LINCOLN — Spirited play took much of the sting out of an expected Nebraska defeat Saturday.
The Huskers closed their losingest football season in a 32-7 tussle with Oklahoma’s Big Eight champions.
Coming as mercy killers, Bud Wilkinson’s Sooners got slapped in the face by the victim in the first five minutes.
The early Cornhusker score, acclaimed as the highlight of the season by a surprising crowd of 30 thousand, was produced on Nebraska’s first drive.
Halfback Larry Naviaux’s 16-yard sprint and quarterback Harry Tolly’s 15-yard pitch to end Max Martz sparked a Husker thrust from the O.U. 37 to the six.
After Doug Thomas’s pass to Mike Lee fell incomplete, Thomas reversed his role and rook a southpaw toss from Naviaux for the touchdown.
It was Nebraska’s first touchdown in three games and its only aerial score of the year.
Dick Prusia’s kick made it 7-0, a quarter report that must have provoked gasps in other stadiums across the nation.
There was no occasion for startled reaction at the half, however, with the Sooners out front, 18-7.
And it could have been much worse had O.U. not recovered all six of its fumbles the first two quarters—and had the Scarlet not been so stubborn on defense.
Following the Nebraska shocker, Oklahoma stormed downfield 72 yards to the enemy eight. On fourth down, Marlin Hilding, Mike Cowan and Duane Mongerson flattened halfback Brewster Hobby for a yard loss.
A couple of minutes later, Oklahoma started another push but was thwarted by Jerry Brown’s punt-forcing tackle on third down.
The champs were denied again early in the second period.
They covered 59 yards, 50 of which came on a toe dance by Clendon Thomas. He was sprung by an odd play on which the team lined up some yards to the left of center Bob Harrison.
Harrison delivered a long, underhand pass to Thomas, who swung to his left and jigged down the sideline. Martz finally bumped him out on the 10.
Oklahoma had three cracks at the goal from the two-yard line and gave up the ball on the one.
When Tolly wedged to the four and punted. Thomas returned 21 yards to the Husker 14 and Oklahoma was ready to do business.
The Sooner line split wide with second down on the 12. When the Huskers followed suit, quarterback David Baker pranced through a spacious hole at left guard for a touchdown.
The visitors drove 57 yards for their second marker after Nebraska failed to muster a first down.
Hobby, a 5-9, 165-pound sophomore, carried on five of the dozen plays. He got a final six yards on a fake pass with 4:20 left in the half.
Late in the second quarter, when Thomas bobbled a pass from Naviaux and burly Dennit Morris recovered, Oklahoma marched 38 yards to score in four plays.
Jakie Sandefer’s romp around right end from the 12 made him the cashier. Oklahoma showed no concern over its failure to convert for a third straight time.
If there was still a Nebraska optimist in the crowd, he was crushed on the kick-off that opened the second half.
The ball bounced deep in U.N. territory, then dribbled past Carroll Zaruba into the end zone.
Zaruba would have been spared his ensuing embarrassment had the ball rolled out of the end zone.
But it stopped in touchdown territory as a free ball.
Too late, the Fullerton sophomore gave chase. End Joe Rector dived onto the ball for the fourth and easiest Oklahoma score.
Midway in the third Oklahoma moved from its 36 to the final touchdown.
Scrimmaging from the one, quarterback Baker found himself hemmed by a pair of defenders and flipped between them to Hobby, who knifed through right tackle for the points.
The only serious threat in remaining play came on a Husker drive engineered by Roy Stinnett.
End Clarence Cook made a remarkable catch of a Stinnett pass for 36 yards as the team went from its 31 to the Sooner 31/2.
Brown replaced Gene Haman at fullback on fourth down but was pinned for no gain.
Wilkinson declined to call on his third team until only four minutes remained.
So the fans saw plenty of defensive giants such as tackle Byron Searcy, guard Bill Krisher and center Bob Harrison.
Oklahoma’s Thomas, the All-America bidder, carried only four times but gained 75 yards.
Baker, collecting 71 yards, and Hobby, who totaled 57, were the mainstays on offense as Oklahoma hiked its season record to 8-1.
In suffering its ninth defeat in 10 games, Nebraska got sizable rushing production only from Naviaux and Brown. Jim Hergenreter, sophomore back from Sterling, Colo., who has been used sparingly, ran well.
Unheralded by statistics was the tremendous defensive game by Brown.
The Minden senior had good help but he obviously was the ringleader in a defiant stand that gave Husker loyalists some measure of satisfaction.
Nebraska is 38-45 all-time against Oklahoma.
|Washington State||Sept. 21|
|Kansas State||Oct. 5|
|Iowa State||Nov. 9|
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