Nebraska 0
Pittsburgh 0

Nov. 17, 1928 • Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.

Huskers Appear Stale; Panthers Hold Upper Hand

Captain Edward Howell, Captain Elmer Holm, Charles Hushee, Dan McMullen, George Farley, Clair Sloan, Fay Russell, Ted James, Clifford Ashburn, Raymond Richards, Willard Witte, Glenn Munn, Clark McBride, Head Coach Ernest Bearg

Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb., Nov. 17—A merry gang of uppity, inconsiderate young men from Pittsburgh Saturday afternoon dredged up huge gobs of mud from the squashy floor of Nebraska’s football playground and heaved them at the proud Cornhusker battleshield until the latter half of the “undefeated and untied” slogan had been completely obliterated.

Pittsburgh nothing; just as much, no more, for Nebraska.

This result will not prove very profitable to the Panthers of Pittsburgh university, who were twice defeated in earlier games, but it toppled Nebraska from the exceedingly exclusive company of Carnegie Tech and Georgia Tech into a lower rank that bears some evidences of football aristocracy, but is none the less too well populated to be so very distinctive.

Hopes of National Title Go

There are a scorer so of leading elevens in the land that have been tied and now Ernest Bearg’s heedless young men composed one of them. “And there,” sighed the redoubtable Right Guard Dan’l McMullen as he clasped a hunk of mud from his punished countenance and tossed it through the steam of the dressing room, “and there go our hopes of a national championship.

“That,” continued Mr. McMullen, “that comes from playing the Army all week.”

”Stale; Just Stale”

Ernest Bearg and his assistants uttered in dismal unison a single word in which there was no note of alibi.

“Stale” gloomed they. “Just stale.”

“As stale as the crackers in a cross-roads grocery barrel,” supplemented rotund William Day, whose rotundity seemed to have shrunken. “They never had a chance and they seemed too dazed or weary or something to care.”

Dry Day Might Have Helped

A further consensus of the Nebraska coaching staff contained a note of gratitude for the rain and snow and mud that painted the green turf of the gridiron with an ever-thicker coating of gray-black as the hapless, unsatisfactory game churned through the 60 minutes.

A dry day, and the Nebraska team in the same careless, lazy indifferent run-down condition might have conspired to wreak damages far more costly than the scoreless stalemate.

As it was, the lighter, fast, alert Panther backs outplunged, outran and otherwise outplayed and dazed, plodding Cornhuskers, and the Panther forwards, also conceding many pounds to their mud-be-smeared Scarlet adversaries out-charged and out-tackled them by a wide and discouraging margin. And the Cornhuskers didn’t seem to care very much that they did.

Pittsburgh outgained Nebraska 175 yards to 52 yards. Pitt made eight first down, one of them from penalty, the other seven gloriously earned, and Nebraska failed to make a single one.

As things eventuated, Pitt’s advantage didn’t profit Pitt a thing, but Nebraska’s sorry showing certainly was not that which was justifiably expected of a team that until Saturday was prating of national supremacy.

Rejected Two Breaks

Two beautiful breaks, two alluring, seductive breaks offered themselves to the formerly dashing Scarlet battalion, but they seemed suddenly to have become jaded old roues who didn’t give a darn.

Pitt, on the other hand, for all its superior play, had but a single chance, and then—all praise to the young men of Mr. Bearg for those fleeting moments—the Nebraskans rallied and ruined it.

One of Nebraska’s chances came before Pitt’s sole opportunity. That was in the first quarter, when hopes still ran high, although the desultory manner in which the Huskers slouched onto the field for the inauguration of hostilities didn’t augru anything very redolent with whoopee.

It Squirted Away

Yet the Huskers did show a bit of pep and precision at the start. The game was not many minutes old when Quarterback Edwards flipped the already sodden ball from the Nebraska 44-yard line. The pass was intended for End Guarino, but Blue Howell got in its path. Blue seemed set for any easy catch. He gathered the ball unto his bosom. There was a field ahead, all the way to the Panther goal. But Blueboy must have embraced the gooey oval with too much enthusiasm. It squirted away and with it went that break for Pitt recovered possession.

Then Pitt got the opportunity to muff an opportunity. Pitt, being more alert and more spirited, needed Nebraska’s help to make the muff successful, and glory be:

Pitt got it.

Maybe Not Thinking

It was in the second quarter. Pitt took Witte’s bad punt on its own 48-yard line. On the first play Fullback Parkinson gained 20 yards because the Nebraska boys thought Pitt was going to do something other than it did—or maybe they were not thinking at all. Pitt was very successful throughout the afternoon at making Nebraska boys think it was going to do one thing and then very inconsiderately doing another.

Parkinson’s gallop put the ball on the Nebraska 32-yard line. Uansa chased around the Husker left end for four yards and Parkinson, for variety, slipped around the right end for the same distance. It looked bad, and even the Huskers realized it. They asked the referee for time to caucus. The apple rested in the ooze on the Nebraska 24-yard line. From there, Uansa carried it four yards closer to the counting line. Evidently the Husker plans didn’t work. Then Williams, that much sung Pitt halfback, rammed Mr. Munns tackle for seven yards and Halfback Uansa hit center for another yard.

Then the Huskers realized it was time to get stubborn. They did. Uansa essayed to score by passing and Dutch Witte knocked it down. Dutch had gone in for Clair Sloan a few minutes before. But there was still danger—plenty of it—for Nebraska took possession on its own 13-yard line. Direful things have happened to a team possessing a slippery ball on its own 13-yard line.

Ernest Bearg very wisely chased Claude Rowley into the halfback position manned by Witte. The ace of Cornhusker punters kicked 66 yards to the Pitt 21-yard line, but curses:

The beautiful boot was recalled and Nebraska penalized 12 yards for holding. Standing under the goal posts, at the end of the end zone, the game Rowley booted it again. It sailed 54 yards and the peril was past.

Bad Kicking by Both

Rowley and Sloan both pulled Nebraska out of the tight places with beautiful kicks, but mixed in with them were some pretty bum ones, too, for saddeningly short distances.

Pitt had its hard luck at kicking, too, and one of the foozled punts gave Nebraska the chance to spoil another attractive break.

In the third quarter Edwards tried to kick from his own 29-yard line. The slippery ball slid off his toe and bounded back to the 20-yard line. Center Ted James decided to try to down it. It slipped between his legs, and he made quite a curious spectacle as he tried to down his leg as Pitt recovered the ball to make the beautiful break go blooey. It would have been much better had Mr. James let the ball roll dead, or permitted a Panther to down it.

Huskers Stopped

And those, beloved, composed the scoring opportunities for both teams. Fullback Parkinson and Halfbacks Uansa and Williams made merry at times with quick opening plays that were good for long gains and reverse plays that had the Husker tacklers chasing themselves. But these always succeeded between the 25-yard lines.

The Husker backs were stopped pretty consistently by the Panther seven-man line. Howell couldn’t get loose. Rowley and Sloan did pretty well at running the ends, but once they found they could do it they quit, for reasons not revealed. A Husker assistant coach wondered why Nebraska didn’t try one pass at least. The fact that Pitt tried seven and all failed was no argument, he said, that Nebraska flips would foozle. The Pitt defense, in his opinion, was “set up” for the execution of forward passes by Nebraska.

Another Husker assistant made a post mortem recommendation that the reserves should have been used. He declared they were in much better mental condition than the first string.

McMullen Knew It

There was one grand old veteran, however, who realized what was coming, and who, unlike his mates, was prepared. This is Daniel McMullen, guard incomparable, who made that remark about Nebraska having played the Army all week. How Daniel tore in.

How he nailed them, if they came in his vicinity.

Here, beloved, is one young man, a devotee of slavic literature by the way, who never can be accused of over-confidence or staleness or any other of those bugaboos that beset teams that have been consistently successful.

”Take It Out on Army”

But Dan’s mates were stale. They agreed, after the game, and so did their coaches, that they were hopelessly, and probably unavoidably, stale.

Nebraska, said still another pedagogue, was lucky to tie. Yes, probably. Nebraska has taken ‘em too many and too tough this season. Not a breathing spell. You can’t blame the young men very much, nor their coaches, especially when they promise to “take it out on the Army.”

More coverage

World-Herald post-game coverage (PDF)

Series history

Nebraska is 6-15 all-time against Pittsburgh.

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1928 season (7-1-1)

Iowa State Oct. 6
Montana State Oct. 13
Syracuse Oct. 20
Missouri Oct. 27
Kansas Nov. 3
Oklahoma Nov. 10
Pittsburgh Nov. 17
Army Nov. 24
Kansas State Nov. 29

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