Nebraska 16
Kansas 14

Oct. 19, 1946

Bernie’s Strategy Beats K.U., 16-14


Sam Vacanti boots an 18-yard field goal in the fourth period to provide Nebraska with its 16-14 victory. Dick Thompson, sent in by Coach Bernie Masterson to call the play, holds for Vacanti. The Husker booter had perfect blocking and plenty of time. JOHN SAVAGE/THE WORLD-HERALD


Masterson Calls for Field Goal in 4th; Overshadows Late Kansas Tally

Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, Kans.—Bernie Masterson scored a personal triumph over his pal, George Henry Sauer, as Nebraska squeezed out a 16-14 triumph over Kansas before an all-time K.U. record crowd of 33 thousand here Saturday.

The second straight Husker win in the Big Six was the direct result of a decision from the bench.

The two-point margin came on a 13-yard field goal by Sam Vacanti early in the fourth quarter—a maneuver ordered by coach Masterson.

The Huskers were ahead, 13-7, at the time and Bernie knew those six points were not safe enough with rifle Ray Evans still on the field for Kansas.

So, with fourth down and five to go on the K.U. 5-yard line, coach Masterson rushed Dick Thompson on the field with instructions.

Thompson held the ball while Vacanti followed his coach’s orders by booting a place kick squarely between the uprights.

And as things worked out, that kick was the right strategy. It made the Husker lead nine points, and the victory was safe even after Kansas made a later touchdown and extra kick.

This was a sparkling game all the way. And Nebraska richly deserved its triumph.

Actually the Huskers outclassed the Jayhawkers by more margin than the score shows.

Playing a five-man line against the Sauer T-formation, the Huskers line consistently out-charged the K.U. forwards. In fact, K.U. was held to 51 net yards gained by rushing, so rugged was the play of the Husker line and linebackers.

Nebraska grabbed a 6-0 lead in the second quarter on a beautiful 52-yard forward pass play from Vacanti to fleet Dick Hutton of Auburn.

Instead of playing in his usual T-formation spot, “under center,” Vacanti stood five yards back of the scrimmage line on this play.

Sammy took a direct pass from center and faded out to his left. Then he wheeled and shot a perfect forward pass to Hutton. Dick made the catch on the 32-yard line, just a few feet inside the west sidelines.

He seemed trapped for a moment, but suddenly changed his direction, and cut back toward the far southeast corner of the field.

Bockers picked up the cue quickly and opened a path. Not a hand touched Dick as he sprinted into the end zone.

That play offset some heartbreaking butter-fingers work on the part of the Huskers in the first period. Three times Nebraska failed to cash in scoring opportunities. They held the ball most of the first quarter.

On the second play from scrimmage after the opening kickoff, Hutton shot through a quick-opening play over the KU right tackle and seemed headed for a score. But Ray Evans cut in from the side and downed him on the 25-yard line, after a 48-yard run.

But a few plays later a pass on the goal line from Vacanti slipped off Hutton’s fingers, and the ball was lost on downs on the 15.

Bill Moomey of York set up another scoring chance with a 36-yard run to the 32 shortly thereafter. Vacanti passed to Hutton, who caught on the 16 and ran to the four.

A Moomey fumble set the Huskers back three yards, and then big Jack Pesek had one of those unfortunate bobbles.

It was a fourth-down play. Pesek broke into the clear in the end zone, and Vacanti put the ball right on his fingers with a neat pass. But Pesek tried too hard. The ball bounced crazily off his fingers and Kansas took over on the eight.

Once more the Huskers came back to bid—in vain. Third and fourth-down passes to Pesek and Hutton failed, and the ball was lost on the 20.

After it was 6-0 at the intermission, things really broke loose in the second half.

Tom Novak, who gave another splendid exhibition of hard running and rugged tackling, had an untimely fumble. He had plunged for what would have been a first down, but he let the ball get away from him when he was tackled. Frank pattee fell on it for KU on the Nebraska 29.

The hometown fans had an opportunity to scream when the Jays cashed in this opening.

Running plays set up a first down on the seven. Then Evans tried a touchdown pass. Pesek hit him hard just as he got the ball away, but Bud French took the ball as he ran sideways in the end zone.

Don Fambrough kicked his ninth straight extra point of the season — and KU had a 7-6 lead.

But less than five minutes later the Huskers were back in front by 13-7.

Bud French fumbled and long Bob Schleiger cuddled up around the ball on the KU 31. A holding penalty a few plays later set the Huskers back to the 44.

But Moomey broke out of the pack on a wide reverse, and ran the KU right end for a touchdown.

After the Masterson-planned Vacanti kick in the fourth period, Kansas made a 78-yard drive for its other touchdown. The scoring play came from 26 yards out. Evans passed and Otto Schnellbacher took the ball on the dead run in the end zone.

Fambrough kicked his tenth straight point but it was not enough.

Nebraska had won again as it had every time this game has been played at Lawrence, except in 1896 and 1944.

And so Nebraska is assured of going into November with at least a share of the Big Six lead.

More coverage

World-Herald post-game coverage (PDF)


Series history

Nebraska is 91-23 all-time against Kansas.

See all games »


1946 season (3-6)

Minnesota Sept. 28
Kansas State Oct. 5
Iowa Oct. 12
Kansas Oct. 19
Indiana Oct. 26
Missouri Nov. 2
Iowa State Nov. 16
Oklahoma Nov. 23
UCLA Nov. 30

This day in history

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