Iowa 27
Nebraska 6

Nov. 4, 1944

Impotent Huskers fall to Iowa, 27-6

Knight’s Injury is Felt; Jim Hansen Helps Hawks to First Win

Iowa Stadium, Iowa City, IA. — For 56 minutes Saturday afternoon the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers didn’t play very much football.

They finally ignited a spark in the final four minutes, and got themselves a touchdown, for their only consolation in a 27-6 defeat at the hands of a victory-starved University of Iowa team.

It was the first triumph for Coach Slip Madigan’s Hawkeyes since they whipped the Huskers at Lincoln last year.

Until the game had only four minutes to go, Nebraska didn’t even make a first down. But it’s more pleasant to mention what happened in those last wild, frantic moments, so we’ll take that up first.

After Iowa’s last touchdown, Joe Kessler returned the kickoff to the Husker 33-yard line, but a clipping penalty set Coach Adolph Lewandowski’s boys back to the 20. In four plays a sprinkling of second and third-stringers covered 80 yards to avert a shutout and take some of the sting out of the whipping.

Ed Gradoville, the 16-year-old from Plattsmouth, faded back almost to the goal line and let go with a long pass. As it sailed high and far, Jack Dedrick, 6-foot 4-inch end from Sidney, moved down the east sideline.

Dedrick made the catch on the Husker 40, and had a clear field ahead. He kept going as fast as he could, but Hawkeye Herb Byers angled over and finally downed the tall boy on the Iowa 28. It was, a 52-yard gain.

On the next play, Bill Perdew of Hastings took over the passing job. He threw one down the middle, and again Dedrick was Johnny-on-the-spot. He made the catch on the 6-yard line, and when he fell the ball rested on the three.

Doug Nelson rammed two of the yards, then Kessler went off tackle for the touchdown.

Up until that belated flurry, it was a sad afternoon for the Huskers.

The biggest blow came when the game was only three and half minutes old. Chuck Knight injured his shoulder and went out of the game, for good. That left Nelson as the only right halfback since Dick Lamberty had been left home because of illness.

Nelson played the rest of the way, but he just couldn’t get under way on the reverse plays such as Knight used to score on Missouri a week ago.

The figures show how poorly Nebraska functioned on rushing plays. The Huskers gained only 43 yards, lost 31, for a net ball-carrying gain of a scant 12 yards. And the only two successful passes were those dying-moment ones which gained 77 yards and produced the only two first downs.

In contrast, iowa made a dozen first downs and rolled up 203 yards by rushing and 50 yards on six completed tosses.

Big Jim Hansen, the former Omaha North High fullback who played the first three games last year as a Cornhusker, was better as an opponent than he was in scarlet togs. Iowa’s captain for the day, he carried the ball 15 times for a gain of 81 yards.

The other standout Hawkeye was Nelson Smith, a 21-year-old Army discharge who played a season at Coe.

A hard-running fellow who gets through an opening in a hurry, Smith gained 66 yards on 15 efforts. Three times he went zooming over the goal for touchdowns. And he was on the tossing end of most of the passes.

A play or two after Knight left the game, Bill Betz fumbled and Hansen recovered on the Nebraska 27. It took nine plays from there to score, with Dick Woodard wiggling across by inches as the clock said 10 minutes had been played.

The Huskers stopped another drive early in the second quarter and took over on their 4-yard line, but John Stewart ran Jack Selzer’s end-zone put back to the 34 to start another scoring march.

Smith passed to Russ McLaughlin, freshman end from Audubon, for 21 yards, then Hansen and Smith took turns plunging, with Smith going over from the two.

The score was boosted to 15-0 just before the half ended, when Nelson intercepted one of Smith’s passes on the 1-yard line, then became confused and stepped back into the end zone for a safety.

The third period was scoreless and listless, but Iowa picked up two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

Woodard intercepted a Selzer pass and ran back to the Husker 17, from where Hansen and Smith rammed to a touchdown in six plays.

Smith was the whole show in a 52-yard advance for the other tally, making off-tackle runs of 12, 14 and 11 yards and throwing a pass to McLaughlin for 13. The scoring run was an 11-yard thrust which found Smith still on his feet as he crossed.

Then came that one brief Husker show, which sent the eight thousand fans home quite satisfied.

More coverage

World-Herald post-game coverage (PDF)

Series history

Nebraska is 29-17 all-time against Iowa.

See all games »

1944 season (2-6)

Minnesota Sept. 30
Indiana Oct. 14
Kansas Oct. 21
Missouri Oct. 28
Iowa Nov. 4
Iowa State Nov. 11
Kansas State Nov. 25
Oklahoma Dec. 2

This day in history

Nebraska has played 20 games on Nov. 4. See them all »

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