LINCOLN — Nebraska beats the touch teams, too.
Bob Devaney’s iron-willed Cornhuskers, once more sparked by the defensive Black Shirts, put together a handful of brilliant clutch plays in the fourth quarter Saturday to break Missouri’s fanatical resistance, 9 to 0.
The largest concentration gathering in the history of the state — a marveling throng of 48,876 — saw Nebraska take a giant stride in defense of its Big Eight Conference football title.
First place in the league race is shared with Kansas University, which this week will be host to the Huskers in a game with championship overtones.
The crowd included two emissaries from the Sugar Bowl, who took note that the nation’s longest win string was stretched to 14.
Nebraska finally eased the mountainous tension by scoring a safety early in the fourth period when End Langston Coleman belted Quarterback Gary Lane into his own end zone.
The clincher came six minutes later when Quarterback Bob Churchich, benched the entire first half with a tender ankle, collaborated with Halfback Ken McCloughan on a 67-yard touchdown play.
Churchich apparently can be counted on for service in the showdown with Kansas.
However, the Huskers Saturday lost End Mike Grace, the sparkling rookie from Sioux City. The defensive wingman suffered badly torn knee ligaments and was to undergo “immediate” surgery.
It was a game of harsh contact, limping victims, repeated crises in first-and-10 measurements, bellows of protest from the sidelines, and long stretches of futility for both offenses.
Missouri made a heroic effort, but Nebraska did just a little better at every turn.
With tacklers out-muscling the blockers and runners much of the time, Missouri was forced to attempt field goals from the N.U. 30, 40 and 41.
Nebraska missed on one from the Tiger 30.
While handing Missouri its first shut-out in 19 games and holding the visitor to its scantiest rushing total of the season — one hundred yards for 36 carries, Nebraska stretched to 12 the number of consecutive quarters in which it has refused to yield a touchdown.
The Black Shirts drove their first vital wedge with a minute and a half remaining in the third period when End Chuck Doepke clamped his hands on a football fumbled by Mizzou’s fleet Charlie Brown.
Nebraska took over on the enemy 35.
On first down, Churchich wheeled back to throw a pass but lost his grip when hit by a tackler. Far behind the line of scrimmage, McCloughan scooped up the ball and raced wide to his left to the 27.
Bob Hohn then broke around left end but was a foot short of a first down.
Bruce Smith got over that hump with a two-yard plunge, then added two more.
With Bruce Van Dyke and Vince Tobin making great stops, Nebraska wound up a foot short of another first down on the Missouri 12.
There was no immediate pay-off, but Doepke’s recovery and the 23-yard advance had stuck Missouri with the ball deep in its own territory.
The fourth quarter now was a minute and a half old. Earl Denny’s plunge moved the ball only to the Missouri 13. Lane went back to pass. He retreated farther and farther as the Black Shirts blanketed his receivers.
Meanwhile, Langston Coleman was swooping down on him. The sophomore end made contact just in front of the goal line, driving Lane into the end zone for a safety.
With 12:34 to play, Nebraska had a hard-earned two point advantage.
Nebraska couldn’t muster a first down after Missouri’s free kick; neither could Missouri after Ron Kirkland punted out of bounds on its 36.
Lane’s good punt was downed by Johnny Roland on the Nebraska 38, and now the Huskers were ready for the back-breaker.
McCloughan galloped through the right side for four yards.
With Churchich expertly faking a pass, Frank Solich pranced through the middle on a draw to the Missouri 49. McCloughan added three, and Wilson got 6½ more. Churchich wedged straight ahead to put the ball on the 37, good for another first down.
So far so good, but Missouri was still playing a rampaging defensive game. When Churchich trotted back for a pass, he quickly found himself in the arms of End Bud Abell.
He broke the 212-pound defender’s tackle, then somehow managed to launch an off-balance pass to McCloughan, who was loitering near the Missouri 25.
Kent caught the ball and whirled to start his run. Big, fast Roland promptly rushed toward him — and Johnny is a deadly tackler.
But Roland didn’t touch him. Instead, he was the recipient of a Halloween block by Larry Kramer, Nebraska’s hustling left tackle. Roland’s bones continued to rattle as McCloughan raced to his tenth touchdown of the year.
Duncan Drum’s kick lifted the advantage to nine points with six minutes and 32 seconds remaining.
After three passes and a punt by Lane, Missouri never again had possession.
Doug Tucker, who started the season as No. 4 quarterback, did a good pinch-hit job for Churchich throughout the first half.
Twice he steered Nebraska as deep as the Missouri 28. Both threats ended with interceptions, however, as Ken Boston picked off a Tucker pass and Tobin stole one thrown by End Freeman White on a surprise play tried twice this game.
Missouri knocked even louder, pushing to the Nebraska 15 in the first quarter, and battering to the 21 in the second period.
To illustrate the effectiveness of the Black Shirts, consider Missouri’s fate midway in the first period after Lane had dashed 37 yards to the Nebraska 17.
Joe McNulty and the ill-fated Grace halted Reese after a gain of two. Bernie McGinn and McNulty jammed Brown for a yard loss.
Trying to get off a pass to Denny, who was waiting in the end zone, Lane was smeared for a seven-yard loss by Coleman. Missouri then set the ball on the 30 for the first field goal attempt by Bill Bates.
The bid that fizzled on the 21 was marked by Ted Vactor’s tackle following a Lane-Denny aerial and Mike Kennedy’s tremendous stop when only inches were needed on fourth down.
Coleman and Missouri’s Rich Bernsen were hailed as line standouts for their respective teams. Press box balloting tabbed McCloughan and Lane as the top backs.
McCloughan was the game’s leading rusher with a yardage net of 45. Lane picked up 57 passing and netted 25 on the ground.
The hard-working Missourian was thrown for losses totaling 30 yards. That brand of defensive fury, as much as anything, was the trademark of this Nebraska victory.
|Yards per carry||2.8||2.6|
Nebraska is 65-36 all-time against Missouri.
|South Dakota||Sept. 19|
|Iowa State||Oct. 3|
|South Carolina||Oct. 10|
|Kansas State||Oct. 17|
|Oklahoma State||Nov. 14|
Nebraska has played 20 games on Oct. 31. See them all »