MINNEAPOLIS — For a few brief minutes in the second quarter, Nebraska was leading Minnesota, 13-12, Saturday afternoon.
At this point the record opening day crowd of 57,209 figured the highly-touted Gophers were in for a mighty struggle.
But the sunshine didn’t last long for the several hundred Nebraskans in the crowd.
Minnesota scored three quick touchdowns for a 32-13 lead at the half, then added another with a minute and a half to play for a 39-13 triumph.
The Huskers were routed, because they were woefully weak on pass defense.
Four of the Gopher touchdowns were scored on pass plays, another was set up by a long aerial. The other was a runback of an interception.
Minnesota completed nine of 12 forward pass attempts, clicking on seven of eight in the first half.
Most of them were the result of breaking receivers into the open, completely baffling the Husker secondary.
The first score, six minutes after the game opened, set the pattern. Jim Malosky was all alone on the 10-yard line when he took a 12-yard pass from Ev Faunce, and jogged to six points.
The Huskers got an opening a bit later when Darwin Salestrom recovered a Faunce fumble on the Gopher 16. But the ball was lost on the 11.
Standing on his goal line, Faunce got a bad pass from center and fumbled. Husker ends Bob Schneider and Ralph Damkroger dived for the ball, and Schneider curled around it for the touchdown which made it 6-6.
Jim Bierman, Coach Bernie’s boy, took a long pass from Faunce on the run late in the first period and was headed for a score.
But Bill Mueller ran him down, grabbed out with one hand, and hauled him down 13 yards short of his objective.
But it was all in vain. Faunce faked a pass and ran through a hole for a touchdown two plays later.
Gordon Soltau missed his second straight extra-point try, and that let the Huskers assume a 13-12 lead after five minutes of the second period.
Big Tom Novak tackled Bill Thiele so hard he fumbled, and Tom fell on the ball on the Minnesota 25.
Cletus Fischer passed to Dick Hutton for six yards, and Novak plunged for one.
Then Cletus skipped around the Gopher left end and did some neat side-stepping on an 18-yard scoring run.
Bobby Costello’s kick put the Huskers ahead by a point. But within eight minutes, Minnesota had scored three times to settle all doubt about the outcome.
Thiele slipped into the open to take a pass from Faunce on the goal line to put the home-towners back in front.
A few minutes later Dale Warner intercepted a Gerry Ferguson pass, and ran untouched 32 yards into the end zone.
Then Faunce flipped a pass to Marvin Hein with little more than a minute left in the period.
There was no scoring in the second half until the clock showed only a minute and a half to play. Jim Malosky passed to Soltau for the last 19 yards.
The Huskers threatened to score a third touchdown, which would have been the first time in history they had scored more than 14 points against Minnesota.
But their bids all fell short. Once they had a first down on the 18, but a Kenny Fischer pass was intercepted by the sterling Gopher end, Bud Grant.
Kenny, a second half of the Fischer brothers from St. Edward, carried most of the Husker passing load in the second half, after Cletus was injured.
Clete stayed on the bench throughout the last half after injuring a leg. And Kenny was carried off the field in the last quarter after suffering a bumped head.
Kenny was the most seriously injured of the Fischers. He was retained at University Hospital overnight with a possible concussion.
Physicians said Fischer was hemorrhaging in one eye and had suffered possible internal injury.
If you overlook the passing figures, Nebraska didn’t look too bad in the statistics. They had eight first downs to 12 for the winners, and held the Gophers to a net rushing gain of 150 yards.
But they couldn’t do anything about checking the Gophers passes.
And they simply had no talent to match the top four Minnesota players-Ed Grant, passer Faunce, and two remarkable defensive linemen, 256-pound Leo Nomelli and 232-pound Clayton Tonnemaker.
Nebraska is 25-33 all-time against Minnesota.
|Iowa State||Sept. 25|
|Notre Dame||Oct. 16|
|Kansas State||Nov. 6|
|Oregon State||Nov. 27|
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