Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb., Nov. 29—The valiant Cornhuskers battled through a driving snowstorm and numbing north wind Thursday afternoon to salvage by their 8-to-0 victory over the starved Wildcats of Kansas State some consoling bits of provincial success from the sorrowful wreckage of their once promising dreams of national prestige.
Nebraska is undisputed champion of the Big Six conference in the first year of the loop’s existence. Kansas State, beaten by every member school, is forced to accept the not-at-all desired booby prize.
Although the season’s records of other member teams indicate plainly that the Nebraskan’s five consecutive conference victories were achieved over the weakest foemen to represent Big Six schools in several years, the pre-eminence is none the less crammed with satisfaction for it is the first clear football championship to be possessed by a Scarlet-armored eleven since 1923.
Nebraska’s Hardest Loop Foe
Scores of their previous ill-fated encounters would see to rank the Wildcats as the weakest conference team, yet they gave the Nebraskans their hardest argument.
Perhaps it was the near blizzard that raged with increased intensity as the combat progressed which reduced one relative abilities of the elevens to a nearly common level.
Perhaps it was the shaken morale of the Cornhuskers and the high pitched state of the Kansans. For them victory would have swept away all the bitter reverses of the rest of the season, for the Wildcats have never triumphed over the Nebraskans.
Not Same Since Pitt
It seemed to be no secret in Lincoln that the spirit of the Nebraska lads was at a discouraging, and even ominous ebb. Just why, none knew, or at least none would reveal, but the Cornhuskers, it was repeatedly said, haven’t been the same since the sad affair with Pittsburgh.
But if they had been deep in despondency, reflecting possibly over what might have been had their incomparable man-power been directed differently against Pit and the Army, they rallied in the afternoon. They became almost as stormy as the snow-vomiting north gale itself. And out of the howling wind they snatched victory.
Victory came in the first quarter accelerated by the magnificent punting toe and passing arm of Sophomore Claude Rowley. Lyon, the Wildcat tackle who is yanked behind the line to kick, could not cope with the combined opposition of the north wind and the brilliant Cornhusker halfback. In fact, in later periods, when the wind was his ally, he even then was unable to match the singing spirals of this brave recruit.
Huskers Get Early Break
Tackwell, Wildcat guard, kicked off while the nine thousand who shivered beneath the scant protection of the stadium balconies endeavored vainly to whoop their valedictory to the 1928 football season into the howling wind.
An unsatisfactory plunge or two and then Rowley punted 60 yards over the Wildcat goal. On the first play Swartz, Kansas fullback, fumbled and Quarterback Reb Russell recovered on the Aggie 22-yard line.
This early advantage flopped, however, when Ashburn, receiving Rowley’s pass in the end zone, dropped the ball after he seemingly had snared it in long arms stretched above his head.
Ashburn Runs Over
The Aggies couldn’t accomplish anything at ball lugging a few plays later Rowley had them in an even worse hole by punting out of bounds on their own four-yard line. Lyon nervously essayed to kick out of danger, while standing deep in the snow that filled his end zone. Nebraska got the bad boot on the Aggie 21-yard line. This time Ashburn didn’t fall when Rowley sent the ball toward him, riding the blinding barrage of snow. Tall Cliff grabbed the 20-yard heave and stepped about three paces over the goal. Howell’s place kick was blocked by Tackwell.
Nebraska’s additional two points came in the last quarter, after both teams had been within scoring distance several times and failed. Lyon’s poor punt plopped dead in the snow on the plow jockey’s own 34-yard line. On the first play Sloan passed to Fisher, who had been substituted for Morgan at end, and the heave gave Nebraska a first down on the Aggie 17-yard line. Fisher desperately and gamely fought two Farmers to snag that heave. Then Blue Howell began his last drive for his last collegiate touchdown. Big Blueboy ran the ends and smashed center until he had shoved the foemen back to their own three-yard line. It looked like a certain touchdown. Five freezing yards he traveled, pulling three Aggie tacklers with him to put the ball on that three-yard line.
Smother Lyon for Safety
Then on the next play he fumbled, and the men of McMillin swarmed into the snow to cover the ball. Nigro, halfback, finally was excavated, frozen to the ball.
But Mr. Nigro had put Punter Lyon in an awful fix. Lyon stood precarious inches from the end line as he signaled for the pass from center. The icy ball cut the whitened atmosphere. Just as Lyon received it, the entire Cornhusker backfield broke through and spilled him in his end zone. A safety and two points instead of that touchdown for which good old Blue had striven so valiantly, but those two points assured the Nebraskans victory.
The beaten Wildcats out-downed and out-yarded the Huskers, both by rushing and by passing. They made six first downs, five of them earned, to Nebraska’s four and were credited with 61 yards from rushing and 60 from passing to 58 and 40 for the Nebraskans.
Nebraska lost 30 yards to the Wildcats’ 16 in attempts to carry the ball.
Kags Threaten Twice
But touchdowns—and safeties—and not first downs win football games. Knowing this the Wildcats never stopped. They were within threatening distance two times, but they only threatened. Once in the first quarter Nigro passed to Anderson, who advanced the ball to the Nebraska 17-yard line. But 17 yards is a great distance when one must fight the elements too. The eager Aggies fumbled and that ended the first threat.
In the second quarter Guard Bauman blocked Sloan’s punt on the Nebraska 12-yard line. Then he fell on it. Plunges by Nigro and Swartz put the ball on the Husker six-yard line and things looked black indeed despite the prevalence of white in the landscape. But Nigro endeavored to pass, without looking around for a receiver. The heave was grounded and threat No. 2 was satisfactorily piffled away.
McBride Runs 50 Yards
Besides Rowley’s punting, the most spectacular performance of the frigid afternoon was Buddy McBride’s 50-yard run which ended out of bounds on the Wildcat 20-yard line just as the pistol sounded the end of the half. Buddy, substituted for Howell in the second quarter, snagged an Aggie pass within the boundaries of the Nebraska arctic circle and, eluding a swarm of desperate tacklers who looked like animated snow men, chased himself toward the Aggie goal. The Aggie secondary ran him out of bounds.
The game marked the end of the careers of Co-Captains Holm and Howell, guard and fullback, respectively; Center Ted James, End Cliff Ashburn, Guard Dan McMullen and Reserve Linemen Merle Zuver, Roy Lucas and Walter Drath.
McMullen in Hero Rule
Dan McMullen, Nebraska’s sole candidate for all-American honors, who has demonstrated his intense love for football over three personally glorious seasons, asked that he be removed from the game at the end of the first half so that Bill Gallaway, a sophomore reserve guard, could play enough time to earn his letter.
Zuver closed his career as a casualty. Substituted for Elmer Holm, he suffered three fractured ribs.
Howell, one of the greatest plungers in Nebraska history, was unable to add to his total points.
It was tall Ted James who played his career out. He was in there snapping the ball the entire game—undoubtedly the greatest offensive center Nebraska ever has had.