Nebraska 33
North Dakota 0

Sept. 23, 1961 • Memorial Stadium, Lincoln

Nebraska’s New Era Dawns Brightly, 33-0

In picture one, Ron Meade appears intent on things up ahead ... when real trouble, like Jack Marron, moves from behind, in the second photo. By the third, Dave Walker adds to the problems and in the fourth, there proves to be no escape. THE WORLD-HERALD

LINCOLN — Twenty-two thousand Nebraska partisans cheered Saturday what they hope will be a new era of winning Cornhusker football.

The crowd, surprisingly large considering the weather and the game, saw the Huskers manhandle North Dakota, 33-0.

The fans watched Coach Bill Jennings sweep the bench for the first time since he took over four years ago.

Forty-six of the Scarlet paraded. The first stringers saw only limited duty after the was in the bag, 21-0, by the half.

The faithful also cheered the greatest outburst of NU scoring since Pete Elliott made his debut with a 34-6 victory over South Dakota in 1956.

Peeking through a light drizzle during the opening minutes, the fans saw the scarlet-jerseyed Cornhusker reveal one of the fiercest defensive displays in Husker history. The Nebraskans rolled the Sioux half the length of the field after the Cornhusker bobble on the opening kick-off had given early hopes.

After the light rain stopped, the happy customers were treated to a modest unveiling of the Jennings version of the pro offense.

The cover was peeled back on the Nebraska bag of tricks far enough to promise a more interesting brand of football this campaign.

Each of the three units delivered a payload.

The second unit scored the first and third touchdowns on a plunge by Bill Comstock and a sneak by Ron Meade.

Old reliable Thunder Thornton, with the first string, scored the second and fourth touchdowns. He bowled over a half dozen Dakotans on a scoring sweep from the six and a pay-off plunge from the five.

Gene Ward of the third-string shock troopers finished the rout with a four-yard touchdown run.
Although badly outclassed, the Dakotans never gave up.

Their ground game shackled to a net 17 yards and their passing game held to 42, the Sioux devoted most of the afternoon to trying to stop the Cornhusker attack.

The Dakotans were moderately successful in defense only when the Huskers were content with routine maneuvers.

Whenever the pattern was varied, air lanes and ground paths opened over which the Huskers moved to a satisfactory 14 first downs, 157 yards rushing and 137 yards in the air.

Dennis Claridge, prize sophomore whose debut has been long awaited, lived up to advance notices. Three of his seven pitched found the target, another was muffed and another just missed in the end zone.

Up front, the margin of Nebraska superiority was so decisive everybody had fun.

The big defensive show was jammed into the first 10 minutes when the Sioux made their only threat. The chance came when Claridge fielded the opening kick-off on the goal line, the slipped five yards out.

When the Nebraska offense sputtered and Archie Cobb’s punt got only to the 38, the Huskers were in early distress.

The ghost of Hawaii started to appear when the Sioux hurried to the Husker 26.

At this moment the Nebraska defenders roared the answer that left no doubt as to the final outcome.

Big Bob Brown spilled Sioux Pepper Lysake for a two-yard loss. Four red shirts smeared passer Bob Glas for a nine-yard loss before he could fire at mated deployed near the end zone.

An illegal receiver downfield coast N.D. 15 yards. When Lysaker dropped back to punt he faced a fourth-down-and-34 situation at midfield.

The Dakotans were further embarrassed when the snapback to punter Lysaker was wild. Husker Larry Tomlinson flattened Lysaker, the would-be retriever, and Jim Huge recovered for Nebraska on the N.D. 24.

When Claridge hit Rudy Johnson with a first-down pass on the eight, the students made ready to signal the first touchdown of the season.

They got this opportunity, but not from the first unit. The regulars stalled when a fourth-down dive buck by Thronton was six inches short.

There was 2:30 left in the first quarter when Jennings sent in the second unit, originally ticketed to split time with the starters.

The reserves needed little more than a minute to justify Bill’s confidence.

On the second play, the Scarlet inside defense smeared a hand-off and Nebraska’s Al Fischer curled around the ball on the North Dakota two.

Comstock smashed across on the first play and Meade kicked the conversion.

Riding the 7-0 lead into the second quarter, Nebraska got two insurance touchdowns by halftime.
Claridge’s seven-yard pass to Huge loosened the Sioux defense as the first drive started from the N.D. 46.

Thornton and Claridge got 11-yard bites and Pat Clare a six-yard nip.

With a second-and-goal situation, Thunder peeled off the five necessary to score in the corner. Guard Dwain Carlson got the key block.

Meade converted again and the Huskers were away, 14-0.

The spread became 21-0 as soon as the ball changed hands after the ensuing kick-off.

End Don Purcell forced the issue when he smeared Sioux Dave Walker on the North Dakota 10 to force a punt.

Glas’s kick got only to the North Dakota 38 and Nebraska marched in.

Bernie Clay and Willie Ross made the heavy contributions with Meade diving in from one foot out after Ross had failed from the one.

The Huskers played the second half under wraps and scored in each of the closing quarters.

Huge’s interception of a pass and his 10-yard hustle to the North Dakota 19 set up the third-period touchdown. Thornton scored from the five on the fourth play.

The 52-yard drive to the last touchdown started late in the third quarter.

Meade found End McDaniel five times in six tries for the aerial barrage which ate up 52 of the 62 yards necessary when the Huskers drew two penalties.

Gene Ward, making his debut at fullback, bolted over from the five.

This was the third opening game victory in five years by Jennings’s Nebraska teams. The Huskers beat Texas, 14-13, last year and Penn State, 14-7, in 1958; lost to Washington State, 34-12, in 1957 and to Texas, 20-0, in 1959.


More coverage

World-Herald post-game coverage (PDF)

Series history

Nebraska is 1-0 all-time against North Dakota.

See all games »

1961 season (3-6-1)

North Dakota Sept. 23
Arizona Sept. 30
Kansas State Oct. 7
Syracuse Oct. 14
Oklahoma State Oct. 21
Missouri Oct. 28
Kansas Nov. 4
Iowa State Nov. 11
Colorado Nov. 18
Oklahoma Nov. 25

This day in history

Nebraska has played 8 games on Sept. 23. See them all »

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