Boulder, Colo. — Nebraska Saturday surprised a homecoming crowd of 41 thousand by forcing unbeaten Colorado the limit before bowing, 27-16.
For nearly 46 minutes the stout-hearted Cornhuskers, three-touchdown underdogs, outplayed the highly-touted Buffaloes.
Colorado partisans sat stunned as the Huskers took command in the opening minutes.
Except for a brief 7-7 deadlock, the Scarlet troops refused to yield until C.U.'s superior manpower forced a fourth-quarter pay-off.
It was more exhaustion than any Colorado margin of superiority that enabled the Buffaloes to stay in the win column.
The breaks that broke the Huskers' backs were crowded into the first minute of the final period.
The Nebraska secondary, under heavy pressure throughout the afternoon, faltered in a goal-line stand against C.U.'s passing attack to let the game out of the bag.
It was a third down and 11 situation when the Buffs got their first break.
This was when Husker Harry Tolly batted down halfback Howard Cook's pitch to quarterback Boyd Dowler in the end zone.
From the press box it appeared Tolly might have made an interception which would have given Nebraska a touchback and possession on its 20.
Tolly's effort did force the Buffs into a fourth-down try.
This time the six-foot-five Dowler outreached Nebraska's five-foot-nine Pat Fischer for an easy catch.
The clock showed only 39 seconds played in the fourth quarter when Colorado went ahead for the first time.
Ellwin Indorf's place kick made the count 20-16.
Five minutes later reserve fullback Chuck Weiss heaved his 202 pounds over from the one for the insurance touchdown.
Jerry Steffen, Crofton, Nebr., sophomore with the Buffs, converted. With the score 27-16, the Colorado partisans got their first relief.
Until Weiss scored, the Colorado rooters sat in a state of shock as the Huskers led, 7-0, then broke a 7-7 deadlock to gain a 13-7 first quarter advantage.
The five thousand faithful who followed the Scarlet to Boulder whooped it up as the Huskers moved out, 16-7 during the second period, then were content with a 16-13 halftime bulge.
Colorado's sputtering start was the result of Buff bobbles and aggressive Cornhusker play.
The Huskers' first score came early and easy.
Don Fricke, Hastings sophomore center, gave Nebraska its chance with a perfect block of Dowler's punt.
When Fricke recovered the football Nebraska was only 13 yards from the end zone.
As Colorado fans suddenly switched their cheers to "Hold that line," the Huskers methodically ground out the yardage in five plays.
Quarterback George Harshman scored on a sneak and converted to give the Huskers a 7-0 spread.
Colorado answered that one — but quick.
On the first scrimmage play Cook swept the Husker left flank for 71 yards and the score. Sherman Pruit and Bob Nagel made the key blocks.
Indorf's place kick produced the bonus point.
To the surprise of the crowd, the sudden C.U. surge didn't disturb the Huskers the least.
Again it was a kick that got Colorado in trouble.
Nebraska's Fischer was the offender. He grabbed Dowler's punt near midfield and never stopped until he was to the Colorado 19.
A two-yard loss on a fumble merely delayed the eager Cornhuskers, who switched to the air for a Harshman pitch to Guy Sapp.
The pass was perfect and Sapp, making a nice catch on the three, whirled into the end zone.
Harshman failed to convert. It was his first miss of the season.
There was 1:49 left in the opening period with Nebraska leading, 13-7.
Harshman made up for this miscue early in the second period by boosting the Husker lead to 16-7 with a field goal from the 20. Nebraska got the chance after recovering Leroy Clark's fumble or the Buff 35 late in the initial period.
Again Colorado answered with a touchdown. Dowler's 11-yard plunge in which he bowled over three tacklers climaxed a 66-yard march after Nebraska's kick-off.
The teams waged a stubborn, scoreless third-quarter battle in which Nebraska chilled C.U. followers by gaining possession in Buff territory.
Dennis Emanuel's recovery of Eddie Dove's fumble signaled this threat. A clipping penalty stymied the bid.
It was the last Nebraska gesture. Midway in the third quarter, the Huskers started to weaken and Colorado moved in for the kill.
Colorado coach Dal Ward abandoned early his plans to save his proteges for Oklahoma at Boulder next Saturday.
He rushed in the injured John Wooten, All-America guard candidate, just prior to Nebraska's second touchdown and all first team hands were on the scene most of the final quarter.
Nebraska is 49-20 all-time against Colorado.
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