LINCOLN, NE — That mysterious man with the black magic almost missed Nebraska's Big Seven football opener with Iowa State Saturday afternoon.
But he made it — with 45 seconds to spare.
Disguised this year as George Harshman, 19-year-old junior quarterback from Dickerson Run, Pa., He angled a field goal from the 15 to hand the Huskers a 9-7 decision.
An outraged Cyclone squad stalked off the field after seeing the Ames school's colors dipped to Nebraska for the eleventh eleventh consecutive season.
Last year the man with the miraculous formula produced a 10-7 victory on the margin on Don Erway's field goal.
This year he tossed a few extra frills that left the crowd of 30 thousand gasping for breath.
Scrimmaging from its own 20 midway in the final period after big John Scheldrup's punt had zoomed into the end zone. Nebraska began a last-effort march to overcome a 7-0 deficit.
Jerry Brown, Bill Hawkins, Leo George, Willie Greenlaw and Roy Stinnett hugged the ball to the Iowa State 38.
On third down, Greenlaw lost two.
On fourth down with 10 to make, Stinnett hit end Marlin Hilding for the first Husker pass completion of the day. A few grumbling fans walked out as fullback Bill Jensen knocked Hilding off his feet on the 35, five yards short of a first down.
Four minutes remained as Ron Pohl, third-string Cyclone halfback plowed for three yards. More fans hurried toward the exits.
Keep in mind at this point that the Scarlet forwards were still charging hard, still fighting desperately for possession that might save their lives.
And thus the tide turned.
In the face of such pressure sophomore quarterback Terry Ingram cut loose with a wild pitch-out to halfback Chuck Latting. The ball spun on the ground and in the scramble some one kicked it.
Latting raced Huskers Bob Berguin and Brown as the pigskin skittered toward the sideline.
Brown and Berguin won the race and ensuing rassle to give Nebraska one more chance — on the Cyclone 15.
Greenlaw smashed for two. Streaking to his right, Stinnett was stopped 4 and a half yards short of the goal line. Stinnett surged for a yard and a half.
Jack Falter dumped Stinnett for a yard loss. Fred Rippel threw Frank Nappi a yard farther back, Stinnett being hurt on the play.
Harshman took over at quarterback. It was fourth down five to go and one minute remaining. Coach Pete Elliott called for a field goal.
The ball spiraled back to George, who fumbled. Seconds turned to hours as he regrasped the ball and set it in position.
As Cyclone defenders rushed in, Harshman toed the ball for the three most beautiful points Elliott has seen in all his 30 years.
It was strictly anti-climax that Bob Harden of Iowa State fumbled after the kick-off seconds later and Hawkins recovered for Nebraska.
The gun barked and Iowa State players and partisans wept unashamedly.
Perhaps the best that can be said for the game is that it was a typical Iowa State-Nebraska performance.
Nebraska started out smartly, moving the ball from its own 28 to the Cyclone 44 after taking the kick-off.
Then Stinnett bobbled the ball and Marv Walter, a demon defender all afternoon, plucked it out of the air.
The former Farragut, Ia., six-man star sped 55 yards for a touchdown. Scheldrup’s kick made it 7-0 with only three minutes and 25 seconds elapsed.
So Nebraska tried again.
This time the drive carried from the N.U. 34 to the Iowa State 31 before another faulty hand-off was recovered by Walter on the Cyclone 30.
There was no black magic in sight and the Cyclones were primed, one and all, to shatter the embarrassing jinx that has hounded the series with their corn state neighbors.
Jim Lary, junior halfback from Oklahoma City, Okla., almost sewed up the decision. After four plays had advanced the ball to the I.S.C. 41, he swept his own right end for 36 yards to the Nebraska 23.
It was Berguin and Stinnett who finally cut him down.
But the bid fizzled on the nine with Scheldrup missing on a fourth-down field goal.
Not until 2:10 had passed in the second quarter could Nebraska get into the game.
Then it was the explosive Brown, 205-pound junior fullback from Minden, who steamed through the line on a second-down play on the Husker 29.
Jerry literally ripped his way out of the clutches of at least four tacklers on his way to a 71-yard touchdown gallop.
Bennie Dillard, making his Nebraska debut, led the unneeded interference. Larry Naviaux dropped back to cancel the nearest pursuer, Scheldrup.
The Huskers remained on the short end of the count when Naviaux’s kick was wide.
There were only two other plays on importance the first half.
A 48-yard punt by Harshman put Iowa State in a hole on its four-yard line. And a Stinnett pass was intercepted by Harden, the Omaha emigrant, to snuff a Husker drive on the Cyclone 36.
The Huskers got even with Harden in the third, when Berguin and Mike Lee covered his fumble on the Iowa State 46.
Late that period, Cyclone Guard Ron Bredeson stole the ball from Harshman — and La Vern Torczon, one of the staunchest N.U. linemen, recovered a Jensen fumble.
Except for the brief appearance of the old boy with the magic formula, it was that kind of a ball game.
Nebraska is 86-17 all-time against Iowa State.
|South Dakota||Sept. 22|
|Ohio State||Sept. 29|
|Iowa State||Oct. 6|
|Kansas State||Oct. 13|
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