Wilson, 183-pound sophomore fullback from Kansas City, Kans.
Wilson carried 22 times for a net gain of 112 yards — an average of 5.1 yards per carry.
Most ot the time he drove over the middle of the Husker line and wasn’t stopped until hit by the halfbacks.
A quick kick by Carroll Hardy had put the Huskers in an early hole. Bernardi got back 31 yards with Novak’s return kick, and Coach Dal Ward’s visitors were only 27 yards from the goal.
They made that distance in five plays, as the line outcharged the Husker defenders and let Wilson make 19 yards in four carries.
Bernardi added eight. But Wilson went the last two for the touchdown and Roger Hunt made it 7-0.
Nebraska stopped another Buff drive on its 20 in the second period, then carried 80 yards in 19 plays to produce a 7-7 tie at the half.
Smith’s 16-yard scamper after fielding a short pass was the longest gain on this march. But Jon McWilliams contributed gains of 10 and seven to keep the bid alive.
Bordogna sneaked the last yard and Novak’s extra-point kick tied it shortly before intermission.
Two-thirds of the way through the third quarter, Nebraska took its only lead on an 18-yard place kick by Novak.
The Huskers had carried to the six. But Wilson roared in to toss McWilliams for a seven-yard loss on a third-down play.
Novak then kicked his second field goal of the season, sending the ball straight and true against an 11 m.p.h. south wind.
But Colorado came back after the next kick-off with a 65-yard march to regain the lead.
Gary Knafelc, 6-4 senior end, was the hero of this drive. He fielded one toss from Hardy for 43 yards to the Husker 12.
Then on a fourth-down play, the Buffs completely fooled the Huskers. Bernardi took the ball from Hunt and made a left-handed pass while on the dead run.
Knafelc was in the open and made an easy catch for the touchdown. Hunt’s second extra-point made it 14-10.
McWilliams returned the next kick-off 27 yards. But he was injured on the play and was finished for the day just before the last period opened.
That brought Korinek back in at right half and he gave Smith lots of help on a couple of marches. Once he ran wide and cut back for 22 yards.
But all of the yardage made by the Huskers in that last period was wasted, because they couldn’t go all the way.
The defeat dropped Nebraska to a 2-3 standing in the Big Seven, and the victory let Colorado climb out of a share of the cellar with a final league mark of 2-4.
Oklahoma, which already has cinched a clear title and trip to the Orange Bowl, will have nothing at stake in its game against Nebraska at Lincoln next week — except continuation of its 40-game streak without a loss in the Big Seven.
Nebraska is 49-18 all-time against Colorado.
|Kansas State||Oct. 3|
|Miami (FL)||Oct. 17|
|Iowa State||Nov. 7|
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