AUSTIN, Texas — Nebraska knocked Texas off its high perch on the nation’s football pedestal Saturday night.
As a shortsleeved crowd of 40 thousand watched, the Cornhuskers outhustled the Longhorns for a 14-13 victory.
Fought in 80 degree heat, it was Nebraska which showed the greater strength at the finish.
Behind by 0-7 in the first quarter, the Huskers came back to press, 6-7 at halftime, then take 14-7 command in a thrilling third quarter.
The brilliant Pat Fischer exploded the Nebraska powder which blasted the highly touted orange forces of Texas.
Fischer’s 76-yard punt return, largely and individual effort, got the Scarlet back in the game during the second quarter.
Pat’s neatly executed keeper — in which his teammates collaborated magnificently in faking maneuvers — enabled him to scamper one-yard into pay territory standing up for the touchdown which moved Nebraska ahead.
And, it was Fischer’s perfect pitch to Willian (Thunder) Thornton in the end zone which produced the all-important two-point conversion after the second tally. Ron Meade, who missed his lone conversion attempt, carried out the fake on the play.
While it was Nebraska’s offensive punch which earned the victory, a determined defense in the closing minutes protected the spoils.
These defensive maneuvers, just as important as the scoring thrusts, were crowded into the last six minutes.
The tense moments came after Texas had scored the touchdown which moved the Longhorns to within one point at 13-14.
At the time the Nebraska machine appeared to be running out of gas.
Having seen Nebraska gamble for two points and succeed, Texas elected to go for the winning ticket.
The play called for Quarterback Mike Cotton to carry on the keeper play. The Huskers diagnosed the situation quickly and the entire right side of the Nebraska line swarmed the frantic Texan more than a yard from the goal line.
The Longhorns had covered 63 yards in eighteen plays to get their second touchdown.
With 6:15 left in the game Texas got only one more chance at victory.
This came after the Longhorns had stalled the Nebraska attack for three downs deep in Scarlet territory after the kick-off which followed the second Texas touchdown.
Archie Cobb, sophomore whose booming, high punts had the Longhorns continually in distress, had the answer.
His pressure kick was so high Texas safety Jimmy Saxton could get back only four to the Longhorn 38.
Coach Darrell Royal, who had opened his bag of tricks the second half, reached deeper into the burlap for two pass plays which for a couple of minutes threatened to pull the game out of the fire.
Cotton passed to sophomore Fullback Ray Poage for five yards then flipped to End Larry Cooper for thirty.
The pass was a heart-breaker for the hard-pressed Nebraskans. Cotton lost control of the ball, retrieved it after it had popped high in the air, then got off the pass while knocked off balance by a Husker tackler.
Cooper made the catch near the sidelines and was knocked out of bounds by Fischer on the Nebraska 13.
Texas got no further.
With Bill Comstock, Scottsbluff sophomore, putting on the rush act and Tackle George Haney joining in on the kill, passer Cotton was knocked down on the Nebraska 23 for a loss of 10.
Scarlet jerseys again poured in on Cotton’s second attempt and Thornton batted the ball out of the outstretched hands of Poage.
Third down and 20 to go Texas, deciding to go for the field goal, sent Poage through the middle to hold position in front of the posts.
In came place kicker Ray Barton whose conversion had enabled Texas to enjoy a 7-6 spread at the intermission.
This time his toe failed. As the try from the 23 slithered off short and to the left, the Texas rooters started moving toward the exits.
Only 30 seconds remained and Quarterback Meade, who had relieved the tired Fischer, used only two plays to run out the clock.
During their spectacular defensive stand which protected the victory, the hardworking Nebraskans had five discouraging breaks.
In addition to the juggling feat of Cotten, four times the officials called for fourth down measurements. Each time the Longhorns got their yardage by the length of the football.
Fischer’s sensational punt return was almost a dead ringer of last year’s run against Texas which was nullified by penalty.
This time the senior from Omaha Westside set sail down the west sidelines and there were no flags thrown.
The five hundred Nebraskans in the stands whooped it up and were still cheering when the usual reliable toe of Meade failed. His kick was wide to the left.
Surprisingly, it was Nebraska which threatened during the 12 minutes that remained in the first half.
Thanks to a pass interception by Mick Tingelhoff, the Huskers took over on the Scarlet 45 and moved to the Texas 31 when the halftime gun popped.
Jimmy Saxton, hero in the Longhorn victory at Lincoln last year, set up Nebraska’s winning touchdown.
His quick kick, poorly executed and timed so slowly Nebraska backs had time to retreat downfield, slithered off his foot for only 30 yards.
Halfback Pat Clare, retrieved the ball near the sidelines, got back to the Texas 34.
Nebraska used 10 plays and two first downs to score.
Fischer got the big bite, a 16-yard keeper which caught the Longhorns napping.
Thornton and Clare hurried to a first down on the six.
Bernie Clay led off with three yards, then joined Thornton in adding two more.
For the fourth-down try. Fischer shot Thornton into the line. The Longhorn forwards rose en masse to smother Thunder but they overlooked the slippery Fischer who had kept the ball and spun around the Texas right flank.
Nebraska’s victory was no fluke.
The Cornhuskers, with green hands at key positions, didn’t crack under heavy pressure nor did they become flustered when behind.
There were no injuries. The word from the Nebraska dressing room was that all hands will be ready for the Minnesota home inaugural Saturday.
“It was a helluva ball game … that’s just what it was,” Coach Jennings said as he stripped for a relaxing shower.
“We’ll put that one right in the book with last year’s OU (Oklahoma) victory, right in the top drawer.
“It was a tremendous team effort by a lot of guys who wanted to win or nothing.”
Jennings praised sophomore Halfbacks Bernie Clay and Thunder Thornton for having done especially well,” but insisted, “You could name them all, Comstock, Toogood, all of them…”
Was Jennings surprised at the outcome?
He grinned a weary grin and said:
“I don’t know.”
Nebraska is 4-10 all-time against Texas.
|Iowa State||Oct. 1|
|Kansas State||Oct. 8|
|Oklahoma State||Nov. 12|
Nebraska has played 10 games on Sept. 17. See them all »
©2019 BH Media Group