Missouri 27
#10 Nebraska 13

Nov. 4, 1939 • Memorial Stadium, Columbia, Mo.

Paul Christman Dazzles Huskers


Husker Luther ties score in first quarter ... goes seven yards on Statue of Liberty play. Cunningham got him at the goal but Luther's momentum carried him over. ELDON LANGEVIN/THE WORLD-HERALD


Missouri Finds Nebraska Pitifully Equipped to Repulse Air Raids, Shockingly Shatters Dreams, 27-13

Memorial Stadium, Columbia, Mo., Nov. 4 -- Merry hell broke loose in the skies this afternoon, and pitifully equipped to defend themselves against it, the Cornhuskers went bravely forth to wage an earth-bound counterattack that was woefully inadequate.

By 27 to 13 Missouri won and Missouri used the most devastating assault from overhead ever to harass and confound a Nebraska team.

It was last year's story, repeated with reverberating, crashing emphasis.

It was Paul Christman again, and he was more of a cool, sharp-shooting blond wizard than a year ago, when his unerring bombings reckoned up 13 points to the Nebraskans' 10.

Shatter Day Dreams

But a year ago the sky-raiding Missourians defeated a team that had already been beaten, and was destined to be beaten again and again.

On this day, with Christman, calm and unflustered, sighting more uncannily than ever to Roland and Robert Orf, those towering identical ends with the corn-tassel hair, the sky-raiders dropped from its place among the nation's leading 10 a Nebraska team that had won four times and been tied but once.

And thus were the lovely day dreams, so hesitantly but hopefully harbored by thousands of loyalists in the home state, blasted to smithereens by the merciless assault from above for which the Nebraska kids had no adequate antidote.

Breaks Are Confusing

It can be written that breaks helped get the Missourians away to a quick profit, and then continued to turn in their favor after the Huskers had promptly tied the score, so that the Huskers, lacking the steadying influence of senior players, were flustered and confused.

Breaks were the Missourians' allies throughout the afternoon, but these sudden caprices of fortune almost invariably fall to the team powerful and alert enough to hold command.

And thus it was this afternoon, while 16 thousand looked on, and almost all the 16 thousand were astonished.

Thus it was because of the breaks and because of the super-caution of tense and nervous Donald Faurot, who to the very end refused to put the slightest confidence in luck.

Stars Stay in Game

For almost all the afternoon and to the very end, Donald Faurot kept in the Missouri lineup while the score mounted Christman and the Twins Orf and Bill Cunningham, smashing fullback who becomes a slippery-hipped sprinter once he is through the line.

Brief indeed were the recesses granted this quartet which began its football playing together at Maplewood, Mo., High School, and brief were the recesses given such stalwarts of the line as Bob Waidorf, Jack Landers and Melvin Wetzel. For these men of the line were the protective cordon when Christman threw, and to the Huskers when they were all but impenetrable.

Match Ground Attack

The power aground the Nebraskans did not fear. With that they could have coped. And they could have more than matched it.

But even deceptive and fast power aground is slow and insufficient when pitted against the bombings of a Christman. On the ground the attackers almost always must strike many times to gain the goal. Up above, to strike just once was enough for Christman either to score six points or to make the scoring of six points a supplemental job requiring brief seconds.

Didn't Know, Couldn't Reach

And that is costly, and that is demoralizing to any enemy whose defense against might in the air is lacking in the physical quality of height and the mental armament of knowing what to anticipate.

The Huskers promptly squelched the intricate ball-shuttling maneuvers of the gold-garbed players as they checked Cunningham's fierce rammings when the checking was essential. But when this job was done, Christman threw. It seemed that he simply threw, and simple it was, but also it was deadly proficient.

Paul Waits, Sights

Christman just waited calmly while his receivers attained their prescribed positions, and as he waited would-be rushers in the scarlet shirts were effectively barricaded far from him. He had passing room, did Christman, and his receivers too had the knack that was aided by their advantage in height of doing all that was required of them.

The Huskers' attempt to fight bombardment with bombardment was futile as long as the Missouri ranks were peopled mostly with regular warriors. The Husker line leaked astoundingly as the men in gold rushed past to hurry and stifle Hermie Rohrig and Harry Hopp. Only when time was almost gone did the Huskers manage their assault from above and this was against substitutes in the front line. And by then the battle was lost.

One Break, One Score

The first break turned into six points for Missouri when the game was seven minutes old. The Huskers seemed on their way. Then, sprinting on a reverse, Butch Luther fumbled, and Starmer fell on the ball on Missouri's 44. An offside penalty enabled the Tigers to keep the ball after running plays had failed and Christman showed by an incompletion that he had not yet mastered his sighting. From Nebraska's 44 Christman calmly threw again. Some 20 yards downfield Roland Orf made the catch, then bobbled the ball as Butch Luther tackled him.

One Orf or Another

But an Orf kept running, and an Orf scored, and it seemed as if Roland had miraculously escaped Luther's clutches and recovered the ball.

But it was Bob Orf who made the recovery and ran until it was unnecessary to run any more. As he completed his dash, seven minutes had been played.

Cunningham's placement went wide.

Six minutes later, the Huskers' ground maneuvers produced the tying points. The Huskers were still in the game. Forty-nine yards they marched. Hopp carried most of the burden, and once, Hopp threw daringly to Luther who sprinted to the Tigers' seven before he was forced out by Cunningham.

Old Liberty Play Works

Then from the tactics of the past the Huskers drew on the Statue of Liberty play, and the score was tied by Luther's right-end sprint after he had snatched the ball from Hopp's right hand, which was cocked as if to pass.

But Rohrig, who rushed from the sidelines, kicked wide and the Huskers did not go ahead. And their tie score could not last the scant two minutes that remained in the quarter.

After the kickoff, Christman simply passed to Bob Orf, and there was no challenge as pass and run covered 59 yards and made the Tigers' total 12. This time Cunningham's kick was good, and behind 6-13, the Huskers, as developments were to prove, were beaten, although the Tigers scored twice more, and the Huskers counted once.

Keep Huskers in Hole

The Tigers were brisk about adding to their total of 13. Early in the second period another break beat against the Huskers' spirit. They were offside as Dick Gale punted poorly, and Gale on his second opportunity punted out on the Huskers' 20. A little later Rohrig intercepted one of Christman's pitches one pace ahead of his goal, and for the Huskers the hole had been dug deeper. Out of the end zone Rohrig's punt wobbled 35 yards, and back with the ball dashed Christman to the Huskers' 27.

Then Christman threw to Stillman Rouse. Three or four Huskers hesitated as Rouse regained his balance after making the catch. And the three or four Huskers were lost. Rouse took the necessary five strides over before they began to chase him. Cunningham kicked and the totals read 20 to 6.

At 20 to 6 the totals remained until the last quarter. Breaks battered the Nebraskans even more furiously than the Tiger defense as the third quarter ticked away. The Nebraskans had dashed from the dressing room after their 15 minutes of rest, apparently determined to show that battling on the turf still would triumph over air raiding.

Huskers Overeager

Their own overeagerness turned some of the breaks against them, as when Harry Hopp, about to be tackled by rushers who scented his intent to pass, endeavored to throw through the entwining enemy arms. The bobbling ball fell three feet into the arms of Landers, and Landers was downed on the Huskers' 43 and from there the Tigers began the maneuverings that gave them their last touchdown soon after the fourth quarter began.

Christman's passing it was that advanced the ball to the Husker six. From there an offside penalty nullified an end-zone pass to Rouse. Then the Tigers rubbed it in. Sensing that another pass from Christman was expected after a short pitch had advanced the scrimmage line to the three, the Tigers ran a reverse.

Score on Reverse

The reverse scored. It was Starmer who raced around right end and across as the Huskers sought desperately to thwart a phantom smash at the center. Starmer scored standing up, and King's placement was good.

Twenty-seven to six it was, and these are the figures that denote a rout. This, though, was different. This was a rout from the air, a rout that was possible because the Huskers, like Poland, simply lacked the implements for countering. Down on the ground they would have been formidable, almost surely the masters. But this warring was aloft, and aloft they were overmatched.

With the weapons they possessed, the Huskers never quit trying. They tried gamely and gallantly to the very end, and it was against Don Faurot's stoutest hands that they scored again when five minutes remained.

March 49 Yards

They marched 49 yards with Adna Dobson plunging and Hermie Rohrig running. They were helped when officials called complete because of undue interference their one aerial play of the series. The ruling put them 12 yards out, and from there Rohrig ran left end with George Abel blocking furiously.

Rohrig scored and Rohrig kicked, and then against a weaker Missouri line the Huskers tried once more to counter through the air. But the game ended right after Don Ducheck intercepted Rohrig's pass almost on the Missouri goal.

Avoid Christman

Breaks helped all afternoon to give Missouri the ball, and when Missouri has the ball, Christman pitches. Ohio State was able to triumph 19 to 0 because it kept the ball away from Missouri.

Kansas State was almost successful at doing likewise, and Kansas State lost, 7 to 9. Nebraska, too, might have been successful had not misplays and bobbles interrupted its marches and given Christman the ball.

More coverage

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Series history

Nebraska is 65-36 all-time against Missouri.

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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

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