Nebraska 14
Kansas State 7

Nov. 24, 1938 • Memorial Stadium, Lincoln

Graduating Huskers Put on Fine First-Half Offensive, Repulse Hackney and Mates at Goal Line


Jack Dodd, Playing Final as Husker, Crosses 35-Yard Line on 60-Yard Run to Touchdown. ELDON LANGEVIN/THE WORLD-HERALD


Dodd Dashes 60 Yards for First Score

Phelps Hurls Pass to Roy Petsch for Second Touchdown

LINCOLN — The football graduation exercises of 10 Cornhuskers this holiday afternoon became one of those holler-jerking double-headers, strongly reminiscent of the tumultuious two-in-one against Indiana three autumns back.

The Hoosiers, you may remember, won the first half with nine points; the Huskers won the second half and the game with 13 points.

On this day the Nebraskans were the absolute, almost tyrannical rulers over Kansas State's young men through the first 30 minutes, during which they raced and pitched and kicked their total to 14.

Hackney Haltered

Then they spent the last two quarters trying to capture a marvelously swift and tremendously powerful human bull named Elmer Hackney. Once they failed, and the failure cost them seven points.

Another time they presented a goal line stand so magnificent that it can be described justly and briefly as the ball game. They repulsed Hackney and his desperate assistants. On fourth down they bent the Kansans' brute advance back from their six-inch line and then took possession five yards up the field.

Among the 22 thousand onlookers who shivered from high hope and painful apprehension fully as much as from the bright cold, there must have been a good many who would say that the score thus written would be justified:

Nebraska 14; Hackney and Kenny Nordstrom, 7.

For Kenny Nordstrom, the center, was Hackney's prodigious helper.

Nordstrom a Barrier

It was he, far more than any other player in the purple helmets and grass green jerseys who held the Cornhuskers' points to 14 during the interval that began with the kickoff and lasted until intermission. During the time the Jones' boys played as they never had this season. They gave just a hint of such things to come by their conduct against Iowa last Saturday.

Against Iowa, they revealed the possession of an offense which they presented in full today while Charley Brock, Bill Callihan, Jack Dodd, Thurston Phelps, Lloyd Grimm and the other five seniors played their farewell contest.

Not until the third quarter did the Young Men of Manhattan get beyond the Huskers' 35-yard line. Indeed, they owned the ball but a very few, futile minutes.

Another Dash by Dodd

Dodd, Herman Rohrig, Bus Knight and Butch Luther were too busy with it to yield possession.

Less than seven minutes had passed when Dodd perpetrated a climactic good-by with a 60-yard scamper to the Huskers' first six points. He took the ball from Rohrig on a reverse, outran two green-bosomed linemen as he skirted their right end and streaked down the east sidelines.

Brock and Callihan cleared the way. Callihan completed his job early. Charley bowled over one up front Kansas and kept on until he had bunted Jack Blanke, the safety, out of bounds. Jack dashed the last 25 yards unchallenged. Then Rohrig added the seventh point with a placement.

Penalties and fumbles and Nordstrom kept the Huskers from adding to this principal until the next quarter had begun, although veteran and sophomore backs ran and hammered over a good many yards of frozen sod.

Huskers Hit Suddenly

About four minutes after the teams had changed goals, the Huskers boosted their account to 14 with sweet suddenness. They had the ball on the Kansans' 48. It was put there by the official decree because Phelps had been roughed while quick-kicking. That costs 15 yards when the policemen detect it.

Phelps faded back a good 15 yards and rifled a long pass toward Roy Petsch. The Cowboy gathered in the ball by reaching upward and ahead as he sprinted past Bob Briggs, the defensive left half. He didn't break nor slacken his stride. He kept running the needed 15 additional yards and then Marvin Plock place kicked his last extra point as a college player.

Right away the Huskers worked back into striking territory. Jack Blanke couldn't kick his mates out of the hole into which Phelps' quick kicks had crowded them. His best effort crossed the sideline at his own 33.

Almost Score Again

From there Phelps pitched to Bill Andreson who ran 21 yards before Nordstrom felled him. Two running plays with Phelps and Plock carrying didn't advance at all so Phelps threw again. Blanke intercepted on his goal and ran back 15 long strides before Bob Kahler checked him. That, by the way, was the day's only interception. Soon after that the timer called recess.

Now It Changes

And after recess it was a different ball game.

In two minutes and 20 seconds the boys from the banks of the River Kaw capitalized on some smart quick-kicking of their own. Blanke's sudden boot sailed far beyond any defender, and bobbled to the Huskers' four where Paul Fagler, knowing what was coming, downed it.

Knight's counter-punt from the end zone was fielded by Blanke who was downed on his 40. On the first play, Briggs broke through the middle, then lateralled to Fagler who sprinted along the west sideline to the Huskers' 16 before Rohrig laid him by the heels.

Briggs was injured. Off the bench came Hackney. Elmer had played about half the first 30 minutes but his deeds had gained him no prominence.

Elmer Scatters Huskers

This time Elmer used just one play to make a touchdown. He lowered his head and rammed and Husker linemen who had sought to stop him flew in all directions.

Elmer kept charging straight ahead, his explosive powers undiminished. He dragged Dodd into the end zone with him. Jim Brock's placement made the invaders' points seven.

The Huskers got the ball again and Dodd and Rohrig did some promising long distance running, but penalties, fumbles, slips on the skiddy, hard play yard and revived Kansans stopped all offensives short of the production stripe.

Counter Blows

Once Rohrig bounced 35 yards upfield with a punt. Once Dodd broke through the right side and pushed 43 yards behind him. The net accomplishment was to keep the ball away from the eager, ravenous Kansans, until the last quarter.

Then Hackney charged and charged and rammed and rammed until Coach Wes Fry ordered him off the field, a hero in his failure.

First the Kansans got the ball on the Husker 44 when Luther fumbled. Nordstrom curled around it. Hackney blasted four times. He was spelled after the first two charges by Mel Seelye, who on a reverse added a yard to the 18 that Hackney made. Then Seelye called on Elmer for the fifth time. Elmer fumbled. There was a pileup. When the boys were untangled Nebraska owned the ball. But not for long.

Primitive Power

Phelps had to punt. The ball crossed the sideline 44 yards out. Then Seelye passed to End Emile Kientz for 12. The ensuing demonstration of primitive power was almost a solo performance by Hackney. If there were no holes, and sometimes there weren't, he made them. he rammed straight ahead, straight ahead, straight ahead. Presently a touchdown and the tying point were four yards away, and Hackney and his associates had a first down.

But the boys from Manhattan never made those four yards. They made approximately three yards, two and a half feet of them. On fourth down, on the six-inch line, Seelye took the ball himself. He did little more than take it. Bill Callihan pierced the green rampart like a bullet and laid Seelye low, five yards back of the place the play had started.

Callihan's Farewell

That was Bill Callihan's final, spectacular gesture. That was the end of the game, though a few minutes remained to be ticked off. Wes Fry walked onto the field and then walked off leading the weary, befuddled but unsurrendering Hackney. Brock and Callihan raced to the sidelines to shake Hackney's hand. Hackney eyed them dazedly. A play or two and then the gridiron was dark with a screaming, bellowing mob that jigged and jumped and smote shoulder blades.

The mob was Nebraskans. They were saying good-by to Brock and Callihan and Dodd and the other seven seniors. Major Jones used them all, and the boys who had been regulars were great to the very end.

More coverage

World-Herald post-game coverage (PDF)


Series history

Nebraska is 78-15 all-time against Kansas State.

See all games »


1938 season (3-5-1)

Minnesota Oct. 1
Iowa State Oct. 8
Indiana Oct. 15
Oklahoma Oct. 22
Missouri Oct. 29
Kansas Nov. 5
Pittsburgh Nov. 12
Iowa Nov. 19
Kansas State Nov. 24

This day in history

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