Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, Cal. — The Cornhuskers were strictly on the defensive here Saturday, but they’ll never have to be ashamed of their showing against the West Coast’s undefeated Rose Bowl team of 1946.
Coach Bert LaBrucherle’s UCLA Bruins made the Huskers their tenth straight victims, but the margin of 18-0 had to be earned by hard, rugged football, plus deceptive passing and clever handling of T-formation plays.
Although they yielded three touchdowns, coach Bernie Masterson’s Nebraskans drew many a cheer from 52,558 fans for stopping several other scoring threats.
That crowd total was 25 thousand below the pre-game estimate of UCLA officials. They figured that more tickets that more tickets probably were sold, but that the second straight day of heavy fog kept some seatholders away.
The fog became so heavy in the fourth quarter that the ball barely could be detected by fans high in the Coliseum.
Individual hero of the Husker showing was game, 160-pound Cletus Fischer of St. Edward, Neb. he Kept tackling rivals who outweighed him by 40 and 45 pounds until he finally fell from utter exhaustion near the end of the third period.
When he was helped off the field, he drew a real hero’s reception. Even the UCLA players paused to nod in tribute to a masterful defensive game.
It was in the opening quarter that little Cletus got in his best licks.
Following the opening kickoff, the Bruins carried the ball 55 yards in 15 plays. But they didn’t score this time — thanks to hackback Fischer’s determined play.
There was a first down on the 12-yard line when the Huskers put a goal-line defensive something like their great stand in the Rose Bowl game out here in 1941.
Jack Myers tried Vern Steiner’s tackle and was thrown, back for a yard loss by the Hastings yearling. Ernie Case then shot one of his quick left-handed jump asses. But Fischer was in the right spot to knock it out of Burr Baldwin’s fingers.
Cal Rossi, the greatest of many UCLA backs, then was sprung loose around the Nebraska right end. The Bruin students jumped to their feet and sensed a touchdown.
But they didn’t reckon with Mr. Fischer.
He crashed into Rossi, brought him tumbling to the turf on the 10-yard line.
In desperation, Case tried a pass to the other side—far away from Fischer. The ball was too far ahead of Roy Kurrasch’s groping fingers—and the Huskers took over on downs on the 10.
The coast kings were back knocking on the door in a few minutes, when Fred Metheny’s pass was intercepted by Gene Rowland and carried back to the Nebraska 28.
Rowland broke loose to the 10-yard line, then added six more. This made it three downs to make the last four yards.
But they didn’t make it. And again the big reason was Fischer. He had help, of course. Metheny brought Rossi down at the 2-yard line with a vicious tackle. Then Myers rammed into a stone wall.
On the fourth down the famed Rossi ran wide. But Fischer brought him crashing to earth, and Nebraska again took over on downs on the four.
After this stand, Jack Pesek repeated his earlier feat of getting off a well-placed 50-yard punt from the end zone.
The Uclans weren’t to be denied in the second quarter, when they picked up a pair of touchdowns.
They had started rolling again at the end of the opening period. Case jump-passed to Kurrasch for 14 yards and a first down on the Husker 29.
Then on the second play of the second quarter it happened. Case faded way back and ran away from the rushing Pesek.
He let his All-America end Burr Baldwin, get loose in the end zone, then let fly. Baldwin made the catch, and it was a 27-yard touchdown flip. But Husker hopes lingered when Case’s kick was no good and the score was only 6-0.
A penalty helped set up the second UCLA points. On another Case pass to Baldwin, Fischer was charged with interfering with the receiver and UCLA had a first down on the 12, even though the ball hit the ground.
Jerry Shipkey and Myers rammed the line, with Myers finally going over from the two. But it still was only 12-0 at the half when Case again missed the kick.
The Bruins then were kept away from the end zone until the fourth quarter. The final points came on some fleet running by 150-pound Al Hoisch, who went the last five yards untouched.
The Huskers, as we said before, were so busy on defense that they never had time to do much advancing themselves. The big, hard-charging UCLA line was just too good for them.
The Nebraskans made only four first downs and a net gain of 63 yards to 19 and 433 yards for UCLA.
But there was one offensive thrill for the Nebraska fans. This came early in the fourth quarter.
The play started from the Husker 16. Sammy Vacanti jumped over some incoming Bruins and tossed a screen pass to Dick Hutton.
Four mates were there on their feet to swing Hutton into the open. He set sail down the sidelines, but finally was pushed out of bounds by the same little Hoisch who had scored a few minutes before.
The run was good for 38 yards, to the UCLA 46-yard line. But a deep reverse then saw end Dave Dobrow spill Bill Moomey for a 15-yard loss and the chance was wiped out.
Besides Hutton’s run and Fischer’s defense, credit must be given to center Joe Partington and fullback Tom Novak, who forgot their injuries while doing some good linebacking. Other fine plays were turned in by Pesek and tackle Carl Samuelson.
So coach Masterson’s first season ended with only three victories to six defeats — but with all hands feeling pretty well about prospects for next year.
Nebraska is 7-6 all-time against UCLA.
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