LINCOLN — Nebraska came from behind with a surprise aerial wallop to whip Army, 14-9, Saturday.
The winning ticket was a 57-yard pass play which caught the Cadets by surprise, erased a 7-9 half-time deficit and gave the Cornhuskers the margin they so carefully nursed through a tense fourth period.
Pat Fischer, first the goat then the hero, and Bennie Dillard, who brilliant play lifted the Scarlet to victory over Kansas State, collaborated on an aerial blockbuster.
Fischer’s well-timed pitch, a second-down effort, was fired from past mid-field and caught on the Army 20 by the speedy Dillard who had eluded the secondary.
Once he had the ball under control little Bennie knew what to do. He promptly scooted for the end zone, leaving Cadet George Kirschenbauer sprawling on the turf.
The Army safety had whirled for a desperation but futile grab at the elusive Husker.
It was Thunder Thornton’s fake which really made the play go. The Nebraska fullback faked up the middle so cleverly the linebackers were swept from Dillard’s early path and the rushing pressure was eased from Fischer.
There was 6:10 played in the third quarter when Dillard crossed the goal line. Ron Meade’s conversion merely emphasized the Husker bulge.
Just 1:30 before halftime, Fischer had fired the Cornhuskers on a hurried 78-yard touchdown drive which moved the Scarlet within reach of victory.
The busy Fischer, who played 55 of the 60 minutes, started the drive with a sensational 64-yard sprint from the Nebraska 22 to the Army 14.
Pat sprung himself with a cleverly executed booster. He had the ball on his hip, ran behind the line to the right and set sail up the middle.
Only a great effort by Army’s Jim Connors who pinched him at the sidelines kept Pat from going all the way. This same Connors earlier had pulled the same stop to stymie a 41-yard Fischer punt return which appeared touchdown bound.
From the 14 the Huskers used five plays to score. Dillard and Thornton got to the one and Fischer, on a second-down sneak, slipped inside guard, hit an Army lineman and bounced into the end zone.
Meade’s conversion made it 7-9.
During the first quarter with 2:30 left the highly touted Tom Blanda had booted a 27-yard placement to send Army into a 3-0 lead.
Midway in the second quarter Fischer’s miserable effort at fielding an Army punt had set the stage for the Cadet touchdown.
Pat was standing on the Nebraska six when apparently he took his eyes off the ball to take a quick size-up of the onrushing Cadets.
The pigskin popped off Fischer’s chest to the Nebraska nine where Cadet Guard Al Vanderbush curled around it.
Army struck fast and hard with Fullback Al Rushatz scoring from the one.
The Cadets elected to go for broke and when Blanda’s end zone pitch to Connors missed, the 0-9 half-time hurdle was not an impossibility.
Although Husker touchdowns provided the big thrills, the real drama of the game was wrapped up in the last four minutes when Army, taking to the air from its own 25, threatened to overtake the courageous Cornhuskers.
The West Pointers pulled all stops out for an all-out effort.
With Blanda pitching to Connors, John Ellerson and Paul Zmuida Army zoomed from the Cadets’ 25 to the Nebraska 39 in just five plays.
To most of the spectators it appeared Army might be touchdown bound. None of the capacity crowd of 39 thousand moved toward the exits. They were well rewarded for their patience.
For, with 1:45 to play and a second and 10 situation, the Cadets tried to return to the air lanes with Blanda’s pitching.
A pair of Nebraska sophomores combined on the all-important kill.
Scottsbluff’s Larry Donovan, who had relieved his former prep teammate Bill Cornstock, rushing fast collared Blanda as the Cadet thrower cocked his arm to an end zone strike.
Blanda and Donovan crashed to the sod and the ball rolled weirdly from his grasp and into the arms of Dwain Carlson, Fullerton guard.
Carlson’s recovery was on the Nebraska 47 and Meade was inserted to run out the clock.
The sub quarterback used 30 seconds for the first play.
The Army after the next two attempts successfully stopped the clock. With only 10 seconds left Nebraska found itself facing a fourth-down decision whether to run or punt.
The Husker bench chose a sweep and Meade missed by two seconds as he was trapped on the Husker 35.
With Army stopping the clock for the third time, it gained possession with time for one play.
Nebraska coaches were saved from the pain of explaining their late game strategy when Blanda’s long toss to Kirschenbauer in the end zone missed a country mile.
Although some statistics do not indicate Nebraska superiority, it really was a series of unfortunate breaks more than the Army “lonely end” routine which got Nebraska in trouble the first half.
The game was hardly a minute old before the Scarlet passed up its first chance.
This was failure to recover Kirschenbauer fumble of Cobb’s 55-yard punt. Two Huskers had a clear shot at the ball but slid past and it was Cadet Ellerson who recovered on the Army 38.
From this point Army drove into positions for Blanda’s field goal.
On this march the Huskers suffered break No. 2. This was Pat Salerno’s failure to hold onto the ball after a pass interception which saved the Cadets on the Nebraska 18.
The third break to go against Nebraska came late in the second quarter when Mick Tingelhoff with a clear field ahead muffed the piracy of a Blanda pitch to lonely End Robert Fuellhart.
Tingelhoff’s miscue came three plays before Fischer’s fumble set up the Army touchdown.
While the Huskers were plagued by early bad breaks they came up with three fine saves to keep Army away from turning the game into an early rout.
In the opening minutes Husker Guard Tyrone Robertson stymied the first Army threat by recovering Glen Adams’ fumble on the Nebraska seven.
Using the lonely end routine effectively, Army had taken the opening kick-off and marched 57 yards to the Nebraska 12.
Robertson’s recovery went for naught as on the first play Thornton fumbled into the arms of Kirschenbauer on the Nebraska 10.
The Cadets got to the two, then were rolled back to the Nebraska four when Ron McDole, Dennis Steuwe and Comstock clamped a fourth-down stop on Army’s Rushatz.
Nebraska didn’t work out of the hole until early in the second quarter when Fischer cut loose with his 41-yard punt return to midfield.
The Cornhuskers could get only to the Army 43.
Army controlled the ball so decisively the first quarter, Nebraska had possession for only four scrimmage plays.
The Huskers gained possession only four times during a first half which saw the Army holding a 10-2 edge in first downs, 120-103 bulge in rushing and 69-0 in passing.
Nebraska’s answer to the lonely end and his trailer in motion was to send out End Don Purcell and Halfback Pat Clare as defenders.
Although Army connected on seven of 15 pass attempts the first half and hit 11 of 22 for the game, the lonely end antics didn’t bother Nebraska as much as Husker inability to hang onto the football.
Nebraska fumbled four times and lost twice. Army also had its troubles, losing three of six bobbles.
Army ran and passed to 18 first downs as compared with five for Nebraska, had a 202-159 edge rushing and 140-57 spread in passing.
Army had the ball for 77 offensive plays as compared with only 38 for Nebraska.
The win gave Nebraska a 3-2 mark for the first half of the campaign and closed a four-week home stand.
The Cornhuskers now give full attention to the Big Eight chase. They travel to Colorado Saturday.
Nebraska is 3-2 all-time against Army.
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|Kansas State||Oct. 8|
|Oklahoma State||Nov. 12|
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