NORMAN, Okla. – Nebraska, which opened the 1960 football campaign with a spectacular victory at Texas, closed out the season with just as impressive a win Saturday.
The unpredictable Cornhuskers whipped defending champion Oklahoma, 17-14, with one of the most sensational second-half comebacks in Scarlet history.
A crowd which shrank to 41 thousand, mostly Sooner partisans, saw a carbon copy of what it missed in Lincoln a year ago.
The onlookers sat stunned as Nebraska, decisively outplayed the first two quarters, cracked Oklahoma with the whip the Sooners have used so effectively the past 14 years to beat conference foes–power, speed and gilt-edge ball-handling.
When the Huskers started moving after intermission, the Sooner collapse assumed rout dimensions as the Scarlet moved Oklahoma forwards with surprising ease.
The Nebraska linemen, lethargic much of the season, held firm as Thunder Thornton dived over their back for a third-quarter touchdown which shot the Cornhuskers back into the ball game.
These same forwards, with an assist from the hard-running backs, opened the gate which sprang the same Thornton on the 68-yard run which brought a 14-14 stalemate.
And it was the tight bulwark up front that provided a perfect shield for Ron Meade’s 28-yard field goal that broke the deadlock and assured the victory.
During the second-half surge, Oklahoma was so badly disorganized only hastily regrouped defenses stymied two other Husker threats deep in Sooner territory.
The Oklahoma collapse was most apparent during the first Nebraska conversion attempt.
Trailing 6-14, the Huskers elected to go for broke.
Meade, whose later try after the second Nebraska score was blocked, went with the fake and the squatting Pat Fischer took the snapback and headed back as if to pass.
This strategy caught the Oklahomans asleep and the two-point sweep by the speedy Fischer was mere routine.
The clock showed 1:38 left when Meade’s placement lowered the boom.
Two minutes had been played in the fourth quarter when Thornton ripped the Sooners with his 68-yard sprint.
There had been 6:14 played in the third period when Thornton plunged for the first Nebraska touchdown and the Cornhuskers came up with the two-point conversion which jolted the Oklahomans.
With the Saturday victory, Nebraska became the only conference team to whip Oklahoma two years in a row during nearly a quarter of a century.
Biff Jones and Glenn Presnell-coached Cornhusker clubs enjoyed a four-year supremacy from 1939 through 1942.
Oklahoma contributed to its own defeat by being guilty of seven fumbles and losing possession on five occasions.
Two of the bobbles were costly, and in each Quarterback Jim Carpenter was the culprit.
Within reach of a third touchdown in the first half, Carpenter lost control on a keeper from the Nebraska four. Cornhusker End Don Purcell recovered for the save one yard from the end zone.
The other Carpenter boo-boo was a weird pitch-out which missed teammate Mike McClellan. Four Huskers smothered the fumble, with Halfback Clay White getting credit for the recovery.
White gave Nebraska possession on the Husker 22 and the Scarlet then drove relentlessly into position for Meade’s game-winning kick.
The matinee really was two ball games wrapped up in one.
Oklahoma supremacy was so decisive during the opening quarters the chart showed the Sooners owning a 13-4 bulge in downs and 261-78 edge in yardage at the intermission. Nebraska’s after-intermission domination was so terrific the Cornhuskers wound up the game enjoying a 16-15 margin in downs while whipping the Oklahomans at their own game–rushing–to the tune of 277 and 223.
Only in passing did Oklahoma have superiority. The Sooners hit five for 86 while the Nebraska pitched two for 18.
One of these Sooner flips, a toss from mid-field to End Ronnie Payne brought the second Sooner touchdown.
Payne slipped behind the Husker secondary and this mental lapse by Nebraska looked like the back-breaker until the second half uprising.
Veteran OU observers insist Wilkinson’s 1960 team which never has been able to put together 60 minutes of solid football, merely ran true to form in its home finale.
The Sooners signaled possible distress when McClellan fumbled the second half kick-off he should have let filter into the end zone.
Mike picked up the bobbing pigskin on the two and got only to the Sooner 15.
A personal foul violation set the Okies back to their 10 and when Husker Bernie Clay forced a weird Sooner pass to fall incomplete Oklahoma was in a hole from which it never emerged.
Payne’s kick from the end zone bounced to the Oklahoma 46 and with four minutes gone Nebraska set sail.
Clay got the early big bites whit a six-yard sweep and a 14 yard trap. White had started the march and Bennie Dillard kept it alive.
Fischer’s nine-yard pass to White for a first down on the Oklahoma five signaled the score.
Thornton was rushed in and in three dives over the pile had the touchdown. In each of these lunges Thunder was halted in mid-air.
Fischer’s well executed fake and run shoved the Huskers to a 8-14 and the few faithful Nebraskans who had hit the Norman trail came to life.
The Oklahoma rooters, only mildly alarmed at the six-point spread, pressed the panic button when Oklahoma fumbles twice gave Nebraska chances for the go-ahead points.
The first Husker opportunity came a few seconds after the kick-off following the first UN touchdown.
The ball popped from the arms of second-string Fullback Dale Perini and Nebraska’s Al Wellman recovered on the OU 12.
Dennis Stuewe and Warren Powers advanced to Sooner eight before OU Guard Duane Cook wrecked Fischer’s pass plans for an eight yard loss.
When a screen pass to Stuewe was broken up by Tackle Marshall York, Oklahoma took over on its16. Aggressive play by the Nebraska defense forced a Bob Cornell kick which rolled to near mid-field.
Fischer, who was enjoying one of his better afternoons scared the Sooners with a 21-yard fake pass and sideline scamper to the Oklahoma 26. He appeared loose until Sooner Mel Sandersfield shoved him out of bounds.
The Cornhuskers got to the 14 before a center snapback missed Fischer’s hands and Oklahoma Guard H. O. Estes stymied the threat with a recovery on the 13-yard line.
There was time for only a one-yard plunge before the third period ended.
With the wind advantage, Sooner Cornell quick-kicked 70 yards out of bounds on the Nebraska 17-yard line.
This mighty effort would have taken the wind out of most but not the stout-hearted Cornhuskers who in their season finale had hearts filled with desire.
Four plays and Thornton cut loose for his 68-yard trip which tied the score.
Well executed blocking opened the hole and split the secondary with Thornton soloing the last 40 yards.
Payne blocked Meade’s conversion try and the scoreboard read, 14-14.
With the Oklahoma fans cheering madly Payne hustled the kick-off to the Sooner 36 with Fullback Ronnie Hartline blasting away hurried to the Nebraska 17.
Cheers turned to groans when Quarterback Carpenter, whose ground game was moving well, switched to a pitch-out.
Noel Martin pounced on the ball and the last OU bid had bone by the boards.
Martin got possession on the Husker 22. With Clay and Martin moving well Nebraska soon had the ball to mid-field.
When martin’s third down plunge was inches short on the Nebraska 45, Thornton was rushed back into action.
Thunder rammed for three on the fourth-down smash.
When the foe converged on the middle, Fischer rolled out on a naked reverse which caught the Sooners napping as he rambled to the Oklahoma 29.
Clay and Martin moved to the 17 and after two plays had gotten nine yards Fischer, attempting a keeper cut-back, slipped and lost two.
Meade rushed in for the vital field goal.
Oklahoma, behind, had nothing more to offer.
During the first half–when Oklahoma controlled the play the Sooners’ scored–two fairly easy touchdowns and blew a third.
With Hartline, McClelland and Meacham in gear, the Sooners used only a dozen plays to parade 81 yards after receiving the opening kick-off.
McClellan got the score with a quick opener from 23 yards out. He bowled over Nebraska sophomore Larry Donovan on the 10 and was chased by Clay.
Guard Karl Milstead, injured but okayed for specialist chores, made the conversion, the first of two, and before the Huskers had possession, Oklahoma led, 7-0.
Nebraska’s only first-half offensive came following the next kick-off. This drive started from the U.N. 31 and got to the O.U. 27.
Oklahoma moving from the 20 when Cobb’s short kick lit the end zone, marched to the Nebraska 25 before a Carpenter pitch-out went haywire and White stopped the threat with a recovery on the Husker 25.
White’s save was only temporary relief. A few minutes later Carpenter signaled a fair catch on the Oklahoma 48 and in two plays the Sooners had the score 14-0.
The pay-off pitch was a 49-yard-pass-run, Carpenter to Payne.
Payne, a 6-2, 202-pound end, made the grab back of Fischer, Clay and White and had no opposition the last 15 yards.
With two touchdowns on the board, the Sooners muffed a third by a bit of strategy which will have OU Coach Wilkinson explaining to the Monday quarterbacks.
This was a drive which had swept 61 yards to the Nebraska eight with 4:15 to play.
The Oklahoma second unit fired this march and eight yards from pay territory were benched in favor of the first stringers.
On the first play Hartline bucked the middle for four yards. Next Carpenter bobbled a keeper and when Purcell recovered for Nebraska on the one, Sooner die-hards started razzing Coach Bud Wilkinson.
The OU answer was another fumble with McClellan bobbling Cobb’s short kick on the Nebraska 38 one play before the half ended.
Cobb’s punting was the only Nebraska disappointment. Archie averaged only 25 yards on four boots.
His troubles were nothing as compared with the Oklahoma backs who fumbled several times and lost five bobbles.
Big surprise was the failure of Oklahoma’s highly touted Hartline to keep pace with the Nebraska fullbacks. Thornton and Martin, released from injuries for the first time in late season outdueled the Sooner line-buster.
The Huskers were without Halfbacks Pat Clare and Gene Ward. Ward was hospitalized by the flu Thursday night and Clare was hurt last week.
The win gave Nebraska a 4-6 season, same as last year. Wins were over Texas, Army, Oklahoma and Kansas State.
The Cornhuskers, 2-5 for conference play, are in sixth place, a half-game back of Oklahoma State (2-4).
The league season winds up with Oklahoma U. at Oklahoma State Saturday.
Nebraska is 38-45 all-time against Oklahoma.
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