Nebraska 20
Notre Dame 19

Oct. 23, 1915 • Lincoln, Neb.

“It Was Too Much Chamberlain,” Said Coach Harper


The Cornhusker Captain - Dick Rutherford


Cornhuskers Battled Hard by Notre Dame, but Finally Win

Hoosiers’ Failure to Kick a Goal Gives Nebraska a 20 to 19 Game – Stiehmrollers Show Ability to “Come Back” and Regain Lost Advantage

Lincoln, Neb., Oct. 23 – Outweighed to a certainty and outplayed in many departments of the game, Nebraska University’s big football team defeated today the formidable Notre Dame crew by the markable score of 20 to 19.

Because Quarterback Caley refused to open up the play, choosing rather to buck the impregnable Catholic line during most of the playing moments, is the reason that the score was not much larger for the Cornhuskers and much smaller for the South Bend boys.

Chamberlain, the big Nebraska left end, was the whole show for the Lincolnites, scoring two of their touchdowns against open fields that seemed impossible of penetration. His defensive stunts bordered upon the miraculous while his open field running, in which he displayed that famous “side walk trot” to the best of advantage, brought victory to the colors of the Cornhuskers.

Today’s victory means that Nebraska is once again firmly placed upon the football map. That the score was not much larger for the Cornhuskers and much smaller for the South Benders is altogether the fault of Quarterback Caley, or whoever instructed him, in not calling for more open plays and forward passes.

Nebraska’s line was grievously weak and that of Notre Dame notably strong. At least, that was the way it appeared to the populace, which numbered over 8,000 in the stadium, the biggest crowd of paid admissions ever recorded, according to Manager Guy Reed.

From the moment of the kickoff it seemed that Notre Dame would likely humble the Nebraska colors, for their line looked like a row of freight cars and their secondary defense was as fast as the United States mail. When upon the offensive play they had the most perfect interference ever seen on Nebraska Field and when defending their own colors they broke up play after play for Quarterback Caley, who could not seem to gather the thought into his bosom that the South Bend line was a thing of bulk and brawn, and not to be tampered with.

The only scores made by Nebraska, fortunately enough, came as a result of open plays, an indulgence but infrequently granted by Quarterback Caley. Chamberlain was the mainstay in defense and built himself an everlasting glory in his attack, his lumbering speed completely baffling the Notre Dame Crew on more than one occasion.

No sooner had Notre Dame kicked off to Nebraska than it became very apparent that there was to be a game of football down yonder. The Jesuits simply drilled by Nebraska’s coach and in less than five minutes of actual play, the agile Mister Cofall passed the pigskin to Bergman on a subtle crisscross for a twenty-yard run and a touchdown. Fortunately, as later developed, Stephan missed goal.

On the second play in the second period, Chamberlain tucked the oval to his aching heart and sauntered around left for a touchdown. He had grand interference during his sojourn, the Notre Damers for once being unable to deal with the Nebraska line. The ball being planted squarely between the posts, Corey had little difficulty in booting the goal. This left the score, 7 to 6, in favor of Nebraska.

After a short but gruesome series of adventures, following the kickoff, during which those who had bet large amounts of wampum on the Cornhuskers were busy in ruing the day they were born. Fitzgerald blocked a punt by Otopalik and afterward recovered the ball. Bachman did a lot of naughty little things to Nebraska’s line and Cofall, after a campaign of preparedness, gouged through right tackle for a touchdown, Stephan kicking the goal and leaving the score, at the end of the first half, Notre Dame, 13; Nebraska 7.

At the start of the third period, O’Donnell kicked off to Caley, who fumbled, but recovered. When Otopalik was finally forced to punt, Notre Dame’s speed boys, Bergman and Cofall, did all sorts of things around the ends and through the tackles, but Chamberlain was fortunately on the job and succeeded in running down these sprinters from behind on more than one occasion. Finally the visitors fumbled and Nebraska got the ball.

It was then that Quarterback Caley decided to open up a little, and Chamberlain began to circle the ends. A few more line bucks were interspersed for good measure, and Otopalik was forced to punt. The Nebraska defense held, and Cofall punted to center.

Corey made a forward pass to Chamberlain for twenty yards and Chamberlain, upon the next play, promptly made the pass to Caley for fifteen yards. Then Chamberlain, in one of the crookedest and twistiest and most remarkable runs of the game, screwed around right end for a touchdown, without a particle of interference. Otopalik kicked out to Caley, but Corey missed goal. This left the score even at 13 to 2.

Thus it is seen that these three plays – open plays – made Nebraska touchdown in but a jiffy. The lesson should have been learned before by the quarterback – but even with this active demonstration of what could be done had no influence upon the Cornhusker generalship. The Nebraska coach stood near the sidelines and watched the Notre Dame line throw Rutherford and Gardiner and Reese and even the mighty Otopalik back for losses and still failed to command Caley to call for the open play always so signally successful.

Chamberlain, like the warriors in the “Charge of the Light Brigade,” vainly hurled himself time after time against the human ice wagons of the foe, often to gain a yard or two, but generally to gain nothing of real advantage. When it came to straight football the Notre Dame boys, sportsmen and heavyweights through and through, played like demons in both departments of the game, but when Nebraska opened up they were bewildered and this bewilderment took a long time in sinking into the minds of the men who bossed the Cornhuskers.

At this juncture Caley risked another forward pass. It was a good risk. Chamberlain heaved the pigskin with his left hand twenty-five yards to Reese, who struggled a ways before being obliterated and Caley then heaved one to Riddell, who wormed around for a touchdown, thus making amends for a noticeable weakness in his end of the line. Otopalik kicked out to Chamberlain and Corey kicked goal, making the score, Nebraska 20, Notre Dame 13.

After the kickoff, Bergman pranced around left end for twenty yards, behind nifty interference. Notre Dame tried a couple of forward passes, which were incomplete, and then upon the third pass Chamberlain hopped up into the air and grabbed the ball as it came from Phelan. Upon the next play Nebraska tried a pass and Phelan intercepted it, as if evening up the grudge.

This last pass called for by Quarterback Caley was the supreme evidence of mighty poor football judgment, and the Cornhusker coach, with all his faults upon his head, let no time fly before he told Caley so.

There was but a moment or so of playing time remaining upon the football calendar, and Nebraska leading, 20 to 13, yet Caley called for a forward pass when “safety first” could be the only idea at that time. But when ordinary football plays were in order, the quarterback called for a pass and nearly tied the game.

After Phelan had intercepted this pass he tried once on his own book, the ball going to Cofall for twenty-five yards. Bergman sailed around left, behind that trusty old Notre Dame interference, to Nebraska’s ten-yard line, and ten lugged the leather around left for a touchdown. Cofall kicked out to Phelan.

Back in South Bend, Ind., there are a lot of sad hearts, no doubt, but the saddest of all was in Lincoln tonight, in the bosom of Jim Miller, a second string man, but a very clever gentleman with his foot.
Captain Fitzgerald at the critical point made a big mistake, evening up for so many mistakes made by the Nebraska coaches and the Cornhusker quarterback. He figured that he only needed to have this goal kicked to tie the score, with but a second or two to play, and so he yelled for Miller to take the Mighty Cofall’s place and to boot the goal.

Not having been in the game at all and being “cold,” as far as practice was concerned, Mister Miller very justifiably missed. He watched the ball on its fatal flight and then hurled his headgear to the trampled earth. He had lost the game for his school and the score stood, Nebraska 20, Notre Dame 19, as at the finish just after the kickoff a few seconds later.

After the big battle was over and the dust had cleared away, Coach Harper of Notre Dame was asked an expression of opinion on the game. He scratched his head for a moment and then grinned:
“It was a case of too much Chamberlain.”

The Nebraska coaches contented themselves with saying that they were glad to win and that the game had been of great educational benefit to their yearlings as well as the first string men.
Walter Eckersall, who bossed the big affair as referee, and who made a mighty good job of it, by the way, said that “I have seen the strongest teams in the middle west play – Illinois, Chicago, Wisconsin and Minnesota – and Nebraska is as strong as any of them.”

Looking back upon this game, which was won by merit alone, against a strong team, there is much food for thought. What was the reason that Captain Rutherford was so little heard from? Very seldom he carried the ball and he was never in prominence. Is it possible that this gamest of all game Cornhuskers is really in distress of some kind?

Looking back upon the game it was remarkable in more ways than one, for it was played under a positively torrid sun and a breathless atmosphere. The spectacle of men in shirtsleeves trying to cheer a line buck is “new stuff” at Lincoln.

Manager Guy Reed says that the crowd at Nebraska field today was the biggest in its history, and at least 2,000 of the number were from Omaha. One of the big improvements in the south grandstand is the new press box, which is sumptuously equipped.

None of the Nebraska players was badly hurt in today’s battle and next Saturday the Cornhuskers meet the Ames Aggies at Ames, Ia.

More coverage

World-Herald post-game coverage (PDF)


Series history

Nebraska is 8-7 all-time against Notre Dame.

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1915 season (8-0)

Drake Oct. 2
Kansas State Oct. 9
Washburn Oct. 16
Notre Dame Oct. 23
Iowa State Oct. 30
Nebraska Wesleyan Nov. 6
Kansas Nov. 13
Iowa Nov. 20

This day in history

Nebraska has played 17 games on Oct. 23. See them all »

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