SEATTLE, Wash. — In this corner-of-the-map city, long a gateway to exploration and adventure, Nebraska's largely immature football team Saturday made an important discovery — that it assuredly is capable of playing good football.
Bunching two touchdowns and a field goal in the second quarter, Nebraska turned back the University of Washington, 17-7, before a crowd estimated at 57 thousand.
It was a bright, boiling-hot day. At an official station two miles distant it was 85 at kick-off. A Washington spokesman said it was an unofficial 105 degrees on the field.
Electric fans cooled the Washington bench, which was in the sun.
One-yard touchdown plunges by Dick Davis and Frank Patrick were enough to accomplish the mild upset. Odds here Saturday morning had made the optimistic Huskies three-point favorites.
Bill Bomberger, one of the numerous rookies who made their debuts with Nebraska, added two conversions and a 20-yard field goal.
That heavy-handed N.U. defense, meanwhile, was all the good things that had been said about it in pre-game ballyhoo.
Never did Washington take the ball and drive it home. the host team got on the scoreboard only through the individual brilliance of veteran Quarterback Tom Sparlin who ran 48 yards in the second period after being throttled on a passing attempt.
A sophomore defender, Lincolnite Dana Stephenson, put on the finishing touches late in the fourth quarter when he intercepted a Sparlin pass and returned it 56 yards.
Coincidentally, Stephenson wears jersey No. 36, the numerals glorified the past three seasons by All-American Larry Wacholtz, a record setting interceptor.
Twelve Huskers, seven on the offensive platoon, were starters for the first time in varsity competition.
They included Quarterback Frank Patrick, on whose poise and skills Nebraska's season-long success may so heavily lean.
Patrick ran the offense for all but one sequence, when junior Al Fierro took over. Patrick wasn't another Bob Churchich in his pitchouts. He has a tendency, perhaps, to throw too hard on short passes.
But the youngster generally handled the ball well, and made expert use of a fleet of dangerous ball carriers while leading Nebraska to substantial command in total yardage, 301-189.
Patrick completed nine of 24 passes for 92 yards in the teeth of Washington's highly respected secondary. He did not suffer the deflation of a single interception.
Top man among the receivers was Danny Morrison. The Omahan bagged four for 35 yards
The most effective runner was Ben Gregory, the old reliable, with 63 yards on 19 sorties. Close behind with 60 on 13 efforts — for a fancy 4.6 yard average — was sophomore Joe Orduna, the former Omaha Central football and track athlete.
Orduna seemed repeatedly to be within one stride or one block of getting completely away. His was a most impressive first game.
Selectors who liked Washington invariably cited the punting and placement ability of Don Martin. He did add one extra point. His only field goal attempted from 41 yards out; it fell wide to the left.
Martin made no play that was more important than Stephenson's punt early in the third period after Washington had put Nebraska in a deep, deep hole.
Wayne Meylan, whose performance vigorously polished his all-America stock, killed a Washington drive with a third-down stop of Fullback Jim McCabe.
Martin's 40 yard punt went to sophomore Al Larson, 200 pound former Sioux City Central trackman. As Larson clutched the ball, he was driven back and out of bounds on the Nebraska four.
Orduna made life interesting when he fumbled on first down. Mel Brichacek recovered on the four.
Dean Halvorsen stopped Davis after two yards. On third down, Orduna was held for no gain.
Stephenson went into a very lonely, very dangerous end zone to punt. The kick he launched traveled an official 46 yards and gave Nebraska much-appreciated breathing room.
The cool punting by Stephenson and the placements by Bomberger, former Columbus athlete, suggested that Nebraska's kicking will not be a major problem.
Rough spots in this initial test of Coach Bob Devaney's least-experienced team included the loss of three of fie fumbles, the dozen incomplete passes and seven penalties ranging from clipping to interference.
The faults do not add up to a discouraging report when compared with items such as a 19-9 bulge in first downs, defensive play which cost Washington runners 48 backward yards and that matter of the score: 17-7.
Not bad for an underdog.
Nebraska asserted itself impressively in the opening quarter, and used a fine blend of passing and running to out-down Washington by 6-0.
Four of the Huskers first downs at that point had come on passes by Patrick.
The giant Pennsylvanian completed his second attempt with Morrison tucking away the ball for a nine-yard gain. That was the finest play of a 35-yard drive following the opening kick-off.
Nebraska was thwarted shortly after Morrison's catch when Davis rammed the middle and fumbled. Steve Thompson recovered for Washington on the Huskie 44.
Later in the first quarter, Patrick pitched to Tom Penney for 13 and a first down on the foe 49. Nebraska advanced only two yards before a 15-yard penalty for illegal use of hands botched the threat.
That forced a punt, Nebraska's first under the new rule restricting coverage by interior linemen. Stephenson kicked 26 yards with no return as N.U. Tackle Bob Taucher downed the ball on Washington's 21.
Stephenson's second punt came late in the first period. It traveled 33 yards. When Frank Smith fumbled following a five-yard return, Tackle Glenn Patterson, a 6-foot-2 sophomore from Worland, Wyo., claimed the ball for Nebraska on the Washington 32.
Gregory made two yards but a bobbled hand-off took that away. On third down, Patrick sailed the ball to Morrison for a 10-yard gain as the quarter ended.
Nebraska banged its way, into the second period, Orduna slipping over right tackle for seven yards and Davis following with a gain of three.
Then Gregory took his turn and, getting fine help from Brichacek, drove through right tackle to the seven. Davis's block helped Orduna dig to the one.
On the next play Penney cleared the way for Davis; who slipped through the right side for the touchdown. With Bomberger adding the extra point, Devaney's sixth football team was in business with a seven-point lead.
The next two touchdowns were shared by friend and foe — and came within less than a minute of each other.
Buoyed by a 31-yard pass, Patrick to Morrison, Nebraska swept 43 yards to score. Bob Berg bumped Morrison out on the Washington five. Gregory got one yard, then three. needing only a yard, the 6-foot-7 Patrick lunged across. Again Bomberger converted.
That touchdown could have been a crusher against some teams, but not Washington this
Jim Cope raced 31 yards to his 36 on the kick-off return. On first down, a pass-interference call against N.U. rookie Jim Hawkins hurried Washington to its 49.
Three plays later, Sparlin went back to pass. With good coverage, the receiving patterns began to break down. rushers were getting closer to Sparlin. Suddenly, the veteran detected an opening and raced for it.
Dodging and swerving, Sparlin cut a jagged path up field. He received blocking help, but needed little as he went 48 yards for the touchdown.
Martin's placekick pulled Washington up to 7-14.
An interception of a Sparlin pass by Harry Meagher gave Nebraska one last shot before the half ended.
The Huskers, with Patrick steering, went from the Washington 35 to the three. Patrick's end zone pass to Penney was slightly off the mark, but on the next down Nebraska beat the clock on Bomberger's 20-yard field goal.
|Yards per carry||3.2||3.4|
Nebraska is 5-4 all-time against Washington.
|Kansas State||Oct. 7|
|Iowa State||Nov. 4|
|Oklahoma State||Nov. 11|
Nebraska has played 9 games on Sept. 16. See them all »
©2019 BH Media Group