A handful of air ... that's what Ron Clark grabs as Darrell Cochran slips under the Husker for first Gopher score. LAWRENCE ROBINSON/THE WORLD-HERALD
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn — At long last, Nebraskans Saturday night were enjoying the sweet taste of victory over the Golden Gophers of Minnesota.
Nebraska whipped Minnesota, 32-36, Saturday afternoon on the Gophers own field while more than 48 thousand looked on.
This triumph was something more than the first Husker victory over the Gophers since 1939 — and the first at Minneapolis since 1902.
2,000 U.N. Fans Thrilled
This triumph signaled the return of the Huskers to the gridiron aristocracy, for the first time since before the war.
It was a delightful success story for Coach Bill Glassford and his hard-charging Huskers, who scoffed at being 14-point underdogs — and went out and led all the way.
It was a great thrill for the more than two thousand Nebraska followers who came along to sit in on the fun.
Husker Blocking Clicks
And it was something of a shock for most others in the crowd to see the big Gophers outcharged and outscored by a foe that hadn’t been much of a match the past 10 years.
The Huskers struck early, then maintained their margin in a free-scoring gem that was full of breaks, drama, and thrills.
They did it with all-around team play — an offense that was clicking because of precise blocking up front, and a defense that was dented but not broken down.
32 points in 32nd Game
And the Gophers didn’t give up — not for one moment — even though they were always behind. The determined Huskers got themselves two touchdowns within the first 20 minutes. Then they added three more when they had to get that many to keep ahead of the onrushing Gophers.
The 32 points were by far the most ever scored by a Nebraska team in this 32-game series which goes back to 1900.
First Score Comes Early
The Huskers, in scoring a point for each game in the series, went far past the previous high production of 14 points in the 1937 victory over Minnesota. That was Bliff Jones’s debut as Cornhusker coach.
The first time the Huskers got their hands on the ball they didn’t lose it until they had a 7-0 lead. They marched 44 yards to a touchdown with only two minutes and 43 seconds have been played.
Nagle’s Pass Is Strike
The scoring ice was broken on a beautiful 32-yard pass play. Gram Nagle calmly waited for Fullback Bill Wingender, sophomore from Creighton Prep, to get into position.
Then Nagle pitched a perfect strike into the hands of Wingender as he rushed back of two defenders on the goal line. That made it six lightning-fast points. And Bobby Reynolds made it seven with a straight kick.
Reynolds Scores No. 2
It wasn’t long before Nebraska’s defensive platoon came into glory, too. Larry Esser fumbled when hit hard by Bob Mullen, and George Prochaska recovered on the Husker 40-yard line. Again, they refused to give the ball up until they had covered the 60 yards for a second touchdown.
It came as the clock showed 9:31 played. Reynolds, the Grand Island dandy, swept around the Gopher left end and went the last five yards without being touched.
Gophers Need Break
This time Bobby’s extra-point kick hit the crossbar and bounced back. But it was 13-0, anyway. And the Gophers knew they had their hands full.
It took a break to set up the first Minnesota points. Reynolds, back to punt on fourth down, fielded a bad pass from center that left him no chance to kick.
He tried to run it far enough for a first down. But he was a yard short and the Gophers gained the ball just 29 yards from the Husker goal.
George Hudak ran for 12 yards and passed to Shorty Cochran for 15, Then Cochran ran the last two yards for a touchdown, with only 1:43 left in the first quarter.
Bobby Struts Stuff
The Gophers were headed toward a score early in the second period, when Gary Johnson fumbled and Mullen dove onto the ball on the Husker 24-yard line. Three plays later the fans saw why Reynolds is being called one of the greatest sophomore runners in Husker history.
Bobby put on all of his running tricks in an electrifying 67-yard run.
He broke through a quick opening inside the Minnesota right end, and set sights on the distant corner of the field.
Trapped? Not Reynolds
Bobby waited for blockers to clear the early path, then put on his speed.
At the 15-yard line Cochran appeared to have him trapped. But Reynolds shook his hips, stepped high, and ran right out of Shorty’s hands.
His points gave Nebraska a 20-6 lead. Two more touchdowns — one on each side — were crowded into the busy second period.
Clark Comes Through
Verl Scott, Mitchell soph who had a terrific line-backing afternoon, intercepted one of Hudak’s passes and got back to the Nebraska 48-yard line.
Ron Clark, Ravenna junior who did most of his playing on the defense, was sent into the offensive unit during the 55-yard march. And he came through beautifully.
Clark was shaken loose off tackle, and ran past three would-be tacklers on a 22-yard scoring dash that made the Husker lead 26-6.
But Minnesota took the next kick-off and went all the way without losing the ball.
Ron (Skip) Engel scored the first of his three touchdowns by going the last five yards to cut the margin to 26-12 at the half.
Huskers Muff Chances
The Huskers missed a scoring chance early in the second half. The ball was lost on downs on the five after Mueller had made a 67-yard run to the 13.
The third period’s only points came when Hudak pitched a short pass to Engel for a touchdown, and gregory’s kick left the Huskers with only a seven-point edge, 26-19.
They matched touchdowns in the last quarter. Hudak intercepted aNagle pass on the Minnesota five to stop a Nebraska drive.
But Clark soon returned a punt to within 33 yards of the enemy goal.
Scott Gets Clincher
The Gophers gained possession on downs on the 19. Then a break came to the Huskers.
Kermit Klefsaas let the ball bounce out of his hands, and it rolled into the end zone.
In the wild scramble for possession, Mullen touched the ball but it squirted away — and the alert Scott finally cuddled around it for what turned out to be the clinching touchdown.
And It Was Needed
That one was needed. Because the Gophers still had some scoring ideas.
They marched 79 yards for their fourth touchdown, with Johnson passing to Engel for the last 18.
Dave Skrien kicked the point. And that left Nebraska with a shaky 6-point margin at 32-36, with two minutes and 32 seconds left.
The Huskers tried to keep possession, but couldn’t do it. They finally had to kick it top the Gophers with 39 seconds left.
Reynolds 17 Tries, 161 Yards!
But three plays were stopped by the victory-starved Huskers, and so the triumph became a fact when Dick Goll made the last tackle as the gun barked.
Reynolds almost matched his yardage total of 187 yards against Indiana a week ago. This time he made 161 yards on 17 carries.
He had ball-carrying help from Mueller, Clark, and Wingender — and the much-needed blocking from everybody up front.
It’s hard to single out individual stars on the Husker defensive unit. They all had their moments, with Mullen, Scott and Big Don Boll coming in for some great stops.
Minnesota Wins Statistics
In team statistics, Minnesota had 18 first downs to Nebraska’s 10. But, in total yardage, the margin for the losers was only 389 to 363 yards.