Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, Kans. – Nebraska’s Cornhuskers thrived on the first rain they had seen all season and produced an unexpected and resounding 14-13 triumph over Kansas Saturday afternoon.
The Big Seven’s upset of the year saw Coach Bill Glassford’s eager pupils roar back from a 13-7 deficit at the half and mark up the tying touchdown and winning extra-point kick with 5:50 left.
A homecoming crowd of 33,500 sat through the rain and watched the nation’s No. 7 team try frantically but futilely to overcome the Huskers with a late passing attack – but Nebraska was king this time.
The 13-point underdog Huskers carried the battle to Kansas all afternoon; took a 7-0 lead, fell behind by 13-7, then finally cashed in after missing several other scoring chances.
The winning touchdown came with dramatic suddenness after it appeared that Lady Luck had it in for the Huskers.
Early in the fourth period two bad breaks almost buried Nebraska hopes.
George Cifra let the soaked ball squirt out of his hands after he had moved 20 yards to the KU 30, and that bid ended.
A few minutes later a gamble on a fourth-down run near midfield barely failed when Jim Cederdahl slipped on the wet grass and was inches short.
And a third Husker chance fizzled when Hal Cleavinger intercepted one of John Bordogna’s passes on the Kansas 37.
But the luck finally turned in Nebraska’s favor. Quarterback Jerry Robertson was rushed as he tried a deep pitch-out, and he tossed the ball out of Frank Cindrich’s reach.
Alert Dan Brown rushed in from the secondary and cuddled around the ball on the Jayhawkers’ 27-yard line.
That presented the opening which the Huskers just couldn’t resist.
Bob Reynolds made two yards in the middle and then on the next play picked his favorite spot around the enemy left end.
Reynolds was rambling, bouncing off tacklers and feinting others astray, until he had covered 12 yards to the 13-yard line.
Here he was downed. But several over-anxious Jayhawks piled on him – and KU was penalized to its one-yard line.
From there Bordogna held tight to the ball and wedged. He was inches short the first try, then went bowling over on his second to make the scoreboard read, 13-13.
Reynolds calmly lined up his extra-point opportunity, then booted it straight and true for the winning point – just as he had done after Bordogna’s similar scoring sneak in the first quarter.
Then the pressure really fell on the Huskers, with almost six minutes left to play.
Kansas was sure to pass. And Nebraska didn’t even have Jim Yeisley, its best defensive halfback, in suit.
So it was far from a Husker victory at this point. And the Jayhawks passed, all right.
Gil Reich passed to Jerry Taylor for 17 yards soon after the next kickoff.
Then Brown was the man-in-the-right-spot again. He intercepted a Reich pass which had bounced high off Paul Leoni’s hands, and ran back to the Nebraska 42-yard line.
But Nebraska had to punt on fourth down and give the ball to KU on its 23 with three big minutes still left to go.
Two passes failed, then Reich fooled the Huskers by almost breaking loose after faking a throw. He ate up 31 yards, and still two minutes remained.
Three more Reich passes failed, but on fourth down Leoni grabbed a toss on the 50-yard line.
Two more passes were good, as the Huskers set up a defense which invited short pitches but left a man between the catcher and the goal.
It finally was first down on the Nebraska 36, then Max Kitzelman went roaring in to down Reich before he could throw on the last play of the game.
So the four thousand Husker fans in the crowd joined the Husker bench in whooping it up.
They didn’t even mind the rain and cold wind.
Because here was Nebraska’s fifth win of the season – and a 3-1-1 Big Seven standing which leaves a chance for Nebraska to tie for the title by dropping Oklahoma in its only remaining league start – if the Sooners beat Missouri next week.
The Huskers put Kansas in the hole right at the outset by working a short on-side kickoff, which Dennis Emanuel recovered on the KU 40.
Nebraska controlled the ball all of the first quarter, finally getting a scoring chance when Bob Brandeberry fumbled and Bob Smith recovered only 14 yards from the KU goal.
Reynolds made nine in two plays, Cifra added two, and Bordogna made the last three in two sneaks. Reynolds’ kick made it 7-0.
A missed field goal by Reynolds from the 27-yard line ended another first-period chance, and twice Nebraska chose to punt from inside the Kansas 30.
Both times Reynolds tried for the coffin corner to put Kansas in even a deeper hole. But each time the ball bounced into the end zone.
Then, early in the second quarter, Bordogna made a bad pitchout to Dennis Korinek and Cleavinger recovered for Kansas on the Nebraska 27.
In five plays Kansas tied the score. Brandeberry ran the last nine yards. And Don Hess kicked the point.
Later in the second period, Kansas marched 64 yards with 11 running plays and two passes.
The second touchdown came on a Robertson pitch which was supposed to go to Brandeberry deep in the end zone.
Leoni came rushing up when he saw Brandeberry was covered and made a great catch on the goal line with 3:14 left before intermission.
Even though Hess’ kick was wide, KU held a 13-7 lead.
Only a light drizzle had fallen in the first half. But the hard rain started during intermission.
The Huskers kept missing their chances in the third and fourth quarters. But they kept Kansas from threatening, too.
Then came the fatal KU pitchout which gave Nebraska its winning opening.
So the Huskers rejoiced, and the KU fans sighed over the second loss in eight games.
Charlie Hoag never once came off the KU bench. A warmup indicated that his ailing knee could stand no more punishment.
By contrast, Reynolds was back in high gear for Nebraska. He wound up gaining 81 yards on 19 carries and returning a punt 35 yards. Cifra made 66 on 13.
Nebraska had a margin in total yardage, with 213 to 204. The Huskers made all but seven yards on the ground, while Kansas had 114 rushing and 90 passing.
So now the Huskers, with a 5-2-1 record on the credit side for the season, can look forward to next Saturday’s Homecoming game with Minnesota with high expectations for a pleasant afternoon.
Nebraska is 91-23 all-time against Kansas.
|South Dakota||Sept. 20|
|Iowa State||Oct. 4|
|Kansas State||Oct. 11|
|Penn State||Oct. 18|
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