DALLAS — Pride and pluck kept Nebraska ahead of favored Arkansas for 33 minutes Friday, but the unbeaten Southwest kings swept 80 yards late in the final period to pull out a 10-to-7 victory decision in the Cotton Bowl.
Although Tom McKnelly’s early 31-yard field goal provided the victory margin, it was senior Quarterback Fred Marshall who rescued the Razorbacks.
If a ballot had been taken with 10 minutes to play, Halfback Harry Wilson or Quarterback Bob Churchich of Nebraska might have been named the outstanding back in this black-and-blue duel witnessed by a capacity 75,504 fans.
And the top lineman might have been Husker Langston Coleman, sophomore defensive end whose supercharged play had helped keep Marshall off balance much of the time.
However, “if’s” didn’t win this game.
With Arkansas down, 3 to 7, and 9:21 to go, Marshall started showing the legerdemain that had earned him the title of the Southwest’s most valuable back.
The senior from Memphis, Tenn., passed for 60 and ran for 11 of the 80 yards Arkansas traveled to smash the Huskers’ upset threat.
And after Bobby Burnett had ground out the final five yards in two carries, and Nebraska attempted to rally with 4:41 remaining, it was All-America Linebacker Ronnie Caveness who led the host club’s clutch-tough defense.
Then the balloters named the ringleaders: Marshall and Caveness.
The statistics compliment N.U.’s underdogs and give truthful evidence as to the game’s competitive tightness.
First downs were even at 11. Nebraska held a 100-to-45 advantage in rushing; Arkansas was superior in the air, 131 yards to 68. In total defense, the winners had an eight-yard edge, 176 to 168.
Nebraska snapped Arkansas’s defensive shut-out string at 21 quarters, but couldn’t keep the Razorbacks from extending their school-record victory string to 12.
The latter also matched the longest victory ride in the nation.
It was the first bowl loss for N.U. Coach Bob Devaney, who started a run of three triumphs when his Wyoming club defeat Hardin-Simmons in the 1958 Sun Bowl.
Wilson, the 189-pound rookie from Steubenville, O., did yeoman work for the Cornhuskers on a heavily clouded afternoon that produced a hard shower immediately after the Arkansas touchdown.
Wilson was the game’s leading rusher, netting 84 yards on a dozen carries. This included a 45-yard dash early in the fourth-quarter that put the ball on the enemy 35, an effort soon nullified by the foe’s defenders.
Although Wilson was the receiver on only one of the Churchich’s eight completions, he made it good for a 36-yard gain – the key thrust in the touchdown drive.
The ever-gallant Frank Solich pounded and scampered for 34 yards; Kent McCloughan netted 24. Arkansas’s best against N.U.’s ground defense was 23 yards by Burnett.
Surprisingly, Nebraska was able to hammer through Arkansas’s vaunted middle defense for important yardage on its 69-yard scoring drive.
Arkansas had pushed 28 yards on its first offense opportunity, settling for a field goal from the 21 after Walt Barnes’s third-down stop of a keeper by Marshall.
The Huskers were hitting with great ferocity in this period, twice separating Arkansas from the ball on blitzing plays by Barnes and Coleman. The recoveries were by Huskers Bill Johnson and Bernie McGinn.
The latter’s capture on the Arkansas 41 sent Nebraska surging to the 15. A motion penalty cost N.U. five yards. Solich made a couple, but Loyd Williams nailed McCloughan for a minus two on a pass. Another toss fell incomplete and Churchich’s fourth-down keeper was held to a single yard by Caveness and Bobby Roper.
Next time they got the ball – in the opening minutes of the second period–the Huskers squeezed it for six points.
The first momentum came on Churchich’s third-down pass to End Freeman White for 13 yards. Two plays later, Wilson got an edge on defender Jim Finch as they both raced down the sideline in Razorback territory.
Wilson was near the line when he caught Churchich’s pass on the 21. He got three more yards before touching the sideline chalk. It was a 36-yard penetration.
McCloughan grabbed six yards with aiding blocks from Larry Kramer and White. Hohn punched the line for one. Wilson was met hard by Ken Hatfield, broke that tackle and finally was dragged down on the one-yard line by safety Harry Jones.
Wilson then smashed through the strong side defended by Caveness and Jim Williams. The scoreboard then showed the first points made at Arkansas’s expense in six games.
Duncan Drum’s placement gave Nebraska a 7-to-3 advantage seven minutes 45 seconds before the intermission.
Fifty seconds before the half-time gun, Nebraska got possession on its 35 and gambled for scoreboard padding. But, on first down, Hatfield intercepted Churchich’s pass to White.
The third period was a bruising defensive show, with alternating heroics by the likes of Coleman, Barnes, rampaging John Strohmyer and Dick Czap of Nebraska; Caveness, Williams, Phillips and Jim Johnson of Arkansas.
An interception and 14-yard return by Larry Wachholtz gave Nebraska its finest opportunity. The North Platte sophomore delivered the ball to the N.U. 47. The Huskers stalled on the Arkansas 30, however, on fourth down, with the ball on the 38. Drum attempted a field goal that was low and short.
Nebraska did a superb job of eliminating Hatfield as a potential spoiler on kick returns. He was forced to call for several fair catches; finished with a scant total of 16 yards on a pair of punt returns.
This control again was in evidence when Ron Kirkland punted through the Arkansas end zone for a touchback in the fourth period. The Razorbacks had had to start from their 20, apparently well out of harm’s way.
But Marshall immediately came on with a carnival pass attack that was completely fitting in the Fairgrounds setting of the Cotton Bowl.
He whipped to Lamb for 12 yards on first down. Then to Burnett for 11. A couple of plays later, Jim Lindsey looked up just in time to make an over-the-shoulder grab for ten yards and a first down on the N.U. 43.
Marshall shook off a tackler behind the line of scrimmage and ran to the Nebraska 33 before Coleman could pin him. Lindsey found himself alone on the 25, made an easy catch and galloped to the five, where Johnson and Wachholtz made the saving tackle.
First and goal, and the air was filled with pleading hog calls.
Burnett got two at the middle, then took a Marshall pitchout, wheeled right and fell across the goal line in McNulty’s sprawling grasp. McKnelly’s boot from placement made it a three-point triumph.
Wilson’s driving runs gave Nebraska its main hope of rallying. But aerial diversion also was needed, and this was impossible with the now jubilant Porkers making Churchich the victim of an overpowering rush while blanketing his receivers.
There is little consolation of any nature for a team that played as hard as the Cornhuskers only to lose in the closing minutes. Their rooters, however, will insist on reminding them that they held the nation’s No. 2 team to its lowest score of the year, spoiled its long shut-out string and held the upper hand more than half the game.
No N.U. fan could have less than admiration for that tremendous effort.
|Yards per carry||1.3||2.3|
Nebraska is 0-1 all-time against Arkansas.
|South Dakota||Sept. 19|
|Iowa State||Oct. 3|
|South Carolina||Oct. 10|
|Kansas State||Oct. 17|
|Oklahoma State||Nov. 14|
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