Nebraska 10
Iowa State 7

Oct. 14, 1939 • Clyde Williams Field, Ames, Iowa

Huskers Obtain Slim 10-7 Victory Against Scrapping Iowa State Boys


This old-fashioned field goal by Rohrig, booted behind a screen of blockers, made the points which won for Nebraska. E.K. LANGEVIN/THE WORLD-HERALD


Herm Rohrig Kicks 17-Yard Goal in First

Butch Luther Scores on Revers; Errors Deflate Nebraskans

Clyde Williams Field, Ames, Ia., Oct. 14 — It happened again this day as it often has happened since the autumns before the Spanish war.

The Cornhuskers came here with bosoms ballooned by a thumping triumph over a famed and mighty eleven. This time it was Minnesota.

The Cornhuskers had a very difficult afternoon with the Cyclones. By the meager margin obtained by subtracting seven from 10 they won the thirty-fourth meeting.

The 10 points were accumulated by Herman Rohrig's field goal soon after the opening kickoff and Butch Luther's 14-yard sweeping scamper with Mr. Rohrig's supplementary point-by-placement four and a half minutes after the second half began.

Four Punches for Yard

The seven points represent the Cyclones' eventual capitalization on a blocked punt when no more than 10 minutes remained. It took Merle Osborne, a junior, and Bob Seaburg, a sophomore, four downs to punch across from the one-yard line. The sophomore was the fourth-down puncher, but the junior salvaged a part in the insufficient success by kicking the extra point.

Not only did this robust old reunion present the Cyclones in their not-unfamiliar role of inspired underdogs who much of the time outplayed and frustrated the favorites; it also produced a flavor reminiscent of the last game of the baseball World Series.

Even Officials Err

The Cornhuskers erred, and so did the larval plow jockeys and bridge builders, but the Cornhuskers' mistakes seemed more spectacular if only because the Cornhuskers came here one week after making Minnesota look pretty bad.

The Cornhuskers also had moments that were remindful of their irreproachable conduct of a week ago. These outweighed their curious bobbles just enough that when coupled with the Cyclones' mistakes they earned those three points profit.

The deviations from proper form and technique were not confined to the undergraduate athletes. Even the officials shared in the business of making the coaches slide nervously and irritably up and down the splintery benches and the nearly 15 thousand who paid to see wonder just what the deuce was going on.

Lets Rohrig Punt Roll

Being manly men, the officials admitted their lapse, which had the Huskers doing fretful penance from the kickoff following Rohrig's placement until the end of the half, and this time obviously it wasn't the Huskers' fault.

Jack Wallace, a sophomore halfback, made the mistake that the Huskers converted into their first three points. He let Rohrig's early punt roll. It rolled and rolled until it finally wobbled to rest three yards from the Cyclone goal. By that time four Huskers waited menacingly around the perplexed Master Wallace.

Wallace himself punted right back out of his end zone. It was a competent enough kick, but Rohrig's runback bordered on the spectacular. Herman bounced and bulled and dodged 20 yards. He was 15 yards from scoring when Lindsey Vinsel thumped him down.

Rohrig Follows Through

An offside penalty and failure to function with the unified yo-heave-ho necessary to produce yards against such defense as was maintained by every kid in the Cyclone lineup found the Huskers ahead by only five more yards after three downs.

Then's when Rohrig dropped back to the 17, and with Roy Petsch teeing the ball, swung his shoe accurately and true.

Three to nothing for the Huskers. Fullback Bill Lechtenberg kicked off. The ball bounced against the knees of Guard Eddie Schwartzkopf who was in his proper position in the front restraining line. The ball kept bouncing backward until it was fielded by the aforementioned Master Wallace. He ran with it from his own 40 to the Huskers' 44. That distance adds up to 16 yards.

Error Worries Huskers

Over on the Huskers' side, Major Jones fidgeted. But the game went on through the half with the Cyclones keeping the Huskers nervous by charging and passing their way deeper and deeper into the Huskers' domain. The half ended with blue-jerseyed Joe Taylor catching one of Wallace's pitches for a first down on the Huskers' 14.

Read over the play-by-play story elsewhere in this section and you'll discover that it was the kickoff which rebounded off Eddie Schwartzkopf's knees that plunged the Huskers into all this prolonged misery.

And the kickoff did so only because of the officials' error. Wallace should not have been permitted to run back those 16 yards. Iowa State should have been given possession on its own 40, not on the Huskers' 44.

Shortly after the third quarter began, the Cyclones erred again. Lechtenberg fumbled and Warren Alfson recovered 31 yards from the pay line. The Huskers capitalized quickly.

Score on Reverses

Reverses did the trick. They weren't the deep sort that tied Indiana and beat Minnesota. One, that sent Rohrig charging 15 yards for a first down on the 16, was of the double variety. Vike Francis lent variety with a two-yard plunge and then Vike took the snapback, fed it to Luther and Luther ran toward the Cyclones' right flank. He ran out of blockeres near the scrimmage line, but that didn't bother much because there remained no Cyclones menacing enough to block. He was over, and so was Rohrig's placement a moment later.

But from this time on, the Huskers humped and sweated and stumbled in giving protection to their lead. The Cyclones wore the lead to three points a good many minutes later, but during the interval they threatened mildly on several occasions. Husker safeties juggled punts and dropped them. Husker ball carriers tried to dribble snapbacks. Huskers missed tackles.

Blocks Rohrig's Punt

Guard Ernie Mueller blocked one of Rohrig's punts and Don Griswold snatched it up and raced to the Huskers' 20. Francis saved his side this time by intercepting Wallace's pass. But the Ames boys persisted in believing that there is no place like Nebraska. At any rate, they enjoyed passing and pushing around in Nebraska territory.

So much did they enjoy this that even Francis' 69-yard punt that bounced out of bounds at the Cyclone four kept them on their side of the yard but briefly late in the third quarter.

Cyclones Get Across

Right after the exchange of goals, Understudy End Doug Graves busted through the leaky Husker middle and blocked Harry Hopp's punt. Bob Kirkpatrick, substitute center, fell on it on the Husker 29. Osborne's lateral to Bowers found the Huskers clustering where Bowers had no intention of being. When a desperately hurrying Rohrig managed to bunt him across the sideline the goal was one yard away. But the Cyclones had four downs in which to make the yard. As already written, this the Cyclones did.

With time ticking fast, the Ames kids tried to win through the air. The Husker defense managed to spike their batteries. Hopp's interception of Wallace's long pitch and his scamper back 14 yards to the Husker 40 made the 10-to-7 score safe, because when Hopp did this less than 30 seconds were left.

More coverage

World-Herald post-game coverage (PDF)


Series history

Nebraska is 86-17 all-time against Iowa State.

See all games »


1939 season (7-1-1)

Indiana Sept. 30
Minnesota Oct. 7
Iowa State Oct. 14
Baylor Oct. 21
Kansas State Oct. 28
Missouri Nov. 4
Kansas Nov. 11
Pittsburgh Nov. 18
Oklahoma Nov. 25

This day in history

Nebraska has played 18 games on Oct. 14. See them all »

©2019 BH Media Group