LINCOLN — The largest crowd in Nebraska home football history, a sun-bathed 65,361, Saturday day saw sophomore Joe Orduna speed 25 yards in the third period for a Centennial Game conquest of Minnesota, 7-0.
It was the Cornhuskers' first shut-out over Minnesota since 1939. The triumph also was the twentieth in a row at home and lifted Coach Bob Devaney's N.U. record against Big Ten opposition to 6-0.
It was a duel between dock-walloping defenses and frequently inept offenses. In the final 6 1/2 minutes, Nebraska pushed to the Gopher six and to the eight, but fumbled away each opportunity.
Typical of a Devaney team in trouble, Nebraska was at its finest after being caught in its worst predicament of the mauling exhibition. This point came when a Dave Baldridge punt landed on the Husker goal line, bounced back and was blown dead on the six.
With rookie Frank Patrick settling down at quarterback, and the offensive line regrouping for a grand effort, Nebraska plunged and passed 94 yards to score.
The defense again performed in superlative fashion. It was led by Middle Guard Wayne Meylan, Tackle Jim McCord, Linebackers Barry Alvarez and Adrian Fiala. and by a human hawk on pass defense, rookie Jim Hawkins.
The Black Shirts smeared Minnesota for losses totaling 66 yards. Adding that to the play-smashing at Washington U., their two-game total is 114. Minnesota finished with a rushing net of three yards.
In spite of four lost fumbles, Nebraska had total-offense production of 366 yards, including a ground net of 231. Fullback Dick Davis, who also caught three passes, was the pacesetter on the ground with 109 yards for 13 carries.
Ben Gregory added 50 yards rushing, Orduna 44 and Patrick 21.
Patrick still isn't a polished quarterback, but no one has expected him to be in his varsity baptism. But he continues to give glimpses of potential that stir excitement.
Against the heavy rush of the Gophers, spearheaded by the hulking Bob Stein and Ron Kamzelski, Patrick completed 11 of 20 passes for 135 yards.
Three completions helped keep the 94-yard rebound alive. How those vital yards were accumulated:
—Kamzelski limited Davis to one yard. Gregory shot through right tackle for five. On third and four, with Dana Stephenson back for an apparent punt, Gregory bulled out to the 19.
—Patrick passed to End Denny Richnafsky for 11 yards, then made two on a keeper up the middle. At this point, enter lady luck.
—Richnafsky fumbled Patrick's pass. Minnesota recovered but was ruled offside, so Nebraska tried again from its 37. This time Patrick hit Richnafsky for a first down on the N.U. 46.
—After an incomplete toss, Patrick hurled to Davis for a gain of 18. Orduna went through the left side for four. Davis added seven with sparkling footwork. First down on the Gopher 25.
—Orduna shot through his left side, spun out of the arms of Safety Gordon Condo and raced to the end zone. Bill Bomberger added a point by placement.
A more dynamic advance occurred in the fourth period after Nebraska sophomore Al Larson returned a punt to his 45.
In five plays, the Huskers swept to the Minnesota seven-yard line. The blazers were a 12-yard pass from Patrick to Davis, a 14-yard charge by Davis and a 17-yard assault through the Gopher left side by Gregory. Two plays and one yard later, Kamzelski recovered a fumbled hand-off on the eight.
Kicking and kick coverage were important features of this contest.
Baldridge averaged 40 yards on 10 Minnesota punts, Stephenson 31 on seven for Nebraska. Brilliant coverage by Orduna. Denny Morrison and Gregory helped make it impossible for Minnesota to gain a single yard on punt returns.
Placements were something else. Minnesota's Stein missed on field-goal attempts from the Nebraska 27 and 22. Husker Bomberger failed from the Gopher 31, 18 and 20.
Bomberger's try from the 31 in the first quarter resulted in an oddity. The feeble boot fell dead no more than an inch or two in front of the goal line.
Although the Husker defense was teased by the prospect of a safety, Quarterback Ray Stephens managed to worm his way out to the seven in three lunges.
Nebraska got the ball at the Gopher 39 following Baldrige's punt, but couldn't get anywhere. Stephenson's high punt was downed on the enemy four by Richnafsky, but N.U. was penalized back to the Minnesota 40 for illegal procedure.
Again Stephenson punted. This time a tremendous diving effort by Orduna downed the ball on the Minnesota one-yard line. Minnesota made four, then punted.
The first quarter was a series of lost opportunities for Nebraska, which initiated drives from the Minnesota 28, 39, and 35 without collecting a point.
Davis got his first chance to lug the ball midway through the second quarter. The 13-yard gain was an invitation to feed him the ball more often. Nebraska lost possession on that sequence when Noel Jenke recovered a Gregory fumble on the Nebraska 47.
The next time Nebraska put its hands on the ball, however, Davis uncorked the longest run of the game. Taking a pitchout from Patrick, the junior from Omaha North sprinted wide around the Husker right end, trampled at least one defender and advanced 47 yards before bouncing out of bounds in a horrendous collision with Tom Sakal at the Minnesota 31.
Nebraska got as deep as the 11 on that bid, which ended in one of the field goal fizzles after Patrick had missed connections with Richnafsky on the goal line and with 248-pound Bob Taucher in the end zone on a tackle-eligible play.
Devaney's sixth team is bubbling with promise. The coach has been using a multitude of first-year men, who, collectively, have made a major contribution in early play.
Frank Avolio, defensive end from Aliquippa, Pa., and Ken Geddes, quick-moving linebacker out of Boys Town, were among the newcomers who attracted attention.
If they also continue to attract attendance, Memorial Stadium will again appear to be too small. Saturday's crowd marked the sixth consecutive game in which the home-gate record has been broken.
|Yards per carry||0.1||4.5|
Nebraska is 25-33 all-time against Minnesota.
|Kansas State||Oct. 7|
|Iowa State||Nov. 4|
|Oklahoma State||Nov. 11|
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