Memorial Stadium, Lincoln—Tall, tough Denny Claridge cracked Nebraska’s many offensive whips with a vengeance Saturday as Iowa State was turned back, 36-22, in the first Big Eight Conference test for both schools.
A crowd of 34 thousand saw Nebraska push its record to 3-0 while running up its biggest score against the Cyclones since 1954.
Knocked off balance when the Huskers swept 70 yards to score after the opening kick-off, the Iowans couldn’t get organized until the second half.
With its linemen throwing their weight superiority around to excellent advantage, and its backs punching at every sector of the defense, Nebraska rammed through for touchdowns four of the first five times it had the ball.
This blitz produced a 28-0 advantage halfway through the second quarter.
Meanwhile, Iowa State had managed to get off only seven running and passing plays. Two of these efforts resulted in lost yardage. On another, Guard Gary Toogood intercepted a pass by Dave Hoppmann.
The losers were unable to use Dave Hoover, their No. 1 ball-carrying replacement, who was felled by a virus infection.
But even more significant, Nebraska achieved its mastery without the services of Halfback Dennis Stuewe, its leading ground-gainer, and despite the loss of Fullback Thunder Thornton before a point had been scored.
Thornton, who had provided two touchdowns at Michigan the previous week, was benched with a pulled tendon after only seven minutes of the Iowa State battle.
With Claridge on the rampage, there wasn’t any slack.
Thrown into a head-to-head comparison with Tailback Hoppmann, Iowa State’s fine All-America candidate, Nebraska’s junior quarterback came through with a great performance.
Claridge wheeled his 6-3, 208-pound frame over the goal line for three touchdowns and passed to End Jim Huge on a 44-yard scoring thrust.
He punted twice for a 40-yard average and blocked savagely when not handling the ball.
Hoppmann ran for one score and passed for another. He returned two kick-offs for 46 yards and also doubled as a blocker.
Claridge clearly had the better supporting cast. In the backfield, his ablest mate was Willie Ross, 189-pound junior who blistered Iowa State’s ends with 13 assaults that netted 86 yards.
Nebraska’s more spectacular line play included the blocking and tackling of giant Guard Bob Brown, Huge’s four pass receptions for 83 yards, Tyrone Robertson’s block of a punt and two fumble recoveries by End Larry Tomlinson.
There was line play of bruising excellence from end to end and from first team to third that will be more completely catalogued today when Coach Bob Devaney and his staff studies the movies.
Although Iowa State was to make a valiant second-half effort—one that prompted Devaney to keep Claridge working with all backfields until Nebraska’s final four offensive plays—the Cyclones simply had no answer to Nebraska’s speed, power and versatility for the first 30 minutes.
Senior Warren Powers, again doubling at halfback and fullback, made a 16-yard return of the opening kick-off to give the Huskers early momentum.
Nebraska needed 18 plays to cover 70 yards but there was only one flicker of doubt and that was erased when Thornton bucked for a fat yard on fourth down and inches to make at the Cyclone 30.
Seconds later, Rudy Johnson whipped around his left end for six yards and a first down on the 18. And just two plays later, Claridge traveled through an inviting hole on the right side for 10 yards and a first down on the six.
Claridge then nosed right of center for four yards. Guard Dick Walton stopped Fullback Gene Young on the one, but on third down Claridge drove in through the left side as Powers and Young spread the defense with slick fakes.
Since this had been bally-hooed as a possible kicking game, particularly with rain predicted, there was some dismay when the conversion play went haywire.
Jim Baffico was prepared to kick, but Powers juggled a high snap from center and then had to run for it. Walton and Otis Williams caught him short of the goal.
However, kicks became meaningless as the score soon soared—and it never did rain.
When Iowa State failed to manufacture a first and 10 on its first offensive opportunity, Nebraska drove 80 yards for touchdown No. 2.
The third Husker probe almost went all the way, Tomlinson taking a Claridge pass for 38 yards to the Cyclone 22. The last defender, Dave Clayberg, pulled him down.
A piling penalty against rookie George Crayton helped Nebraska hurry to the five in two plays. Claridge knocked off two yards, then sent Powers into the middle for six points.
This time Nebraska harvested two conversion points on Claridge’s toss to Huge in the end zone.
Toogood’s interception foiled the visitors shortly after the next kick-off. In return, the visitors foiled Nebraska for the first time when Mike Cox broke up Claridge’s third down pass on the first play of the second period.
Iowa State still couldn’t move—this time mainly because of Brown’s thundering charge and tackle that dumped Hoppman for a nine-yard loss on first down.
For its third score, Nebraska required to hustle the ball a relatively short span of 47 yards.
Ross was the workhorse and Nebraska benefited from Tommy Vaughn’s interference on a Claridge-Huge pass. That put the ball on the Cyclone six, first and 10.
Powers bulled to the two and Claridge overpowered Guard Chuck Steimle to score. It was 22-0 after Ross snatched a pitch-out from Claridge and swept his right end.
Although penalties on two consecutive kick-off plays finally gave Iowa State possession on its 48, the Ames squad continued to wallow in misfortune.
A first-down hand-off from Larry Switzer to Hoppmann was fumbled, and Tomlinson recovered on the enemy 44.
Then came the game’s most breath-taking strike.
Claridge dropped back as two colleagues faked into the line. He arched a picture-book aerial to Huge, who made a galloping catch on the 13 and outsped Dick Limerick to the end zone.
The score remained at 28-0 when Claridge’s conversion pass to Huge failed.
That was the game but no fan with Nebraska residence was ready to leave.
Iowa State immediately put together its first march on runs by Ed Kimbrough, Hoppmann and Clayberg and an 11-yard toss from Hoppmann to Limerick.
With the ball on the 22, Vaughn exhibited impressive speed and power on a scoring gallop around his left end and down the sideline.
He breezed through a string of half a dozen Huskers, zoomed through the end zone and bounced off the picket fence in front of the south bleachers.
Larry Schreiber’s kick cut the deficit to 7-28, where it remained until intermission.
An early third-quarter threat by Iowa State died on Nebraska’s three as the 259-pound Brown grabbed Switzer’s pass intended for End Larry Montre standing on the goal line.
Three plays later, Claridge dropped the ball as he pulled back from the center. Cox recovered for Iowa State on the N.U. seven.
On fourth down and two yards from the goal, Switzer shoveled the ball back to Hoppmann, who floated a soft pass to Limerick in the end zone. Schreiber again converted.
Starting on its 29, Nebraska danced and slammed to the Iowa State 21 before relinquishing the ball on rookie End John McGonegle’s jarring fourth-down tackle of Ross on the 19.
This came early in the fourth quarter.
When Clayberg attempted a quick kick a minute later, Nebraska flexed its defensive muscle.
Robertson charged into the kick and Tomlinson pounced on the free ball on the 18. A piling infraction by Tom Parish advanced the ball to the nine.
On third down, Claridge wedged over from the one behind Center Ron Michka. Claridge’s pass to Tomlinson in the end zone added an easy two points.
One tremendous, strong-hearted exhibition by Hoppmann closed the scoring.
Hoppmann returned the kick-off 16 yards. Ozzie Clay lost two yards on his first offensive appearance of the year. Kimbrough got back one yard.
Hoppmann now was at quarterback and in command.
Already sweat-stained and muddied, he ran or passed on 13 straight plays.
In a fourth-down situation and with five to make from the N.U. 10, Hoppmann passed to Limerick on the three. Hoppmann then completed the gutty drive by knifing through the middle.
He deserved the touchdown; Iowa State deserved the points.
Vaughn contributed two more when he shot past Ross on a conversion.
Late heroics notwithstanding, Nebraska deserved the handsome victory.
|Yards per carry||4.1||3.8|
Nebraska is 86-17 all-time against Iowa State.
|South Dakota||Sept. 22|
|Iowa State||Oct. 6|
|North Carolina State||Oct. 13|
|Kansas State||Oct. 20|
|Oklahoma State||Nov. 17|
|Miami (FL)||Dec. 15|
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