Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb., Nov. 24—Under the chill blue sky of a bright November day, the wild horsemen of the Scarlet made their last memorable gallop together.
In years to come, those 31 thousand who roared and shrilled and whooped themselves into painful but happy hoarseness in Memorial Stadium this Thanksgiving afternoon still will thrill as they tell and retell how Glenn Presnell and Blue Howell, under the generalship of cool and crafty John Brown, made their farewell triumphant charges as the pair before whom all foemen crumbled and fled.
They will live again those high moments that marked the entrance into a terrific combat of new gridders, untried in such a Spartan struggle as the Violet and Scarlet waged; those breathless moments when the recruits Sloan and Farley and McBride, mingling with the wearied, passing veterans, stemmed the desperate, dangerous onslaught of a New York eleven that never acknowledged defeat, and added enough points to Nebraska’s precarious margin to make it safe, finally to give Nebraska victory by 21 points to 18.
Second Victory Over Violet
Brilliant chapters in Cornhusker gridiron history are those victories over the Notre Dame elevens of 1922 and 1923, but they relate nothing of the heroic, nothing of the invincible, nothing of the brilliant and immense that was not equaled, and even surpassed, by Ernest Bearg’s boys who Thursday, for the second time in two seasons, overpowered and after a mighty contest completely subjugated the haughty Violet of New York. Twice the purple-clad men of Charles Meehan have come trooping westward over the Alleghenies and across the prairies of the midlands, boastings of records unsullied by defeat, talking confidently of the highest national honors, speaking lightly and more confidently of vanquishing the Scarlet foemen who were to face them in their final battle.
And twice they have been overwhelmed, twice they have been ridden down by the powerful, pounding battalion in the blazing red of Cornhuskerland.
One year ago, New York and Nebraska fought through ice and snow and an arctic blast, full 60 minutes of grueling gridfare and the outcome was in doubt until the very end.
Last Game for Many
Thursday John Brown led his warriors through the little green door from the steamy dressing room beneath the stadium for the last time. At a trot they came, single file, while the band blared the triumph song of the Cornhusker and the stands rocked with a thundering salute from 31 thousand throats. At a trot, they came, the last colorful entrance into the arena for Brown, Presnell, Oehlrich, Lawson, Lee, Randels and eight others who for three years had waged arduous and bitter, trying and triumphant, campaigns.
They were ready. They knew the mettle of the foe to face them but they were ready.
For two quarters the wild horsemen rode rampant, crushing down the Violet defense and trampling it beneath their feet. It recalled the rout of Syracuse just a few weeks before. The vaunted violence of the Violet seemed as much a meaningless tale as the terrible effectiveness of Syracuse through the air.
Nebraska had scored 19 points, seemed to have victory safely in its possession, safely and to the credit of Presnell and Howell and a line that was invulnerable from end to end, before New York broke loose with Connor and Briante and Barrabee.
How those thousands who are loyal to the Scarlet and the Goldenrod must have suffered throughout that dazzling but tormenting third period and the beginning of that fourth, until Connors’ safety had increased the Nebraska lead by two points and James’ recovery of Howell’s fumble at the goal to go across had made the difference too great for the storming Violets to overcome in the painful minutes that remained.
But it was suffering that made the thrill of victory surge higher when the timer’s gun finally cracked; suffering that made triumph sweeter because of the realization that triumph was gained over the cleverest, most tenacious foe to engage the Cornhuskers at home for many a season.
Those three touchdowns, one by Briante, one by Connors and one by Barrabee, finally went for naught, but during a rip-roaring last half that will live forever in the minds of those who saw they were dangerous, dangerous, increasingly dangerous until Howell, assisted by the battering, twisting Boy Sloan had put the ball where the ever vigilant James was able to snatch it when Howell bobbled, and charged across the goal line for the points that were needed to make safe the lead amassed in the first two periods by Lawson and Glenn Presnell.
To relate the thrilling plays that scored and the other thrilling plays that failed to score would be to duplicate the detailed account of the contest, which appears elsewhere in this paper. The game was full of them. It was one brilliant strategy, one tremendous charge after another. There was the boom, boom, boom of the Cornhusker heavy artillery slowly but surely pushing toward the Violet goal.
Beginning Was Great
There was the portentous pound of the horsemen’s hoofs and they swept forward with irresistible momentum. There were the rocket-like flashes of Jack O’Connor, captain of the invaders, which almost always ended deeper and deeper in Nebraska territory. There were those electrifying passes from Connor in the late moments of the third period and all through the fourth, one of which scored, cutting the Nebraska lead to almost nothing at all.
Out of all this fiery maneuvering, brute-like battering and circus aviation finally came victory to rest on the Scarlet standard, after victory had hovered there when the battle was half-spent, and then had flown away.
It began so beautifully for the Cornhuskers and their loyal host. An exchange of punts several times in the first quarter, and then Howell and Presnell were off, the latter early passing the record of 1,260 yards gained in a season by Red Grange. Howell and Presnell rammed the center, slipped through tackle, skirted the ends for five, eight, 10 yards at a time. Then with the ball on the two-yard line and fourth down, Howell was able to make but half the distance. New York took the ball.
Vint Scored First One
Strong, New York back, stood in his end zone, ready to punt. The ball was snapped by Dunn, Violet center. A scarlet wave swept over the Violet line. Out of it shot James, Cornhusker center. James blocked the kick in the end zone and Vint Lawson, battling Vint, fell on it. That was Nebraska’s first touchdown. Howell’s placement for the extra point was low. Then came a play that was outstanding on this day but not so outstanding as such plays usually are. After the touchdown Richards kicked off, but New York, unable to pierce the Scarlet wall, soon punted.
Strong’s kick rolled 52 yards dead on the Nebraska 16-yard line. On the first play, Presnell cut between the Violet right tackle and end, shook off the secondary, and the Briante chasing him began a gallop down the field that brought the throng to its feet. Briante pulled Presnell down on the Violet one-yard line, after the great Cornhusker had dodged and twisted and driven 83 yards. A marvelous run, but there were so many marvelous things on this day. On the next play Presnell pried through center for the second Nebraska touchdown. Howell’s kick again was a failure and the score was 12 to 0.
Penalty No Handicap
A 15-yard penalty for holding at the very start of the second quarter failed to stop Presnell. Strong punted again from behind his goal at the start of the period, Presnell returning his 60-yard boot to midfield. Two passes, one from Presnell to Oehlrich, the other from Presnell to Lee, put behind 23 and 14 yards of Violet territory. The penalty came just before the 14-yard pass. The pass evened that handicap and after Howell had carried the ball four yards from the Violet 15-yard line, Presnell swung around right end for the third touchdown. Jug Brown dropkicked goal and it looked safe for Nebraska.
Then New York began. New York took Richards’ kickoff and with Connor doing most of the gaining and Briante showing flashes of the power that made him the east’s leading ground gainer, shoved the Husker defense, in which were several substitutes, backward and backward. Finally with the goal a yard away, Briante went over. Strong’s try for the extra point failed, and the half ended, 19 to 6.
New York Just Started
But New York had just started. Nebraska received Strong’s kickoff at the start of the second half but soon punted. The ball was downed on the New York 31-yard line. The Violet began a march that carried them 70 yards over the Nebraska goal. Connor, with his brilliant dashes, his cut backs and reversals, did most of it. It was Connor who went across. Lee blocked Strong’s kick and the score was 19 to 12. Dan McMullen, hurt, went out. Raish took his place. Then Presnell limped from the field and the boy Sloan was in there, to sub for an incomparable Presnell, with 31 thousand roaring maniacs looking on. The boy Sloan did. There was no more scoring in the third quarter. The Nebraska lineup gradually was filled with sophomores, with McBride and Farley and others who have their greatest days ahead. The kids held.
At the start of the fourth quarter, however, on the very second play, Connor passed to Barrabee, Violet end. Pass and run were good for 57 yards and a touchdown. Strong’s kick failed. But it was 19 to 18. But one point apart. Dangerous. And New York going great.
Something had to be done, and the kids, aided by the iron-bodied Howell, who wouldn’t tire, did it.
They made three offensives that last quarter. Sloan’s 50 and 55-yard punts helped the Huskers get more favorable positions. Sloan bore half the ball-carrying burden with Howell.
Safety Adds Two
The first march goalward, with Sloan, then Howell, tearing through for great yardage every time, was halted and Brown was forced to pass into the end zone on the fourth down. But Sloan and Howell soon had them down there again. Again a pass grounded on the New York five-yard line. It was New York’s ball. Connor, punting for New York, made ready to receive in his end zone. He fumbled and was downed behind his goal for a safety, and the score was 21 to 18. That made it better, but the Violet were still dangerous.
New York made a free kick from its 20-yard line after the safety, Brown returned 24 yards through a broken field to the Violet 46-yard line. Sloan ripped through for 12 yards, Howell for four. Sloan passed to Lee. Lee was hit by a New York player and the pass was called good for a 12-yard gain. From the Violet 13-yard line Sloan and Howell battered to the one-yard line. Howell then plunged, fumbled on the goal line, and Ted James recovered and went over. The kick failed but things were safe now. It was 27 to 18.
The game ended with New York completing pass after pass. The final gun barked as Connor’s pass was grounded in the Husker end zone. It was not dangerous. No one was there.