#2 Notre Dame 44
Nebraska 13

Oct. 16, 1948 • Memorial Stadium, Lincoln

Irish Ball-Handling Wizardry Mystifies Nebraskans, 44 to 13

Cletus Fischer falls in behind perfect interference, scores six seconds before intermission ... in climax maneuver after spread play and fake pass put the ball on Notre Dame's one-yard line. JOHN SAVAGE/THE WORLD-HERALD

LINCOLN — Frank Tripucka Saturday put on one of the greatest individual football shows ever seen on the Cornhuskers' play yard.

Notre Dame's 44-13 victory over Nebraska was a personal triumph for the 20-year old Irish quarterback from Bloomfield, N.J.

The packed house of 37,400 saw Tripucka handle his tough T formation ball-handling chores perfectly.

He was an expert at passing, handing the ball off to mates, and faking, and was just as good as all-American Johnny Lujack was last year.

The scoring margin in favor of Coach Frank Leahy's Irish was 31 points, the same as last year.

Tripucka Sparks Drives

Outside of Tripucka, the invaders didn't look as all-powerful as some of the great Irish packs of the past. Yet they rolled to a staggering total of 621 yards boosting their unbeaten streak to 22 games.

Tripucka didn't score any of the seven touchdowns, but he personally acted as navigator for six of them.

The game was only 3½ minutes old when Emil Sitko hooked onto a beautifully-timed lateral from Tripucka and pounded nine yards for the first points.

Before the opening quarter was over, another lateral from the precise quarterback scored again.

Panelli Goes 73 Yards

This time John Panelli took a delayed side toss, fell in back of a wave of blockers, and raced 73 yards down the east side lines into a 20-mile-an-hour north wind.

Tripucka's maneuver for the third touchdown was about his best single play.

The Irish had the ball on Nebraska's 29-yard line early in the second quarter. Frank faked a lateral, pulled the Huskers to one side, then turned quickly and moved the other way.

He spotted End Bill Wightkin breaking into the clear back of the Husker secondary. So he shot a long forward which Wightkin easily gathered in as he trotted across the goal line.

Fake Fools Huskers

The masters from South Bend took a 25-0 lead as a third string half back, Jack Landry, slanted off tackle for seven yards.

It was easy for Landry, because Tripucka faked the ball to another back and sprung the actual ball-carrier loose with his deception.

With only 30 seconds left in the half, the Huskers found a scoring chance. Don Sailors fell on a Landry fumble on the Irish 23-yard line.

Coach Potsy Clark's Platte River spread formation was brought into play.

Cletus Fischer ran for nine yards. Then the St. Edward mite neatly faked a pass from the spread, and went dashing into the northeast corner of the field.

Cletus Fischer Scores

His 13-yard advance was stopped when he was bowled out of bounds on the one-yard line.

That stopped the clock, with six seconds left.

Clete dug in, took the snap from center, and hit the big line for a touchdown.

After the intermission, Tripucka came back for another two-touchdown display in the third quarter.

It was a straight march of 66 yards after the kick-off, with the quarterback hiding the ball like a magician and springing runners loose.

Sitko took a short pass from Tripucka to reach the four-yard line, then high-stepped off tackle for the score on the next play.

Tripucka Pass Clicks

A 68-yard punt return by Bill Gay set the stage for the sixth N.D. touchdown. That put the ball on the 13-yard line.

On a fourth-down play from the six-yard line, Tripucka threw a strike to End Jim Martin in the end zone.

With that, Tripucka gave way to Bobby Williams for the final quarter.

Williams quickly showed he is catching on to Tripucka's tricks. He cleverly faked a pass from the 13-yard line, and the Huskers didn't know who had the ball until Larry Coutre was scooting outside the tackle for a touchdown.

The Huskers blew one chance to score in the last period, and then counted their second touchdown after a Notre Dame fumble.

Fischer Tallies

A Bill Mueller-to-Bob Schneider pass covered 25 yards, and a throw from Fischer to Ralph Damkroger brought a first down on the six-yard line.

But the ball was lost there on downs. Three plays later the Huskers had the ball back. Bobby Costello recovered a Coutre bobble on the two-yard line.

Fischer bounced off tackle and went over for his second touchdown without being knocked off his feet.

It was the kind of a one-sided defeat that had been expected.

Tom Novak made numerous vicious tackles at the line of scrimmage and Tackle Charley TooGood played one of his better games. Howard Fletcher of McCook got in some good licks at left end.

Fischer Sparks Attack

And Fischer of course, was the offensive spark.

Two Husker backs, Don Bloom of Omaha and Kirk Lee of Fremont, made their varsity debuts. They displayed enough drive to indicate they'll stay on the squad.


More coverage

World-Herald post-game coverage (PDF)

Series history

Nebraska is 8-7 all-time against Notre Dame.

See all games »

1948 season (2-8)

Iowa State Sept. 25
Minnesota Oct. 2
Colorado Oct. 9
Notre Dame Oct. 16
Kansas Oct. 23
UCLA Oct. 30
Kansas State Nov. 6
Oklahoma Nov. 13
Missouri Nov. 20
Oregon State Nov. 27

This day in history

Nebraska has played 17 games on Oct. 16. See them all »

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