LINCOLN — Nebraska’s Cornhuskers were in a generous mood for Saturday’s football opener with Oregon.
They presented the visitors with two gift touchdowns in the opening quarter — and wound up suffering a 20-12 defeat.
Sophomore Rex Fischer and Junior Denis Korinek put on a lively show for the 31 thousand fans who sat in 85-degree heat.
But their efforts weren’t enough to overcome the two costly Husker bobbles before they entered the fray.
The first came on the first scrimmage play after the opening kick-off.
Johnny Bordogna juggled the ball as he started to run and finally let it bounce into the open.
Tackle Keith Tucker pounced on the ball and Oregon was only 16 yards from the Husker goal.
It took only five running plays to produce the touchdown, Cece Hodges plunging the last foot 2:45 after the game began.
Ten minutes later the second misplay proved just as costly to Coach Bill Glassford’s players.
This time Center Jim Oliver was the culprit. Bordogna was back for a fourth-down punt. Oliver’s snap-back sailed far over his head.
Johnny retrieved the ball near the goal line and got off a frantic running kick as three Oregon tacklers drove in. The boot went out of bounds on the Husker 11.
On the next play, fleet Dick James ran the Husker left end for a touchdown and George Shaw’s kick made it 13-0.
Both sides sent in new teams at the start of the second quarter, and Fischer engineered a Husker drive that carried 63 yards to cut the margin to 13-6.
Fischer whirled away from several big tacklers to eat up 15 yards on one run and he set off a reverse play on which Korinek ground out 18.
Rex ran the last four yards for his first college touchdown.
At that point Husker fans perked up, thinking the cause might not be lost after all.
But Oregon suddenly struck again — and this time didn’t need the help of any Husker mistakes.
On the second play after the Husker score, Ted Anderson was sprung loose though a quick opening in the middle of the line.
The speedy halfback shot into the clear and ran 57 yards to the touchdown which made the score 20-6.
Little Dirkes Rolston replaced Bordogna with the first backfield unit through most of the third period, which was scoreless. But Fischer and Korinek came back in the last quarter.
And the third play of that last period produced the game’s most electrifying moment from the Husker angle.
It was a 68-yard scoring play through the air. Fischer was given good protection as he faded back to pass and Korinek ran full speed past the Oregon safety man.
Rex’s thrown was perfect, dropping into Dennis’s hands as he sped across the enemy 40-yard line.
The speedy Anderson set out in pursuit of the Ulysses 172-pounder and finally made a tackle on about the five-yard line.
But Korinek’s momentum was enough to carry him on across the goal line, dragging Anderson along.
Korinek’s attempt t kick the extra point was blocked by End Len Berrie and that left an eight-point margin for the Huskers to try to overcome.
They made a bid for a third touchdown. But they didn’t get it after going as far as the Oregon 19.
The Fischer-Korinek passing-act clicked again for 30 yards, Dennis taking the ball out of the hands of two defenders.
But the ball finally was lost on downs on the 19 — and the rest of the game the Huskers had to fight off another scoring threat by the Ducks.
They marched down to the Husker one and had time for one play before the final gun. George Gohde rushed in to spell Walt Gaffney for a seven-yard loss on that closing play.
An odd angle of the game was that the rivals wound up with the same net yardage.
Nebraska made 137 of its 272 yards in the air and Oregon made 251 of its 272 on the ground. They were even in first down, too, with 12 each.
The setback was a disappointment to Husker fans, since Nebraska had been the favorite.
And the two costly fumbles which were turned into touchdowns weren’t the only dark spots of the Husker effort. The line was outcharged by the westerners most of the time.
Lots of improvement will be needed if the Huskers are going to become Big Seven contenders. And next week’s test at Illinois now looks awfully rough.
Nebraska is 6-2 all-time against Oregon.
|Kansas State||Oct. 3|
|Miami (FL)||Oct. 17|
|Iowa State||Nov. 7|
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