LINCOLN – Trapped by the last remnant of the antiquated scheduling, the University of Nebraska football team was forced to play bully for 60 minutes Saturday while opening its season with a 56-0 mauling of South Dakota University.
Although Coach Bob Devaney didn’t retire his regulars until midway in the third quarter, he did utilize 53 players, including four quarterbacks, 11 halfbacks and six fullbacks.
The Cornhuskers recovered South Dakota fumbles to set up their first four touchdowns, then proceeded to mount the school’s largest victory margin in 37 years.
The seventy-fifth Nebraska campaign opened in sunny, muggy weather before a throng estimated at 34 thousand. But storm clouds moved in to darken the day – and lend a dramatic appearance to the overworked scoreboard lights – during the second half.
Although outyarded, 501 to 72, South Dakota Coach Marv Rist commented: “We played better than we probably dared hope for.”
Realizing the conquest meant little in connection with this week’s test at Minnesota, the Huskers also were obliged to be philosophical.
Center Lyle Sittler, co-captain from Crete, remarked hopefully: “You can’t win them all if you don’t win the first, so we are happy. South Dakota was as tough as South Dakota State was in 1963, and they were bigger and better than when I was a sophomore.”
Fred Duda, the junior from Chicago, turned in a competent job in his first game as the Huskers head man at quarterback. He was the game’s leading rusher, averaging 6.1 on 10 carries.
His early passes were overthrown but never a product of panic.
Sophomore Bob Churchich of Omaha made an impressive debut as top reliefer at that position. Hastings rookie Wayne Weber, the fourth man to direct the N.U. attack, closed the scoring with a 39-yard toss to End Bill Haug.
Darting for 54 yards on half a dozen carries, 162-pound Frank Solich was impressive in his new role of fullback. He received press box tribute as the outstanding back.
Balloting for top lineman found junior End Tony Jeter a unanimous choice.
Picking up right where he left off in the Orange bowl, the rangy youngster from Weirton, W. Va., recovered a South Dakota fumble to set up the first touchdown drive–then leveled a key block on End Roger Smith as Kent McCloughan got the points on a right-end sweep from the eight.
Jeter’s recovery of Kelly Morgan’s bobble on the N.U. 49 was the prelude to the second touchdown thrust.
Nebraska’s much-heralded sophomore backs accounted for 132 yards rushing and 62 yards passing. They scored three touchdowns in addition to Weber’s productive toss.
Pete Tatman, the 223-pound novice fullback from North Platte, plunged across from the four and the one. Harry Wilson, backing veteran Bobby Hohn at right half, scored on a brilliantly executed run of 33 yards.
Ron Kirkland, a newcomer from Wisconsin, averaged nearly eight yards on four shots into the line. Although his only punt resulted in a touchback and was tabbed officially at 29 yards, it carried about 60 yards in the air.
Cornhuskers line play was consistently effective, holding the Dakotans to less than a two-yard average on 37 rushes. The visitors got no farther than the Husker 45, then fumbled away possession on next down and never again set foot beyond midfield.
Nebraska required only seven plays for its opening touchdown after being handed the ball by Jeter on the South Dakota 36. Big thrust of the series was a 13-yard flip, Duda to Hohn, carrying to the 12.
After Solich knocked off more at the middle, Duda faked to Solich, scampered down the line to his right and pitched out to Kent McCloughan. The big man from Broken Bow rambled all the way.
Junior Halfback Bill Johnson from Stanton, who finished the day as No. 3 rusher, swept for 30 yards in three tries to enable Nebraska to score again in the opening period.
This was a 30-yard field goal by Duncan Drum, who also added two conversion kicks.
The second period was the crusher as Nebraska blitzed its plucky visitors for 26 points.
Slightly more than three minutes had passed when Solich zoomed through the middle on a draw, cut left and outran Steve Nord and Gary Weaver for 34 yards and a touchdown.
Two plays after South Dakota accepted the kick-off, Weaver fumbled when met hard by Maynard Smidt and John Dervin. McCloughan recovered on the enemy 24.
Duda threw to End Freeman White for a first down on the three, sharp blocks by Ron Griesse and McCloughan then sent Hohn twisting through the left side and over the goal line. Drum’s kick hiked the score to 22 to 0.
Mike Grace, soph end from Sioux City, speared Quarterback Fred Gephart’s fumble on the S.D. 38 in another alter bit of opportunism.
Churchich came in to tag Johnson with a five-yard pass. On the next play, Wilson, a 189-pounder, pounded around left end, eluded several tacklers and cut back sharply for a scoring dash that ended as a comfortable jog.
The final touchdown strike before the half got initial impetus from sophomore Larry Wachholtz’s 19-yard return of a feeble quick kick. That put the ball on the South Dakota 19.
Churchich gained six, Kirkland there and Tatman four. Tatman came right back through the middle for the score and Drum’s conversion topped off the intermission count, 35 to 0.
South Dakota’s determination never flared more noticeably than in the third quarter when the Husker regulars chugged 59 yards and finally were forced to relinquish the ball on the 10.
Devaney gave them one more shot and they made the most of it.
A 16-yard pass from Duda to Jeter, trimmed with a fine block by McCloughan helped the first stringers reach the 25. From that point, McCloughan crashed through the line, broke Coyote Morgan’s tackle inside the five and churned into the end zone.
This was McCloughan at his powerhouse best. For a senior seeing limited action–he had only five carries –his 36 net and pair of touchdowns added up to an A-1 performance. And his blocking was just as impressive.
Senior Doug Tucker was at quarterback during a 52 yard Cornhusker drive at the outset of the fourth quarter.
His sophomore cohorts – Kirkland, Tatman and Fairbury’s Kaye Carstens – punched their way to the 13 with nary a lost yard. Tatman muscled down to the one, where it took three bulldogging tacklers to stop him.
The line provided a generous hole on the right side, enabling Tatman to trot across on the next play.
Cozad Halfback Ken Brunk, another surprise in Devaney’s limitless sophomore talent pool, took the ball from Weber and sped 16 yards to open the final assault.
Pitching from the 39 after a clipping penalty, Weber put the ball high in the air. Haug, a junior wingman from Minneapolis, turned back at the three, stopped dead, made his catch and then resumed his first college touchdown trip.
Smothered by the statistical mass of the winners were fine efforts by South Dakota Backs Weaver, Morgan, Gephart and Larry Hultgren plus unsung line play by gamesters such as Smith, Gordon Osthus, Tom Cotton, Jim Fox and Frank Cahoon.
The score was no reflection of their willingness to do battle under frustrating conditions.
|Yards per carry||1.9||6.3|
Nebraska is 14-1 all-time against South Dakota.
|South Dakota||Sept. 19|
|Iowa State||Oct. 3|
|South Carolina||Oct. 10|
|Kansas State||Oct. 17|
|Oklahoma State||Nov. 14|
Nebraska has played 10 games on Sept. 19. See them all »
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