Stadium, University of Washington, Seattle, Wash., Nov. 25 — A magnificent Purple and Gold eleven, despised and berated into a fierce desperation by a one-time loyal host. Thursday afternoon finished triumphantly a great adventure begun on a distant Nebraska field one year ago. Washington defeated the Cornhuskers, 10 to 6, but the frenzied acclaim of the vast multitude paid honor to a Scarlet-armored eleven that refused to quit, that battled with a desperation which caused hoarse, admiring veteran observers of many decades of football campaigns to say in trembling voices that they never had witnessed its equal.
The terrific struggle marked the passing for every of 10 Nebraskans who fought with the valiant, reckless spirit of brave men who knew that here is their last chance for glory and risked their all to achieve it. Tremendous was their play, but more brilliant, more thrilling, dazzling even above Washington’s victory in the eyes of the very citizens of the Husky realm, was the fierce attack, the alternating knife-like thrusts and mad bull rushes of a boy who had no part in last year’s 6-score tie on the Nebraska field, who was dominated only by the traditional Scarlet will to win and his own great fighting heart.
Edward Howell is this young warrior’s name, and for four seasons he was the darling and the hero of the hilltop that is Omaha Central’s own. Edward Howell, but they have always called him Blue Jeans – ever since the day when as a 4-year-old kid he mistook a workman’s overalls for football armor and demanded that he be encased in a pair.
For four pulse-pounding, breathtaking, torturing periods, until the timer’s gun with cruel finality ended a 77-yard drive on the Washington three-yard line, Battling Blue Jeans led the inspired, ruthless attack of 10 writhy mates and himself bore the brunt of an earlier sustained attack that lacked but a single point of tying the score. But pitted against these Scarlet demons were men as desperate, men who fought with a valiancy and determination borne of the insults and jibes of their own people.
Battling Blue Jeans and his fierce horde could not prevent the score that came from a long perfect pass, Tesreau to Guttormsen. Nor could they check the gracefully arched course of Cook’s place-kick that made safer the Husky margin.
But strive they did, to the very end; to an end that held the most thrilling yet tragic climax wrought by a Cornhusker eleven in many a glorious campaign.
Perhaps the result stands as it does because fortune turned her head when Presnell fumbled and Washington recovered in the second quarter to end a Husker attack that seemed certain to profit. Perhaps this is the reason that the Cornhuskers lost although they out-downed the Purple horde 16 to 1 and gained a total of 242 yards to their foe’s 193.
If this be the reason let no rebukes be directed at the game, blonde boy from DeWitt; he fought a noble fight at Howell’s side. He shared with the berserk plunger the credit for those drives that carried the Husker front forward, forward, on and on, nearer and nearer to the Husky goal, once to triumph and at least three times more to failure, the last time by the heartbreaking distance of three short yards, when the pistol barked the end as the Washington wall repelled Howell on the fourth down with the ghost line the objective destined to be sought in vain.
Bobby Stephens, cool and game little Scarlet general, again demonstrated his cunning in this, the last college football he ever will play. Bobby knew that Nebraska’s hopes lay in line smashing attack, and he directed the assaults with the judgment of a military strategist.
There are those who hold that Bobby should not have attempted that place kick from the Washington 30-yard line when three more yards would have given the Huskers another first down and the chance for a touchdown in the opening quarter. But it was fourth down. Bobby knew the great strain already placed upon his chargers and the crueler strain that was certain to come. He had made more difficult placements all during the season, but this one failed.
There were times when the Cornhusker line bent and teetered precariously, but these were times when scoring by the touchdown was impossible. When their backs almost pushed their own goal, the Husker wall stiffened, became impregnable. It was Cook’s toe and that perfect pass that carried defeat.
Crippled and bruised, Captain Lonnie Stiner witnessed the passing of his command from the sidelines. A criss-cross play that advanced the Cornhusker scrimmage line 10 yards also lost the Scarlet ensign its leader in the second period. From then on it was Howell around whom the Nebraskans rallied. Howell, the sophomore kid with two more seasons to play. What seasons they will be! Nebraska’s first futile scoring attempt came before the Huskies ever had the opportunity to test their offensive against the Scarlet line.
James received Shaw’s kickoff and ran it back to the 30-yard mark. From there Howell and Presnell began a series of off-tackle thrusts and terrific drives at center which with Stephens’ 10-yard advantage made on an end run placed the ball on the Washington 25-yard line. The Purple student section was silent. No backs ever had crushed and crumpled a Husky wall as Presnell did. But at this point the Purple wall held thrice for short gains.
Then Bobby, with the cross bars 80 yards away, attempted a place-kick. The ball went wide and Washington gained possession on its 20-yard line. The Huskies started. Plunges by formidable Patton and squat, tough Tesreau worked the ball well down the field, until the Nebraska goal was dangerously close. Here the Huskers held, but Guttormsen, crafty Purple quarter, called for a pass that the Huskers couldn’t check until 25 yards had been taken from them. An end run by Tesreau and a plunge by Patton put the line of scrimmage 23 yards from the Husker goal with four downs allotted to the Huskies.
The Nebraska line was too stubborn. Guttormsen called for another pass and ran wide to the sidelines to receive it himself. Tesreau hurled it. No Nebraskan was near. Guttormsen trotted across the goal. Shaw made the try for point with a place kick.
At the start of the second quarter the Cornhuskers began a series of dazzling complicated criss-crosses and triple passes behind the line which worked Oehlrich into the Howell-Presnell combination.
Washington was swept back, back, ever back as first down after first down was credited to the Nebraskans. Then Presnell fumbled on a plunge and Tesreau recovered on his 25-yard line. It was the only fumble of the game. It checked the great advance that seemed certain to end with a score, it cost untold exertion that went for naught. But it did not enable the desperate Purple to stop their relentless foeman for long.
The Huskies couldn’t gain after taking the ball so Tesreau punted to Stephens. Little Bobby twisted and turned through a broken field to return the ball 18 yards to the Nebraska 46-yard line. John Brown was shot into the fray and weary Presnell withdrawn. Brown’s attempts to get loose were choked, so Stephens was forced to call Howell, Howell, Howell.
Only when Bobby passed twice and when Brown completed the three yards necessary for a first down was there surcease from the command that sent Boy Blue furiously battering against a bewildered Husky line that inevitably yielded. Oehlrich snagged one pass that helped by nine yards. Lee took another one 11 yards ahead. But all the rest was Howell — Howell hugging the ball close, lowering his head and charging, diving, ripping, pushing until it was needless to assail his adversaries more. On the last high drive Howell ripped the Huskies center wide open and shot four yards. But Bobby Stephens missed the goal and the score was 7 to 6.
Nebraska kicked off following their touchdown and the Huskies did not relinquish possession until Tesreau, Guttormsen and Carroll had slithered and smashed their way to the Nebraska 20-yard line. Cook, a poor lineman but deadly placekicker, had been rushed into the fray and his assignment was successfully completed.
The Nebraska line, at this juncture especially, revealed its inexperience. Guttormsen found an opening over right tackle and streaked ahead 17 yards. Carroll and Patton dented the center for gains that enabled them to keep the ball. But on their own 15-yard line the Cornhuskers stiffened. Only a minute must elapse and the half would end. Haste was essential and blustering Enoch Bagshaw, Husky coach, knew it.
Onto the field trotted Cook, the poor guard, but deadly placekicker. Cook was all set to boot from the 15-yard line when in stepped the referee and slapped a 15-yard penalty on the Huskies because Cook violated the rule forbidding a substitute to talk until a play has been made.
It made no difference to Cook, who during the past season had booted, without faltering, goals far more difficult than this. From Nebraska’s 30-yard line he did just as well and with as little effort as would probably have been evident from the 15-yard line. Cook next kicked off and two plays had netted Nebraska fair gains when half time expired.
This was destined to be the final score of the game, and all through the third period neither team threatened seriously. During this quarter, fierce battle was waged by both elevens, but ineffectually. Presnell time and again slid away for gains that probably gave him a better net average than Howell.
Through the enemy front Tesreau, Patton and Guttormsen came rushing with fierce velocity that rent the Nebraska forwards, then trampled them. The Nebraska secondary defense saved the day.
Out of the hands of Guttormsen and Tesreau shot passes with tremendous velocity but there was no consistency, either in Husky or Husker attack.
The final period opened with Stephens punting out of bounds on the Washington 34-yard line. The Huskies began a march that carried them to the Husker 32-yard boundary but there the Huskers braced and a kick seemed the only way out. Many minutes of play remained, however, so Blustering Enoch Bradshaw did not dare risk Mr. Cook, who is a poor guard but a great placekicker. He left it to Guttormsen who did the best he could; he ordered Shaw to go back. Shaw tried a goal from the Nebraska 35-yard line that looked like the effort of the substitute quarter of a Y.M.C.A. dormitory eleven.
The ball was brought out to the 20-yard line and given to the Huskers. Washington never experienced the feel of it afterward.
A play by play account, reciting only the mechanical happenings, best illustrates this brilliant, fierce attack of Blue Howell, which dominated other plays that included several successful passes.
From the 20-yard line, where Nebraska got possession on the touchback after the goal that failed, to the Washington three-yard line, Howell bore the burden of an attack seldom matched on any field of football warfare.
Presnell hit center for a yard, Howell crashed the same spot for two. Howell ran through left tackle for seven yards and a first down.
Presnell ran left end for a yard. A pass, Bronson to Beck, netted four yards. Bronson had gone in a moment before for Stephens and Beck had replaced Oehlrich.
Howell smashed center and his tremendous momentum carried him to the Nebraska 48-yard line before four Huskies checked him.
Bronson squeezed between center and guard for a yard. Presnell went off right tackle and forced a gang of Huskies to midfield before they downed him. Howell ran the left side for seven yards. Howell made it another first down. Bronson passed to Beck who advanced two yards. Howell charged over center for a yard. Howell hit the same spot for six. Howell made it first down on the Husky 34-yard line.
Bronson again passed to Beck for two more. Howell smashed center for five more. It was fourth down and three to go. Bronson showed nerve by passing to Beck again and Beck ran to the Husky 21-yard line.
Howell plunged for four yards. Howell passed to Mielenz who was downed on the Husky six-yard line. Grim, determined, desperate, the Huskies stiffened and their experience told. A minute to play. A minute to play. Howell charged and was repelled by an unyielding human rampart. Howell hit center for a yard. Thirty seconds to play. A din that deafened swept over the field.
Shouts of encouragement for the Cornhuskers drowned the pleas of the Husky student section to “Hold ‘em Huskies!”
But the Huskies, desperate and determined to vindicate themselves in the eyes of their own people who had turned against them because of two defeats, needed not the encouragement of their fellow students.
Again Howell charged. A tense hush as player after player disentangled himself from a Purple and Scarlet heap. The referee reached for the ball. The mass opened, and the stands roared as it saw that Howell has made two yards.
Three yards to go, three seconds to play. Tortured, breathless, 25 thousand persons stood tense and silent.
The Huskers huddled. They leaped into scrimmage formation. Eager linemen came tumbling through from both teams. Both teams offside. Try it again. The huddle, the snap into charging positions. Howell waited, still as a statue. The ball was snapped and Howell leaped forward, but from the right side of the line a mass of Purple came pouring through. Howell was checked for no gain. The bark of the pistol was drowned in the demonstration of excited humans. But they saw the smoke.
Nebraska is 5-4 all-time against Washington.
|Washington (Mo.)||Oct. 16|
|Iowa State||Oct. 30|
|Kansas State||Nov. 13|
|New York U.||Nov. 20|
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