Nebraska 21
Illinois 21

Sept. 26, 1953 • Memorial Stadium, Champaign, Illinois

Aggressive Huskers Held to Tie by Illini

Husker blockers mow 'em down, and Korinek rumbles for 54 yards. LAWRENCE KOHLMAN/THE WORLD-HERALD

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Nebraska’s suddenly aggressive Huskers wiped out some of the sting of last week’s loss to Oregon by playing Illinois to a 21-21 tie Saturday.

But the final score was something of a letdown to the several hundred Nebraskans in the crowd of 40,011, because Coach Bill Glassford’s blub held a 21-7 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Nebraska went back to the T-formation on nine out of 10 plays, with Johnny Bordogna at quarter; Rex Fischer and Dennis Korinek at the halfbacks; and Jim Yeisley at fullback.

100 Per Cent Better

This brought about a 100 per cent improvement over last week’s opener on offense, with the Husker line pushing the lighter Illini wall back consistently.

But on defense, the Huskers wilted in the 84-degree heat and couldn’t prevent Coach Ray Eliot’s team from scoring the two late touchdowns needed to tie.

The game contained a number of breaks, the first bunch of them in Nebraska’s favor — then one vital one going against the Huskers when it hurt.

This was in the last half of the last period, when Nebraska held a 21-14 lead.

Break Inspires Illini

Dan Brown, in action for the first time after a late summer illness slowed his practice, was filling in at quarter as Bordogna was taking a rest.

Brown hurried a bit too much on an attempted hand-off from the T, and let the ball get away.

Jan Smid, standout Illini guard, curled on the ball just 39 yards from the Husker goal.

The Husker starters came back in at this point. But the new lease on life inspired the home club.

Husker Drive Falters

Illinois cut J.C. Caroline and Micky Bates loose on seven plays to eat up the 39 yards. Bates just made it over for the touchdown.

When Ken Miller kicked his third straight extra point, it was 21-21 with 6:50 left.

The Huskers made one more good effort to pull out victory. But they fell short.

The marched back after the kick-off and finally had fourth down on the Illinois nine-yard with three to go.

Best Play Is Short

Bordogna called for the play which had been making the best yardage all afternoon — Korinek to slash inside end. Dennis drove hard. But he was piled up.

When the yardage lines were brought out, he was inches short of a first down.

That gave the ball to Illinois on its seven with 50 seconds left to play. And the Husker chance for victory was gone.

The first quarter contained no inkling that Nebraska was going to come to life.

Korinek Turns Tide

Illinois moved 63 yards after the opening kick-off to take a 7-0 lead. And it seemed headed for sure second touchdown in the second-quarter.

But Korinek put on the brakes when he intercepted one of Em Lindbeck’s passes on the Husker six.

That sudden turn of the tide awakened the Huskers and they moved 94 yards in six plays to tie.

The big gain came on the third play, when Korinek broke around a pileup in the line and dashed 54 yards before Dick Kohlhagen brought him down from behind on the Illinois 25.

Bordogna Sneaks Over

Bordogna then crossed ‘em up by passing to Yeisley for 20 yards. After Korinek squirmed four yards, Bordogna sneaked to the touchdown and kicked the point to make it 7-7.

A break went against Illinois to open the door for another Nebraska score before the half ended.

Caroline, back to punt, fumbled the snap-back, and then deliberately grounded the ball.

That gave the Huskers possession on the Illinois 31 with only 40 seconds left in the period.

Smith Jogs Across

Bordogna needed just two plays to make the 31 yards. First he faked a pass and ran for 17 yards.

Then he hid the ball well as he ran out to his left. Bob Smith slipped into the open and took a short toss from Bordogna at the five.

He jogged across with no enemy close, and John’s second kick gave Nebraska a 14-7 lead at intermission.

Caroline made another bobble to cost Illinois a touchdown in the third quarter.

On a play that started from the Husker one, he fumbled into the end zone — and Fischer recovered to give Nebraska the ball on its 20.

Why Stop Now?

There wasn’t any scoring in the third quarter. But on the last play of the period Jerry Minnick recovered a fumble by Lindbeck on the Illinois 37.

On a fourth-down play, with only inches needed for a first down, the Illinois defense crowded in close.

Smith drove through for a first down. But he still was on his feet so he just kept going — 27 yards for a touchdown. Ray Novak’s kick made it 21-7.

But just a few minutes later the lead was cut to seven points.

Caroline, anxious to make up for his two fumbles, shot through a quick-opening in the line and ran away from the Huskers on a 74-yard scoring dash.

Statistics Nearly Even

And it was just two plays after the next kick-off that Brown’s fumble set up the last Illinois chance.

Statistics show the closeness of the game. Illinois made 19 first downs to 16 for Nebraska, and had a margin of 362-341 on total net yards.

Caroline was the Illinois ace with 142 yards, and Korinek wasn’t far behind with 123 for Nebraska.

The Huskers had a big edge in passing, Bordogna connected on 10 out of 13 for 130 yards. Illinois made eight out of 15 for 72.

Glassford Proud

When it was over, Coach Glassford said he was proud of the play of his first-stringers.

"Our fist team certainly played up to standard," he said, "and the work of Andy Loehr and Dan Brown in their first game after limited practice was even better than we could have hoped for."

There were no Husker injuries to show for the hot rugged game.


More coverage

World-Herald post-game coverage (PDF)

Series history

Nebraska is 13-3 all-time against Illinois.

See all games »

1953 season (3-6-1)

Oregon Sept. 19
Illinois Sept. 26
Kansas State Oct. 3
Pittsburgh Oct. 10
Miami (FL) Oct. 17
Missouri Oct. 24
Kansas Oct. 31
Iowa State Nov. 7
Colorado Nov. 14
Oklahoma Nov. 21

This day in history

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