Orange Bowl

#14 Duke 34
Nebraska 7

Jan. 1, 1955

Helpless Nebraskans Absorb 34-7 Licking

This was sweeter for Husker fans to swallow... Comstock bulls three yards into the Duke end zone and Nebraska narrows a third-quarter deficit to seven points. LAWRENCE ROBINSON/THE WORLD-HERALD

MIAMI — Nebraska’s football players were helpless as Duke romped to a 34-7 Orange Bowl victory New Year’s afternoon.

Except for one 35-yard scoring march in the third period, the Huskers had little to offer. They couldn’t run fast enough, couldn’t block or pull down the Duke speedsters and couldn’t pass anywhere except into enemy hands.

The game was a big letdown for the several thousand Nebraskans who made the long trip south, as well as for other in the record crowd of 68,750.

No Speed, Deception

A hot sun and temperature of 76 degrees didn’t slow or tire the Blue Devils. The heat wasn’t what ailed the Huskers either. They just didn’t belong on the field with Duke.

Coach Bill Glassford’s charges didn’t have speed, drive or deception. They made their poorest showing of the 11-game season.

In addition to other things, they had one of those days when the quarterbacks seemed unable to call the right plays or keep any drive going.

Brief Pleasure

Nebraska made only 110 yards net gain to 370 for Duke — and trailed by a 23-6 margin in first downs.

Charley Bryant’s defensive play, particularly in the second half, was the only bright spot in a drab performance.

For a team so impotent the rest of the game, the only Husker scoring surge in the third period was surprising. It was completely out of place. But it was a brief interval of pleasure for the several thousand Nebraska migrants.

Duke had a 14-0 lead at the time, and opened the door to Nebraska on a crazy punt which bounced the wrong way when it hit the ground and rolled another 20 yards to wind up two yards back of scrimmage line.

Duke Comes Back

That gave the Huskers possession on the Duke 35-yard line. And they suddenly got aroused enough to keep moving for eight plays.

Don Comstock started the march with a five-yard thrust and finished it with a three-yard touchdown smash. In between Ron Clark had a nine-yard run and Bob Smith drove hard for 10.

But Duke came right back after the next kick-off for a 65-yard drive to a 20-7 lead. That made it very plain that the Husker score was just a flash that was out of tune with the rest of the game.

Two of the five Duke scores came quickly after poorly-placed Husker passes had been intercepted.

Score In Two Plays

One of them came in the last minute of the first half, after it appeared the Huskers might escape with only a 7-0 score at the intermission.

The Nebraskans had taken the ball on downs on their 13-yard line, after the Blue Devils had opened scoring with a sustained drive of 65 yards earlier in the second period.

Don Erway tried a short jump-pass over the line in the direction of End Don Hewitt, but Fullback Bryant Aldridge intercepted and got back to the Husker 21.

Then two plays later Jerry Barger passed to End Jerry Kocourek for a touchdown with 28 second left before halftime.

Comstock Pass Pilfered

Another pass interception treated Duke to its next-to-last touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

Behind by 20-7, the Huskers tried a risky pass, when Comstock pitched over near the sidelines from his own 31-yard line.

The ball sailed right into the hands of Nick McKeothan, and the Duke sub took off toward the end zone. He ate up 25 yards but was forced out on the 11.

Then he scored on the first plunge of the final period.

Plenty of Subs

Many of the fans started to leave at this point, and missed Sam Ebardt’s scoring plunge to climax a 61-yard drive with 6:42 left to play.

Coach Glassford used 31 of his 44 players, and Coach Bill Murray used 36 Duke hands.

Both sides kept changing lineups every six or seven minutes in com,batting the heat.

But regardless of who happened to be playing, Nebraska was outclassed.

Pascal Top Gainer

Bob Pascal was the best of many swift, slashing Duke runners who lowered the boom on the dazed Nebraskans. He made 91 yards on nine. McKeithan made 48 and Aldridge 46.

In contrast, the top Husker gainer was Smith with only 22 yards. Comstock gained 20; John Edwards, 18; Clark, 16; Dennis Korinek, 15, and Harry Johnson, eight.

Willie Greenlaw was finished early in the game when he suffered a bruised left hip.

The weary Nebraskans will have a day of freedom today, then fly home to Lincoln late Monday.

Weather Luck Holds

The threat of rain was in the Miami air Saturday morning. But Orange Bowl weather luck held out.

A couple of hours before game time the heavy clouds moved away and the game was played in bright sunshine.

Record Telegram

Before the game Western Union delivered the longest telegram it ever had received for any individual in Miami.

It was a "best wishes" message to Willie Greenlaw, Husker halfback, and contained more than 2,800 signatures from his home town of Portland, Me.

When stretched out flat it measured just short of the length of the playing field.

Girls Give Pom-Pon

Nebraska’s Governor Crosby and Gov.-Elect Vic Anderson sat in field-level box seats just behind the royalty of the Orange Bowl festival Queen Carolyn Stroupe and her court.

The girls presented red and white pom-pons to the Husker co-captains, Bob Wagner and Bob Smith, just before kickoff.

Midgets in Box

The champion Lincoln midgets occupied a special box next to the Husker band, as guests of the Orange Bowl Committee. They were chaperoned by J. Gordon Roberts and Msgr. Nicholas Wegner of Boys Town.

Show Has Precedent

The Husker and Duke players had to complete their pre-game workouts on the field half an hour before the kick-off to make room for the lavish festival featuring bands and drum majorettes from all high schools in the Miami area.

The musical show lasted half an hour before the game, then was completed between halves.

This was the Big Seven’s turn to be the "home team" so the Husker band of 125 pieces led the parade onto the field. And it outnumbered the Duke band almost 2-1.


More coverage

World-Herald post-game coverage (PDF)

Series history

Nebraska is 0-1 all-time against Duke.

See all games »

1954 season (6-5)

Minnesota Sept. 25
Iowa State Oct. 2
Kansas State Oct. 9
Oregon State Oct. 16
Colorado Oct. 23
Missouri Oct. 30
Kansas Nov. 6
Pittsburgh Nov. 13
Oklahoma Nov. 20
Hawaii Nov. 26
Duke Jan. 1

This day in history

Nebraska has played 27 games on Jan. 1. See them all »

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