Memorial Stadium, Lincoln — The same old hot Indian summer sun beat down on the same old concrete stands — but that was the only similarity between here and the prewar brand of entertainment.
The strangest thing, of course, was the score: Indiana 54, Nebraska 13. The Hoosiers’ total tied the all-time high score against a Husker team on the field where opponents seldom were able to score in the past, and rarely won.
But that wasn’t the only unusual sight. The crowd of no more than 10,000 left two-thirds of the seats empty. There even were unfilled seats on the 50-yard line in the west balcony.
Looking at the dominant color of khaki in the crowd, you couldn’t help thinking back to the days when soldiers were rare in Lincoln, and a football crowd formed a bright scarlet and cream pattern.
Looking at the freshmen-saturated lineups of both Nebraska and Indiana you couldn’t help dreaming of the good old days of experience and power.
Even the brilliant passing of Indiana’s Bob Hoernschemeyer couldn’t make a long time Husker fan think of the present. Seeing Huncy deliberately throw six touchdown passes to receivers in the clear made fans dream of the days Husker teams could spot opponents a player like Hoernschemeyer — and still win.
Hoernschemeyer did put on a marvelous passing show, perhaps as great as any passer ever to appear here. 18 times he tossed — and 14 times the ball was taken by a hard-running receiver.
Fans compared him to Baysinger of Syracuse, Christman of Missouri and other famed passers who have performed here — but they had to discount Huncy’s record because they knew Baysinger and Christman were rushed by potent Nebraska forwards and their receivers were covered by alert Nebraska backs.
And in contrast today there wasn’t much opposition against Hoernschemeyer and his Hoosier catchers.
Mingled between Hoernschemeyer’s flips was one period of aerial play by the Huskers which gave loyal home-towners their only chances to cheer. Twice in the third period Nebraska scored, by the same method. Frosh Teddy kenfield of Columbus pitched twice — and twice 142-pound Bill Miller, former Nebraska Wesleyan basketball player, caught.
It was one brief fadeback to the days of Husker glory. If you could make yourself forget that Nebraska was behind 27-0 when that third period opened, you could vision some of the get-there-quick tactics of Huskers of old.
Right after the last half opened, Allen Trant, the South High grad, slipped through on a quick opening play and , without aid of blockers, raced 50 yards. He had a lead of five yards on all Indiana pursuers, but three caught him at the same time, and brought him down on the 29.
Two plays later Kenfield faded back and set his sights on Miller, trying to run away from his Indiana protector. Miller cut sharply to his right, made a leap and there was the ball on his fingers.
He made the catch in the endzone, and Nebraska had its first score of the season.
After Indiana scored again, Kenfield and Miller repeated their act. This time the play started on the Indiana 48. Miller made the catch going at full speed on the 35-yard line, near the east sidelines. He cut back toward the middle, dodged two tacklers, and finally slipped out of Hoernschemeyer’s arms on the five to score standing up.
That was Nebraska’s offensive showing.
The Indiana parade of touchdowns didn’t begin until 10 minutes after the first kickoff. It came strictly on rushing plays, James Allerdice going the last two yards in two plays.
But less than two minutes later Hoernschemeyer opened his aerial fun, after Trant had fumbled and the great Indiana end, Pete Pihos, recovered on the Husker 33. Just as a teaser, Schienbein passed one incomplete. Then Huncy took over. He flipped one far over the head of Trant and Mangold didn’t slacken his pace, grabbing the ball on the 10 and jogging across.
Here’s how the other six Indiana scores were made:
In the second period, Huncy passed from the 39 to Schienbein. It was a duplicate of the earlier score, over Trant’s head for a catch on the 10, and a breeze the rest of the way.
Later in the same quarter Hoernschemeyer passed 23 yards to Cannady to the 12. The Hoosiers fooled with three line plays then on fourth down Huncy passed into the end zone to Frank Torak.
After the first Husker score in the third quarter, Huncy passed 33 yards to Mangold to reach the 19, then passed another to Torak on the goal line. This was the only period the visitors didn’t score more than once.
But Bo McMillin, who surprised by not showing more mercy, sent his big three of Huncy, Pihos and Center John Tavener back into action to score three times in the fourth period.
First a pass to Pihos went to the 12, from where Mangold circled right end for one of the two touchdowns not made by passes.
Then the great fellow with the long name tossed 22 yards to Pihos to score, and finished by flipping his longest one. It started on the Husker 47, and Mangold caught it on the 10, juggled it but retained possession as he eased over the goal.
So Indiana matched Minnesota’s record score against the weakest Husker team in 53 years. And the ability of game Coach Adolph Lewandowski to complete a nine-game season became more doubtful when Kenfield, the only fellow on this squad who could make the team in a normal year, reinjured his knee late in the game.
Even after the game, you couldn’t help thinking of the contrast between this day and other football days in Lincoln. No jam of traffic on roads leading to Lincoln — no talk of football on Lincoln streets.
But Cornhusker tradition and spirit and power aren’t dead — they’re only sleeping. They’ll return when the sturdy sons of Nebraska are able to think once more of football, instead of war.
Nebraska is 8-9 all-time against Indiana.
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