Nebraska 14
Arizona 14

Sept. 30, 1961 • Memorial Stadium, Lincoln

Cornhuskers Should Count Blessings After 14-14 Draw

With a Band Day background, Jim Huge (inset) is about to cuddle a touchdown. JOHN SAVAGE/THE WORLD-HERALD

LINCOLN — Dwarfed by Arizona’s 367-134 superiority in total yardage, Nebraska’s football team did well to salvage a 14-14 tie Saturday afternoon.

Arizona zipped through and around the Cornhuskers while exhibiting the greatest over-all team speed seen here since Bear Bryant’s remarkable Texas A. and M. sophomores raced to a 27-0 victory in 1955.

The visitor’s futile efforts to try a field goal as time ran out added to the impression that Nebraska should count its blessings.

Arizona had the ball on the Nebraska 26 with Quarterback Eddie Wilson shouting for a snapback.

Wilson last season kicked goals of 26 and 30 yards.

However, on this occasion the ball never got to kicking position.

Arizona suffered little from the fact that Wilson, a senior, had his poorest day as a collegiate passer. He delivered only five of 13 aerials.

But with Nebraska setting up a collapsing defense in an attempt to cope both with ground speed and an overhead assault, Halfback Bobby Lee Thompson took up the slack.

He rambled for 177 net yards, including a touchdown sprint of 24 that enabled the Wildcats to pull even.

Arizona softened the Husker line with formations with one, two and three flankers, then buckled the defenses with trap plays.

With the ball on the other side of the line, Arizona erected a tenacious defense headed by Linebacker Bob Garis, 194-pound senior who seldom could be muscled out of the way.

Imagine Thunder Thornton losing nine more yards than he gained in seven carries. Chalk that up to Garis and company — but don’t overlook the fact that the Husker halfback had difficulty getting traction on a far-from-perfect field.

Despite the surprising score, Coach Bill Jennings could be pleased with numerous facets of Nebraska’s performance.

Jim Huge, the durable junior end from Holdrege, had another sparkling day.

It was Huge who gave Nebraska the jump on the first play of the second quarter when he eluded one defender in the end zone, then tucked away a wobbly touchdown pass from Quarterback Denny Claridge.

That play followed an interference call on the Arizona four, the officials ruling that Joe Hernandez jostled Dennis Stuewe as he tried to reach a Claridge pitch.

Ron Meade, whose shoe should be cast in bronze after graduation, kicked the first of his conversion for a 7-0 margin.

Later in the same period, Nebraska was to regret a decision based on good percentage football.

With only a couple of inches to make on fourth down and the ball just inside the Husker 35, Archie Cobb was sent in to punt. Not many minutes remained in the half and after all, Nebraska was nursing a seven-point advantage.

But Arizona scrimmaged from its 38 and drove all the way in eight plays. The giant gainer was a 40-yard burst by Thompson, who was driven out of bounds on the NU 16 by Warren Powers.

The Wildcats pushed on to the seven, from where Wilson fired down the middle to the eager mitts of six-foot-three End John Renner beyond the goal line.

Both Renner and End Larry Williams returned to the end zone for Wilson’s two point conversion pass but neither could grab it.

Nebraska ran its advantage to 14-6 with less than four minutes gone in the second half.

Guard Tyrone Robertson made the touchdown possible by pouncing on an erratic pitch-out on the Arizona 22.

Garis barged in to rassle Thornton for a seven-yard loss. But Claridge’s pass to Stuewe was good to the 15 and Rudy Johnson, another rookie who deserves praise, scooted to the six.

Stuewe then barreled around his left end to elude the swift Hernandez and score with the other 21 contestants all on their feet.

To the dismay of 33 thousand Band Day fans, Arizona snapped back for the game’s longest drive.

It originated on Arizona’s 21 and thrived on a Husker defense that often had only a four-man line with two close linebackers.

Twenty yards were contributed on four thrusts by Fullback Ted Christy, a converted lineman. After he plunged from the NU 30 to the 24, Thompson outsprinted Husker Bernie Clay around Arizona’s right side and into the end zone.

Five minutes and 40 seconds remained in the third quarter.

Still tough in the clutch, Wilson wiped out the two-point deficit with a pass to Williams.

Arizona almost added a touchdown on the third play of the final quarter. Thornton managed to pull Thompson down on the Nebraska 12 after the spectacular runner had covered 34 yards.

A clipping penalty and a great pass-defense play by Stuewe eventually stalled Arizona on Nebraska 23. Wilson tried a fourth-down field goal with the ball on the 30 but the boot was short.

Nebraska fired up for good momentum midway in the fourth. The drive died after Stuewe re-injured an ankle, and was forced out of the game.

Another opportunity came with 2:09 remaining when Thornton’s tackle separated Christy and the ball, and Pat Clare recovered on the Husker 45.

Still throwing his weight around, Co-Captian Garis smeared those hopes by breaking up a fourth-down pass from Claridge to Clay.

Wilson picked up 37 yards with a pair of passes, but couldn’t squeeze in a third play for the field goal effort.


More coverage

World-Herald post-game coverage (PDF)

Series history

Nebraska is 1-1 all-time against Arizona.

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 11 games on Sept. 30. See them all »

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