#18 Nebraska 20
Missouri 7

Oct. 26, 1940 • Memorial Stadium, Lincoln

Nebraska Crushes Untiring Paul Christman, Dazed Mates, 20-7; Huskers Required to Punt Only Two Times

Twice in a row Rubber Man Rohrig, who had just entered the game, passed to Luther. The second was good for 36 yards and a touchdown.

Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Oct. 26 — Two teams of Cornhuskers and a few rampant hands got back at Paul Christman this afternoon.

They scored 20 points against the Merry Magician who stayed 60 full minutes with desperately shifted, prayerfully patched line-ups of outclassed teammates.

They loosed the most devastating, annihilating power to be generated in red armor since the autumn of 1928 and they needed to do it, for beaten men often battle with fierce recklessness, and so it was this day.

They passed. Twice the throwing produced touchdowns.

Was there mockery in this?

It’s No Shutout!

If there was, the Merry Magician didn’t notice. As poised and gallant, as unremittingly smiling and hard-trying in defeat as in his many marvelous victories, Paul Christman stayed with his vanquished, panting, dazed mates to the end.

The Cornhuskers couldn’t shut out the Merry Magician!

With 24 seconds left he pitched a touchdown pass that enabled the dragging, spent Tigers to capitalize on their only true scoring chance. The Chance came when Vike Francis bobbled a bad snap-back and Guard Ray Schultz blanketed the ball with his sweat-sopped body on the Huskers’ 23.

Frantic Doings

Christman threw four times. Each time Understudy Back Charley Beattie was his target. Twice he made bullseyes-on the first attempt and the last. On the last Charley fielded the ball in the corner. The goal was a stride ahead. Roy Petsch was two strides behind. Charley got across.

Then off the sag-shouldered bench strode Sub Guard Ted Liebig. He kicked the placement that made the Tigers’ total seven.

With 20 seconds remaining Back Jerry Notowitz kicked off short, and Beattie fell on the ball at the Husker 31. But Harry Hopp completed his wayward celebration of a sort of personal Fathers’ day by intercepting Christman’s long pass in the end zone.

Contest Only at End

Thus ended the brief interval when the game was truly a contest, an interval reserved for the final moments when not victory, but only hard competition could be the objective and the solace.

For more than three quarters a crowd that broke all Big Six attendance records may have set a Memorial Stadium high saw Missouri-and Christman-held helpless. More than 38 thousand spilled onto the ramps and abutments. When the fourth period was well along, the Nebraskans led by 20 points, the Magician had completed a single pass, and had another called finished by way of penalty against the ever alert, savage rushing and savagely covering Nebraskans.

Huskers Punt Twice

For 54 minutes these Nebraskans powered and speeded the ball more than three hundred yards, and sent it cruising through the mid-June air for another 95.

Throughout the afternoon they punted only twice. This was done by Harry Hopp both times, and it comprised but an infinitesimal part of Harry’s prodigious chores.

Here, perhaps, is the most eloquent brief story of the sort of game it was-the Huskers punted only twice!

Most of their warring minutes were spent assailing a gold-shirted line with heavy gunnery that blasted yawning holes and in sending an air onslaught deep into territory which gold-shirted boys guarded futility, to their tremendous cost.

Hopp Smashes

In the Tiger wall only Guard Schultz could do much about checking the high-geared smashes of Hopp, who seems incredibly inspired by his new parenthood, and the lightning-swift lunges of Vike Francis, who was a demon during the early going, when he was called to carry often.

Behind Vike in the squad rankings presses a youngster named Blue, who has made intrasquad competition the keen sort that Viscount has needed.

In the Tiger secondary only Center-Line Backer Darold Jenkins could do much about the terrific battering. The Huskers were conning, The Huskers were swift. Schultz and Jenkins couldn’t keep up with their change of direction and their change of pace, and Christman on defense was strangely important.

Paul’s Defense Weak

The Huskers threw the ball over Christman and past him. To two touchdowns they threw the ball, but these came after spectacular scoring dash that capped a power drive and made it plain in the opening period that Christman would have to draw upon new and terrible magic to control the battling in his final meeting with the Huskers.

Emergency Play

The dash was the product of a play the Major had been saving for an emergency. Maybe he wishes he had confined it to the practice field for another week.

It was a double reverse that sprung Roy Petsch on his 53-yard scamper to that first touchdown, and it followed a Hopp-and-Francis onslaught that moved the battle line from the Huskers’ 20 to their 47.

Hopp and Francis probably could have kept sledging away for the rest of those necessary 53 yards. The Tigers seemed to expect this, to judge their desperate shifting of defenses.

Cowboy Gets Away

Then Vike took the snap from Bob Burruss, half spun, handed it to Butch Luther who streaked right, slipping the ball to the left-ward-streaking Petsch as he passed him.

The Cowboy cut short to pick up a blocking shield, followed it into the Tiger secondary and then set off on a zig-zag course with the gold shirts in pursuit.

About 20 yards from the goal Tackle Don Reece dived from behind-and landed belly down on the turf. The Cowboy pranced on-to the only touchdown he ever has made from scrimmage, the fourth touchdown of his career.

It was a double reverse off a double wingback-that’s all-but the Cowboy, the blocking signal-barker, carried; That was the astonisher that astonished Mizzou.

Two Passes, One Score

The no. 2 lineup took over at the start of the second quarter, with Dale Bradley in the ailing Herman Rohrig’s place. The No. 2 lineup did a swell job of monopolizing possession of the ball but it couldn’t work it to the pay window. So with half-time about up the starters came back, with Rohrig taking over for Hopp.

The Rubber Man threw two passes. They covered 46 yards and at the end of the second was the second touchdown. Butch Luther made both catches. The first netted 10 yards. The second did the business.

Butch caught the ball face paces out as Christman gazed aloft in vain. Butch covered those five paces without challenge as Christman still looked upward-but now in a flat position.

Hopp roared throughout most of the third period. Rohrig went back briefly, found his injury prevented his running and retired, to rest on a perfect throwing average.

Mizzou Chances Brief

Now and then Missouri owned the ball briefly, but always briefly. The magnificent line play of Forrest Behm, King Kong Kahler, who was a magnifico among magnificos, Warren Alfson, Ed Schwartzkopf, George Abel, Fred Preston and Senator Prochaska forced the brevity of the ownership.

Sometimes the Huskers rushed Christman. Preston and the Senator were grand at this. Sometimes they covered receivers. Most everyone was good at that-until only those 24 seconds were left. Tackle Behm did some tremendous anti-aircraft work.

Hopp threw the pass that made the total 20 when six minutes were left. Hopp threw to Luther, who waited in the end zone for the pitch that was to climax the Hopp-powered drive from the Huskers’ 33 to the Tigers’ 15.

Grow Careless

Butch touched the ball to the turf-a needless flourish. But Francis’ placement was wide, and his average for this business on this day was .500. He converted after the first touchdown, Rohrig after the second.

With 20 points in the bank, maybe the Huskers became careless. That, under circumstances, seems a reasonable explanation of their change in conduct after some 55 minutes of dominance.

Maybe they wanted to try everything. They hadn’t tried a lateral yet, and when, right after the kickoff, Francis did, the ball bounced on the turf and Don Greenwood fell on it on Nebraska’s 46.

A minor-key threat followed, to be stifled by this same Francis interception of a Christman pitch.

At Last, a Contest

Then with the big hand on the clock making its last upward sweep this identical Francis got the faulty pass from center, couldn’t possess it, and the going became a little tough contest within a resounding defest-less than 30 seconds of tough little contest in the role the Huskers had known him throughout two full games-to their great discomfort and embarrassment.

But only for less than 30 seconds.

Many among the more than 38 thousand must have been to see the Magician gain this mite of glory at the end.


More coverage

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Series history

Nebraska is 65-36 all-time against Missouri.

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1940 season (8-2)

Minnesota Oct. 5
Indiana Oct. 12
Kansas Oct. 19
Missouri Oct. 26
Oklahoma Nov. 2
Iowa Nov. 9
Pittsburgh Nov. 16
Iowa State Nov. 23
Kansas State Nov. 30
Stanford Jan. 1

This day in history

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