Memorial Stadium, Lincoln — If you remember nothing else about the 1944 University of Nebraska football team, you’ll have to retain the memory of a squad of superior mudders.
After losing five of six previous games on dry footing, the Huskers found themselves in the rain and snow here Saturday to wallop Kansas State, 35-0.
It was a very pleasant triumph for Coach Adolph Lewandowski and his 34 able bodied players, all of whom saw action.
It gave them fourth place in the Big Six standings, a record of two wins out of three at home for the season, and put them in good spirits for the closing journey to Oklahoma next week.
The first half was played in a steady rain, with the 2,500 fans huddles under the balconies, and it took a couple of tough breaks against the Wildcats to let the Huskers hold a 7-0 margin at intermission.
But snowflakes as big as apricots started floating down in the second half, and the Nebraska used it as a signal to really function.
It kept right on snowing all the way, and the Huskers kept right on clicking, even the third-stringers outplaying their foes convincingly.
Center Keith Doyle and end Bob Koenig were brilliant on defense, while Chuck Knight, Jack Selzer and joe Kessler were standouts on offense.
Most of the first-half excitement was crowded into the last three minutes, though the Huskers had missed a scoring chance a little earlier when Bill Betz was forced out of bounds on the 3-yard line on a fourth down reverse. Selzer’s punting edge kept the Wildcats deep in their own territory.
Then, toward the end of the second quarter, Coach Ward Haylett’s kids suffered a tough break. Big Bill Faubion broke over right tackles, and cut back for an 85-yard run into the end zone.
It was a great sprint off a quick-opening play. But alas, it was wasted. Referee Mutt Volz ruled the Wildcat backs had been in motion on the play, and it was recalled.
On the next play, 142-pound Dana Atkins fumbled a lateral from Jim Ungles, and Doyle recovered for the Huskers on the 4-yard line. Knight hit once, Kessler twice and the ball still was six inches short of the goal line.
Bill Betz then sneaked over for a touchdown and Duane Berkey came in to kick the club’s first point after touchdown of the year. That’s the way the first half ended, 7-0.
Nine points were added in the third period. The first two in a hurry.
Right after the kick-off, Payton fumbled an attempted lateral and John Stevenson of Scottsbluff recovered on the foes’ 35-yard line. Selzer, also from Scottsbluff, placed a punt out of bounds on the six, and Faubion had to try a kick from his end zone.
But the kick never got out on the field of play. Alert Mr. Doyle was on top of the kicker for a clean block. Koenig raced the ball toward the back of the end zone and fell on it, but referee Volz ruled it was out before Koenig had it, so it was a two-point safety instead of a touchdown.
Five minutes after, one of Ungles passes through the snowflakes was intercepted by Betz on the Nebraska 44. Two plays carried to the K-State 45, from where a neat touchdown play was pulled out of the Husker bag.
Kessler started wide on a reverse, and about five yards beyond the scrimmage line was about to be tackled. He tossed a lateral to Selzer, who already was coming along under full steam. Selzer kept churning down the east sidelines, and covered the 40 yards without an enemy hand touching him.
Just before the third quarter ended, Junior Collopy fell on an Ungles fumble on the Cats’ 31-yard line, and Kessler advanced to the 22 on two plays before the teams changed goals.
The first play of the last period was turned into another touchdown.
Kessler crashed off right tackle, seemed to be stopped, but kept churning his legs until he had moved 22 yards to make the score 22-0.
Knight was the hero of the last two touchdowns, though the records give him credit for neither. Sub back Bill Perdew ran 18 yards to the 43-yard line, from where a touchdown was executed on the next play.
Knight came toward the west sideline on a reverse, and was at about the 12-yard line when a tackler grabbed his legs. He timed a lateral perfectly to Buzz Hollins, who was tagging along, and Buzz jogged over the goal.
The play was duplicated a few minutes later.
This one started from the Kansas State 27, where Perdew had run with an intercepted pass. Knight ran only about eight yards on this one, then flipped back to Perdew, who went 22 yards to score.
So Knight should have a big share of the credit for those touchdowns which are given to Hollins and Perdew in the summary.
So the U.N. home season is closed, and as far as Gregg McBride of the World-Herald’s Lincoln Bureau is concerned, the Huskers of 1944 are unbeaten. He saw them in only two games — the days they whipped Missouri and Kansas State.
Nebraska is 78-15 all-time against Kansas State.
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