MANHATTAN, Kan. — Nebraska's Bill Bomberger, down on his luck after missing four straight field-goal tries in three games, had a change of fortunes at just the right time Saturday.
His 31-yard boot with 1:11 left bailed the Huskers out of what would have been one of the biggest football upsets in Big Eight Conference history.
Bomberger, the sophomore from Columbus, never looked up as he calmly split the uprights to give the Huskers a 16-14 comeback victory over Kansas State.
Also sharing hero laurels in Nebraska's rise off its muddy backside was End Dennis Richnafsky. The Pennsylvanian's school record pass-receiving performance gave Bomberger an opportunity to get on the scoreboard.
Down 14-0, after one quarter because of two lost fumbles, the Huskers continually struck back. But they couldn't strike as often as they should have, falling short at the 12 and the three on two drives.
Richnafsky's thirteenth reception of the afternoon, all from the strong arm of Quarterback Frank Patrick, came with 2:23 to play at the Kansas State 15-yard line.
Two plays later, on fourth down and nine, Bomberger settled the issue with his second field goal of the season.
Upon Bomberger's success, the Nebraska bench turned into a joyous bunch of sophomores, which is exactly what a lot of them are.
It was surely another step in molding a conference contender with a young team. They had to grow up in giant strides to win after giving away two first-quarter touchdowns not normally conductive to a great comeback.
Nebraska had a handy statistical edge over Kansas State. But the Huskers had all kinds of difficulty getting there on the scoreboard. And that's where it counts.
N.U. led in first downs, 21-7, and in total yards, 307 to 109.
N.U.'s rushing defense again did a great job, limiting Kansas State to 15 yards and keeping the home standers out of Nebraska territory on all but one play in the second half.
But Nebraska has been fumbling a lot this fall. Two were lost to the foe here. Both resulted in Kansas State touchdowns.
Fumble No. 1 came when Patrick tried the quarterback option for the first time and was solidly whacked by Bill Salat.
The free ball was covered by K-State's Ken Eckardt on the Nebraska 11.
Six thrusts at the Husker Black Shirts produced an edge 20 thousand fans had come in the rain to see.
Four plays after the kick-off, Ben Gregory fumbled and Eckhardt again was Kansas State's man of the hour. The ball this time was out on the 39.
Quarterback Bill Nossek got it to the one with three pass plays — to Dave Jones for 12, Art Strozier for nine and Dave Balducci for 15.
Cornelius Davis, held to a 1.3 rushing average this day, made the successful plunge over the goal for a second time in six minutes.
The count with only 12 minutes gone was 14-0.
For the first time, sophomore Patrick had to direct N.U. when it trailed.
With 9:13 left in the half, Nebraska started its first scoring drive from Kansas State's 47.
Key plays included a Patrick pass to Richnafsky for a first down at the 30 and a 20-yarder to Tom Penney at the seven.
Two plays later, Patrick flipped five yards into the end zone where Richnafsky all but swallowed the ball to insure the completion.
It was Nebraska's first score of the season on a pass, but the Patrick-Richnafsky marriage wasn't nearly over.
Twenty-seven yards on two of their completions got N.U. into gear again but Patrick was nailed looking for him from the 23 on third down and K-State's Bill Kennedy crashed in for the tackle.
That brought Bomberger in for a field-goal try from the 30. It was straight enough, but far short.
After intermission, Nebraska did everything but run new Coach Vince Gibson's team out of the stadium.
The Huskers drove from their own 32 to the K-S three where Patrick missed on a touchdown pass to Richnafsky because the end fell on the slippery turf.
Nebraska's second score followed the shortest punt of the day by Bob Colbe, a 32-yarder that Al Larson returned to K-State's 38.
Patrick ran for five, then he turned to the always open Richnafsky for 11. Dick Davis ran for 10 to the 12, Gregory carried four times for the score.
Co-Captain Ben, last year's leading scorer, then had his first touchdown of the season. Bomberger, though, missed his point-after kick when Kennedy got through to partially block it.
Coble, who averaged 44 yards on 10 punts, sailed a 54-yarder to Nebraska's 15 with six minutes to play.
Time was about to run out on Nebraska, especially when the situation reached third and seven on the N.U. 18.
Patrick then strayed from Richnafsky on this passing situation and hit Fullback Davis over the center. Davis scooted to a first down at the 33.
At the 39, Patrick ran for a first down. Then woes began to set it. Two straight Danny Lankas tackles left a third and 10 situation at the K-S 40.
Davis was the pass target again but he gained only six and it was fourth and four. Richnafsky was the man and would have had the pass except that Mike Duncan was guilty of pass interference. It was the same as a completion, that penalty.
Patrick went right back to Richnafsky who whirled in front of a Wildcat defender at the 15 and caught a whizzing pass.
Big Frank missed his favorite target then hit Dennis Morrison for a short one after Davis lost two yards running. It was fourth and nine and time for Bomberger to save the day.
The victory was N.U.'s third straight and first in conference play.
Mindful that the running attack had only 114 yards (just 10 by soph Joe Orduna), the Huskers will hope for sunnier weather when they return to Kansas this Saturday to meet K.U.
Nothing can be more hectic than the Wildcat's den.
|Yards per carry||0.4||2.2|
Nebraska is 78-15 all-time against Kansas State.
|Kansas State||Oct. 7|
|Iowa State||Nov. 4|
|Oklahoma State||Nov. 11|
Nebraska has played 17 games on Oct. 7. See them all »
©2019 BH Media Group