When the football history of Nebraska university has piled up into thousands of volumes and triumphant athletes of 1908 are gray bearded patriarchs with canvas-clad grandson struggling on the gridiron, there will still be told the story of the Cornhuskers grand victory over the Ames Aggies, and the thrilling run of "Pip" Cooke when the sands of times in the last half had nearly run. It was at Dietz park yesterday afternoon before 8,000 people that this wondrous struggle was lost and won, four touchdowns to three. Nebraska 23, Ames 17.
Omaha has long been neglected in a football way and far down in its heart has felt the slight. No better proof of this could be sensed than a glimpse of the stands of the Gate City yesterday afternoon, or of the Dietz gridiron a few hours later. The pigskin epidemic hit the metropolis with terrific force, every bit as virulent as the black plague, and last night the town was football crazed. And no wonder, for a finer exposition of the science of the game has never been seen in the state, such swift, open playing, sportsmanlike spirit and see-saw changes in fortune. Until the last three minutes of play the winner could not be picked, and even now, with Nebraska the fair and favored conquerors, it is difficult to say that she played the better game.
Ames came out of her lair like a pack of grizzly bears, if you can imagine a grizzly bear that can run a hundred yards in scarcely more than ten seconds. She was determined, powerful, skillful and game, and until the whistle squealed the battle to a close, there was still a lowering possibility hanging over the scarlet and cream that one of these twisting, writhing human battering rams might break away and for a fourth time tie the score when their defeat seemed certain.
Nebraska, on the other hand, was the same cool, adamantine fighting machine which has brought so may laurels to Lincoln in the past few weeks, to say nothing of past years. She jumped at the throat of her fierce opponents with savage intensity of purpose and when she found the foe to be worthy of her steel, waged fiercer and fiercer warfare. Three times she scored, only to find herself presently overcome by the enemy and the score a tie. Three times she crossed the distant goal line, and the next instant, seemingly, was herself battling desperately but vainly under the shadow of her own crossbar. Ah, it was a battle of battles, a game of all games, and the losers can go back to their haunts with the greatest admiration of victorious Nebraska gracing their magnificent effort.
And to "Pip" Cooke, diminutive, crippled, but endowed with the speed of a lightning flash, must go the credit, the sole credit, for the fact that lucky Nebraska can today claim the championship of the Missouri Valley and celebrate this heartbreaking victory over the agricultural gentlemen from the wilds of Iowa. For it was he, only a few hours out of the surgical ward of a Lincoln hospital, who finally persuaded Coach Cole to allow him to take his position as quarterback with but four minutes left to play, and who immediate broke away from the savage foe on a quarterback run and dashed to the Ames four-yard line before he was thrown outside by a desperate Aggie who sailed fully ten feet through the air and flung the little hero to the failing as if he had been a baby. The score had been a tie up to the time of his debut, and Sturznegger, drunk with the joy of his comrade's wonderful run—slashed through the weighty line of his foes and crushed the ball beneath him, over the line for the winning score.
Even as a financial proposition it would seem that Omaha should have more big games. Before noon every seat had been sold and what standing room there was at the Dietz park had been practically annexed by those thoughtful ones who made arrangements beforehand. A seething mass of cheering enthusiasts from both institutions surrounded the headquarter hotels—the Rome and the Henshaw, respectively — long before the game and at 1 o'clock the grandstands at the park were filled.
No vehicles were allowed in the ground and so there were scores, if not hundreds of automobiles and carriages parked outside on the surrounding streets. The crowd was immense and the street car company was scarcely able to handle it, although there were few complaints. Ames had the north grand stands and Nebraska the south, while the side lines were roped, so that the tremendous throngs compelled to stand completely girdled the gridiron. The officials were very strict in the matter of allowing people on the field, and only newspaper men, photographers, surgeons and players were to be seen on that sacred ground.
The first bunch of Ames rooters, those who arrived during the morning, were the first to enter the grounds, taking their places, amid storms of cheers, at 2 o'clock. Ten minutes later the Nebraska band arrived, forty pieces in all, and was followed shortly by the Cornhusker rooters, who, with the musicians, paraded the field and practiced their motley yells. Then, amid a veritable cyclone of applause, the Nebraska team took the field and began to rapidly run through signals.
At 2:23 the Ames team entered and were greeted in a way which made the Nebraska bunch sit up and observe. They also began to run through their signals in a different part of the lot and shortly King Cole, the great Cornhusker coach, took his athletes aside in an Indianlike circle and delivered to them a telling lecture. Coach Williams soon rendered his proteges a like service. By this time the stands were entirely filled, with the exception of the space reserved for the later Ames enthusiasts who did not arrive in time to witness the kickoff.
Captain Harvey of Nebraska won the toss and chose to defend the west goal, with the strong northwesterly wind practically at his back. The wisdom of this decision was later shown, for every score made by either side in the game was registered at the east goal line. The west line was never even in danger. A deathly hush fell over the field as the officials strode upon the gridiron and the ball was placed in the center.
During this lull, which preceded the greatest football storm ever seen in the west, Cy Lambert, captain of the Ames aggregation, running gracefully forward as his team swung into the fray with him, booted the ball far down the field, one of his characteristically beautiful kicks, and the game was on.
Nebraska recovered the ball in a good shape and made an excellent return, although the ferocious Aggie tacklers swarmed into the fray like demons. The Lincoln college strong men proceeded to "tear 'em up" with reckless abandon, playing around the end almost exclusively, while Beltzer garnered twenty-five yards through right tackle. A forward pass to Birkner yield twenty yards, but the Cornhuskers were penalized twenty on a diseased forward pass. Nebraska punted and was again penalized twenty yards on the next play.
There was much see-saw work, back and forth, in the center of the field, and soon Nebraska punted to Ames' twenty-five yards line. Ames returned the compliment. Then ensued the start of an afternoon of as pretty open football as could be imagined. It was made up largely of end runs and trick plays, with an occasional forward pass and lots of strong punting. In ten minutes of play, however, one of these passes left the ball in Nebraska’s possession on Ame’s ten-yard line, and the first mass play of the afternoon advanced it to the two-yard line and in a moment Birkner carried it over for the first touchdown. Harvey kicked goal amidst a pandemonium of joy from the Nebraska stand.
Score—Nebraska 6, Ames 0.
At this most unfortunate juncture, at least for them, the second installment of Ames rooters arrived, headed by a big, uniformed band, which immediately gave battle to the Nebraska musicians. Nothing daunted by the score which had been made but a few seconds previous to their arrival, the systematic noisemakers from the Aggie school proceeded to tear things up. Cy Lambert kicked to Birkner, who made a spectacular forty-yard return which brought the entire gallery to its feet.
Ames held, and a session of forward passes, on both sides, ensued. Ames rushed the ball to Nebraska’s seven-yard line, although the Cornhuskers helped considerably with fumbled punts and crude tackling at the ends. Harvey finally punted out of danger, but Hubbard, swift and as persevering as a locomotive, buzzed around right end for twenty-five yards. Coach “King” Cole lighted another cigar and pranced with nervousness on the side lines.
Then the Aggies sprung a surprise on their opponents, which will be long remembered. With the goal posts and crossbar within striking distance, Cy Lambert, famed all over the west for his kicking propensities, dropped back for a place kick. The quarterback smoothed off the ground nicely, looked around signaled for the ball, which sailed past him to Lambert, who in turn shot the pigskin to the fleet Mr. Knox. This Mr. Knox merely trotted, dodging his baffled opponents easily, and was finally down on Nebraska’s three-yard line. Cy Lambert then smashed through the line before the Cornhuskers could get their breath, and scored Ames’ first touchdown. By some unknown misfortune he failed to kick goal, which might have lost the game had not “Pip” Cooke come into his own at the last minute. Score: Nebraska 6, Ames 5.
After the kick-off Mr. Hubbard began to get busy again. He seemed to have the Nebraska ends at his mercy, and for a while ran them off their feet. He made twenty-five yards around right and then a few more around left, and then some around right again. At this stage the Cornhuskers seemed to be playing like high school boys, and the visitors were walking away from them. But the redoubtable Cy Lambert was thrown back for ten yards on a fake punt, and after an exchange of kicks, during which period Cy missed a long placement attempt, Nebraska suddenly braced and, as King Cole exhorted them from the side lines, the state athletes plowed steadily through the heavy Ames lines and Kroger soon carried the ball over for a touchdown, after which Harvey kicked goal. Score: Nebraska 12, Ames 5.
Chaloupka was hurt in the final struggle which netted the latest touchdown, but gamely refused to be retired and went on with his telling work. Ames kicked to Beltzer, who made a startling return of thirty yards, which came in the nature of a relish for the splendid meal of score with which the insatiable appetites of the Lincoln rooters had been glutted. Just as Captain Harvey was instructing his men to play a joke on the enemy and make just one more touchdown before taking a little much needed rest, the timekeeper rudely wheezed out the notification of the end of the half, and the delirious wearers of the crimson and cream bounced to their feet with a peon of joy.
Score, first half, Nebraska 12, Ames 5.
Never before in the history of Omaha has an athletic field been treated to such an extraordinary sight as the Aggies then produced for the edification of the immense and august assemblage. Headed by their nattily attired and exceedingly capable military band, some 500 husky masculine rooters waltzed around the field in the famous “College Snake Dance,” a performance practically common on eastern fields, but news to the unsophisticated football mind of neglected Omaha. It was a reeling serpentine affair, actually beautiful for the life the dancers instilled into it, and even Nebraska, poured in its erstwhile supremacy, as forced to gaze in awe. The ceremony consumed some ten mines, while the coaches of the two panting teams harangued them in no gentle terms on what was expected of them during the second half.
Presently, the conflict was resumed, after Nebraska had yelled itself hoarse, and Ames had exhausted it virility temporarily in the rollicking snake step. Harvey kicked to the Aggies and an oven battle waged over the center of the field for a considerable length of time. Cy Lambert, grand football ... that he is, unsurpassed in the west as a kicker and almost impregnable in offense, was several times ... by the desperate tackling of his foes, but always he shook his head with dogged determination and returned to his task. With undiminished vigor.
Nebraska was often penalized for offside play and for holding, as well as once for rough work in tackling, but the game was, for all that, most astonishingly clean. Hubbard, the master of the Aggies in carrying the ball made a startling run around left end and crossed Nebraska’s line, but also crossed the side line in doing so, and was therfor yanked complaining back to that point. Cy Lambert, however, inspired with the “score-lust,” was not to be denied, and plunged directly through the Cornhuskers’ famous defense line for a touchdown and immediately redeemed himself for his previous failure by kicking a difficult goal.
Score, Nebraska 12, Ames 11.
Nebraska kicked to Ames and the lightning-like Hubbard returned twenty-five yards before the savage Nebraskans could smash his wriggling body to earth. The Cornhuskers, finally, realizing that they not only had a hard game, but one which might send them to defeat and lose them the Missouri valley championship if they did not get busy, began to plow indomitably through the center and Ames only recovered the ball in time to enable Cy Lambert, standing five yards behind his own goal line, to kick thirty-five yards out of danger—a most beautiful punt.
After a few mildly successful trick plays the Huskers attempted a forward pass, which was fumbled, but Chaloupka fell on the ball on Ames’ five-yard line and immediately plunged through left tackle for a touchdown on the far right of the field. Birkner kicked out to Harvey, but the captain muffed the pigskin and the extra one point was denied Nebraska.
Score, Nebraska 17, Ames 11.
Ames kicked with the wind to Nebraska and Temple was hurt in the scrimmage, but gamely returned. Hubbard made a fair catch presently, but instead of kicking tried a fake and was thrown back for ten yards loss. Lambert booted the ball out of bounds, directly into his own college band, which threw that loyal aggregation of musicians into a panic. A kicking duel ensued between Cy and Harvey, but following one of his own tee efforts Lambert caught the fumbled punt and dashed across the line for the touchdown, which, with the goal he immediately kicked, tied the game into a perilous knot.
Score, Nebraska 17, Ames 17.
At this crucial moment, out of the sidelines, limping with his frightfully sore knee, emerged the heroic “Pip” Cooke. Unable to see his team threatened with the loss of the Missouri valley championship without at least an effort on his part, he insisted on entering the game. Bentley, who had been playing splendid ball, was removed to make room for him, and by Nebraska’s polite request Ames kicked off.
Cooke’s presence seemed to inspire his team and Birkner tore immense holes in the line and circled the ends for big gains until finally the ball was in the center of the field. “Pip: limped around right end for fifteen yards, Nebraska lost the ball on a fumble and then the inevitable kicking ensued. Back and forth the ball passed, until finally the Cornhuskers had the ball again in the center.
Realizing his danger and finding himself near his own line, following one of Harvey’s long kicks, Lambert punted once more to the center and soon recovered the pigskin on Nebraska’s fumble. A forward pass was then tried and the Huskers again had the ball when some luckless Aggie dropped the treasure. The timekeepers announced but four more minutes to play, the score a tie, the Missouri valley championship at stake and the ball in Nebraska’s hands on the center line. Then it happened.
“Pip” Cooke ordered a quarterback run, the ball was passed; he pretended to pass it to one of the backs and the entire motley array of players, with the exception of two Ames backfield men, piled up in a writhing heap. Then “Pip” calmly started on his ever famous run around the right end.
There was no interference, just the field, the goal posts and two desperate tacklers. A rabbit never dodged with more agility. He evaded the first Aggie and sped around the field until just as he was about to register the winning touchdown, the second Ames tackler hurled himself fully ten feet through the air and dashed the heroic “Pip” out of bounds.
The stands were in the most frightful uproar imaginable and the Nebraska rooters, to say nothing of King Cole, were actually crying for a score. With a quick lineup Sturznegger was shot through the center. When the pile was dissembled the ball was fund to be a few inches over the line and the game was won. The racket was indescribable, but Harvey kicked goal anyway.
Score, Nebraska 23, Ames 17.
The game lasted but three minutes longer and the ball was in the center of the field when it was closed. When the whistle shrilled the end of the great conflict the crowds swarmed on the field and Coach Cole and Captain Harvey engaged in a noisy but Platonic embrace, were borne aloft on the shoulders of the hysterical Cornhusker fans, while Governor Sheldon ran around like a school boy, congratulating the men who had brought the Missouri valley championship to Nebraska.
Nebraska is 86-17 all-time against Iowa State.
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