Nebraska 6
Minnesota 0

Oct. 18, 1902 • Northrop Field, Minneapolis

Win Laurels in Far North


Captain Jack Westover, tackle.


Minneapolis, Minn., Oct. 18 — Nebraska battered its way to victory on Northrop field this afternoon in a spartan contest that must yield lasting football fame to every Cornhusker who participated in the defeat of the Gopher eleven. The score itself tells volumes. A shut-out of Dr. William's men is an achievement on which no knight of the pigskin dare look with unconcern, but coming at a time and from a source practically unexpected in Minnesota the event has assumed the complexion of a calamity here.

Eliminating the first half from the retrospective view of the game the most impartial critic must confess that Nebraska was clearly entitled to its victory. The Cornhuskers absolutely outplayed, outgenerated and outdid the Gophers at every turn in the second half. Of course Minnesota was lacking in many of the essentials of championship form, but its men played with the desperateness of heroes, leading a forlorn hope, and against such striving victory must have been gained only by the speed of the whirlwind, directed with the skill of masters and carried on the brawn of indomitable giants. And it was with such things that Nebraska did triumph.

Again and again, the Gophers chagrined, dismayed and angered by the unexpected strength of their adversaries, hurled themselves against the sturdy Nebraska line only to be beaten back with the inexorable regularity that Gibraltar beats back the waters which eternally seek to mount its crags. Van Valkenberg, the Goliath of the Minnesota team, towering over all of the Cornhuskers, was shoved forward in a mighty effort at gains, but even he was buffeted back as though his 220 pounds of brawn and muscle formed only a huge toy in the Nebraska's hands.

Then the Cornhuskers' line advanced. It was no longer a wall of defense, but an irresistible torrent that swept the Gophers off their feet, drenched their last hope of victory and bore the Nebraska vanguard to triumph.

A Desperate Battle

But it was a desperate battle to the close. The Gophers fought with the desperation of warriors to whom defeat meant vanquishment. Shedd carried the ball for Nebraska on a brilliant run around ends for a gain of twenty yards. Harris alone remained to save the Gopher goal. He met the emergency, not with the skill and caution of a man measuring results, but with the desperateness of a soldier on whom rests the last hope of averting rout. None of the 6,000 spectators who, thrilled at the stores of plucky performances which the game developed, will soon forget the tackle that brought Shedd down in his tracks and lay Harris insensible for fully three minutes.

Of course the Minnesotans have abundant explanations to offer for their defeat. Chief among the, is the charge of inadequate and inefficient preparatory coaching. University men in large numbers denounce Dr. Williams' continued neglect to remedy a defect which had been pointed to him in past seasons — a lack of energetic and organized interference Minnesota, in comparison with its opponents, not only lacked speed and experience but failed to show fighting energy. Time and again the Gophers were downed in their tracks because the runners had been left unprotected.

The offense of the Minnesotans, while fairly good in the first half of the contest, went to pieces in the second half. As soon as the Cornhuskers "got a line" on the Gophers style of playing the scarlet and cream waved in anticipated victory and the maroon and gold became the color of mingled fear and dejection. What is accepted as showing the best index to the Nebraska team's form is the fact that brilliant individual play was confined to only three Cornhuskers — Shedd, Bender and Benedict. The victory was won by team work more than by exceptional personal feats.

The First Half

In the first half Knowiton kicked thirty-five yards to Nebraska's nine-yard line, where Rogers downed the runner in his tracks. Then Nebraska kicked the ball back to the center of the field, and Minnesota was as far from Nebraska's goal as ever. Later on Rogers tried a drop kick from Nebraska's twenty-five yard line, but failed to make the goal, the oval going to the Cornhusker's nine-yard line. Again Booth's men kicked back to the center of the field. By small gains Minnesota again advanced the ball into Nebraska territory. Then with the oval on the thirty-yard line, Nebraska was penalized fifteen yards, Minnesota taking the ball to their opponents' fifteen-yard line. The Gophers lost the ball on downs and once more Nebraska kicked to the center of the field. These were the only instances during the entire game when Minnesota saw hope of victory. The half ended with the ball on Nebraska's forty-yard line. Minnesota having the ball.

Although Nebraska had shown surprising strength up to this time, the crowd, while fearful of the result, still had confidence in the Gophers. The rooters were hopeful that Dr. Williams' men would bestir themselves in the second half and made a finish entirely in keeping with others that have marked the games on Northrop field this season. The Cornhuskers were heavier than was expected, if anything, Booth's men outweighed the Gophers.

The Second Half

The second half opened inauspiciously. Neither side seemed able to make any headway. Well toward the middle of the half, however, the Cornhuskers took the aggressive and commenced to press the Gophers hard. With the ball in the center of the field Shedd, for Nebraska, was given the oval and, going around left end, made a sensational run for twenty yards. Evading the linesmen and backs, he shot down the field at a terrific pace. Harris was the only Gopher who could head him off, and chances for a Nebraska score never looked brighter. For the first time during the game the crowd was given a heart breaking scare. But Harris proved equal to the occasion, and, by a splendid tackle, brought his man down on Minnesota's thirty-five-yard line.

But Nebraska was not satisfied with mere sensational runs. Booth's men wanted a score, and they got it. They went after the Gophers in whirlwind fashion. Selecting the right end as a point of attack, they started a veritable procession, fairly sweeping the Gophers off their feet. Steadily the oval was pushed in the direction of the Minnesota goal line. Good gains were made at every moved until the ball was carried to the three-yard line. Twice the Nebraskans tried to carry the oval over from that point without result. On the third effort however, Bender took it over for the first and only touchdown of the game. Benedict kicked goal.

Coach Booth of Nebraska, in discussing the game, said, "Sand and condition won out. Nebraska did not play her game, but it proved more than fast enough for Minnesota. In my opinion, Minnesota should have kicked more."

Dr. Mayhew of Nebraska said, "The Minnesota team was overtrained. It is evidence that the team has been put through too much work. The players lacked in color. They did not look fresh and have the pink complexion that one expects to see in the well trained athletes."

More coverage

World-Herald post-game coverage (PDF)


Series history

Nebraska is 25-33 all-time against Minnesota.

See all games »


1902 season (9-0)

Doane Sept. 27
Colorado Oct. 4
Grinnell Oct. 11
Minnesota Oct. 18
Missouri Oct. 25
Haskell Nov. 1
Kansas Nov. 8
Knox Nov. 15
Northwestern Nov. 27

This day in history

Nebraska has played 19 games on Oct. 18. See them all »

©2019 BH Media Group