LINCOLN — Coach Bill Glassford was right — it did take more than five touchdowns to win the Nebraska-Missouri game Saturday afternoon.
The Tigers scored five. But the Huskers made six, to pull out a 40-34 decision in one of the wildest scoring orgies ever seen on Nebraska’s sod.
The full house of 38 thousand fans forgot about the 45-degree weather, and overlooked the face “defense” was a forgotten item.
The win — Nebraska’s fourth in six games — was enough to bring the homecoming celebration to a pleasant climax.
As Husker End Coach Preacher Franklin says after such wins as this, just spare me the details and let me hear that final score again.
Yes, there it is — Nebraska 40, Missouri 34.
But let’s just peek into the details, anyway. The offensive show gave Nebraska its high totals for the year in scoring and gain. The national fourth-place-standing of Nebraska in total rushing gain was retained or boosted when the Missouri line was crushed for a net of 432 yards.
And the Huskers completed six passes out of 12 forward passes for a gain of 120 yards. That made a grand total of 552 yards.
Missouri, meantime, was sweeping down the field almost every time it got the ball.
Coach Don Faurot’s Tigers made 340 yards on the ground and 162 in the air for a net of 502.
That gave the two teams the staggering total of 1,054 yards gained. So, when you speak of defense, do it with a horse laugh.
Bob Reynolds kept up his terrific rushing and scoring pace, too, to be the game’s individual standout.
He scored three touchdowns and four extra points for a total of 22. That boosted his six-game total to 103 points.
And he netted 175 yards on 25 running plays for a season’s total of 1,010 yards.
But the greatest single effort of the Grand Island sophomore this time wasn’t on a running play at all.
It was his catch of a forward pass — one of those incredible things that defy explanation.
It came in the dying seconds of the first half, after Nebraska had cut Missouri’s early 14-0 lead to 14-6. Fans were about ready to settle for that margin at the intermission.
Then the Huskers sprang a great scoring play from the Tiger 35-yard line.
Fran Nagle faded back to pass, and held off until Reynolds raced toward the end zone.
Finally, Fran pitched. But the Husker partisans groaned. They saw two Tigers covering Reynolds.
With his remarkable timing, Reynolds leaped at just the right moment, took the ball out of defender Mike Ghnouly’s hands, wrapped his arms around it, and fell to the ground.
That narrowed the invaders’ lead to 14-13 at the half.
Bob had scored the first six Husker points on an easy 14-yard run, after Stephens had seven and Johnny Glorioso four for the Tigers’ first two touchdowns.
If any one thought that four touchdown first half was wild, they were due for a shock — because that was only a sample. Seven touchdowns were poured over in the last two periods.
Verl Scott’s recovery of a Stephens fumble on the Husker 22 stopped the first Tiger march in the second half.
From that point, the Huskers moved 78 yards to take the lead for the first time. Ron Clark ran 22, Reynolds 11, and then nine, and the ball was on the enemy 36.
Nagle set up a pass play by hiding possession of the ball, and running to his left. He finally pitched — and Frank Simon made a fine leaping catch.
Stephens tackled him, but the momentum carried him over for a touchdown. Even though Reynolds kick was no good, the Huskers had themselves a 19-14 lead.
But Mizzou took the kick-off and calmly moved to a score. Stephens making that last two yards. Wren had gone 46 yards to the 11 after taking a delayed later from Phil Klein.
Glorioso missed this extra-point, so Mizzou was ahead by 20-19.
Each side failed in the next drives, with Clark intercepting a pass and getting back to the Missouri 41.
Nebraska ate up those 41 yards in six plays, Clark running the Mizzou right end for the last 10.
Reynolds added his point and Nebraska was back in front, 26-20. Once more Missouri took the kick-off and went for a touchdown.
Glorioso’s sparkling 50-yard run carried to the Husker 17-yard line, and Stephens made a short push to his third touchdown.
That tied it up, and Glorioso’s kick gave Missouri a 27-26 margin, just before the last period opened.
Nebraska finally broke the Alphonse-Gaston act by making two touchdowns in a row in the fourth quarter.
From the 14-yard line, Nagle passed to Dick Regier as the junior end raced across the end zone.
The ball hit Regier’s paws and bounced — but into the air. Dick stepped quickly away from the opposition and caught the ball before it hit the ground.
Reynolds again kicked the point and it was 33-27.
The Mizzou bid to come back as it had been doing after each Husker score ended when the Huskers tightened and took the ball on downs on their 45-yard line.
In a few plays Nebraska was resting on the Missouri 33-yard line — and plotting how to increase that six-point lead.
On a fourth down play, Reynolds started in his usual path toward the opposing left end.
But he saw he was trapped, so ran far back and to his own left. He was trapped again — far back of the scrimmage line — but wasn’t downed yet.
He reversed the field again, went where the play originally started, and kept right on going — thanks to half a dozen fine blocks by his mates.
The touchdown run — the one that cinched the game — goes down as 33 yards, in the records. But actually, Reynolds ran a good 100 yards backwards, sideways and forward.
Bob also kicked the point, and the lead of 40-27 made it look like a cinch.
Missouri came back for a score on a 63-yard march that ended with Klein sneaking over.
But only a minute and 50 seconds remained to be played, and that wasn’t enough to give the Tigers another chance, even though the Huskers had to punt with 15 seconds left.
So Nebraska boosted its Big Seven standing to a 2-1 mark, good enough to share second place with Kansas.
And fans see a chance for two more wins, with Kansas State and Iowa State coming up at home the next two Saturday’s. But anticipation of that closing game at Oklahoma isn’t so sweet, after this failure of the Husker defense to do much about stopping the Tigers’ version of the split-T.
That’s what Oklahoma uses, too — plus a better defense.
Nebraska is 65-36 all-time against Missouri.
|Penn State||Oct. 21|
|Kansas State||Nov. 11|
|Iowa State||Nov. 18|
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