Look at jumping Joe Orduna, left, hurdling high over a low Tiger .. and then descending into a test of foes who seem intent on stopping his third-quarter burst. THE WORLD-HERALD
LINCOLN — Nebraska bobbled its way out of serious Big Eight title consideration Saturday and was left behind in the cellar as Missouri, playing near-perfect football snatched a 16-14 triumph before 66,289 fans.
Never before in Bob Devaney’s seven years as head coach did a Nebraska team turn in such a confounding mixture of brilliant and brutally erratic behavior on the field.
The Cornhuskers fumbled six times, Missouri gratefully took possession six times. A botched pass attempt was ruled an interception when a Tiger grabbed the pop-up.
Never was victory out of reach — until a seventh and final turnover bailed out Missouri with a minute and 35 seconds to play.
The game started as a riot of delight for Nebraska partisans, but gradually turned into an unbelievably bad dream.
Dick Davis churned 33 yards with the opening kick-off. Roars of approval. On the first play from scrimmage, Quarterback Ernie Sigler passed to End Tom Penney for 45 yards to the Missouri 17. Screams of jubilation.
Blocks Aid Orduna
Four plays later, Joe Orduna charged through the Husker right side from the three, took advantage of blocks by Davis and Larry Frost to barge into the end zone. Touchdown. And with only 2:03 playing time elapsed.
While a mass of red balloons floated upward and eastward Paul Rogers authoritatively kicked the extra point.
Man, this was going to be some day for Nebraska!
Although they are utterly worthless today, the statistics say Nebraska did some things well. The home club led in total offense, 255 yard to 208; got off two more plays than Missouri; had a slightly better punting average; outdid the visitors in kick-return yardage; didn’t come up with a single penalty.
But all that counts in the standings is the final score — and the fact that Nebraska is 0-2 in the Big Eight.
After Nebraska took a 7-0 lead, each team punted three times before anything of significance occurred. The seventh punt in this exchange was by Missouri. It bounced off a Husker in a tangle of players, and Center Con Rees recovered for Mizzou on the Nebraska 19.
Tigers on Scoreboard
Missouri punched to the four-yard line in four plays. From that inviting spot, rookie Fullback James Harrison, 6-4 and 238, headed into the N.U. right side.
The hulking Texan seemed to float. The hole was huge; Harrison wasn’t even jarred. He rang up six points. Placement Kicker Bill Sangster sent the ball into one of the uprights, so Nebraska clung to a one-point edge as play moved in to the second period.
Next time the Bengals got possession, on a punt – not an N.U. mistake – they pushed and sailed 62 yards for touchdown.
The key gainer was a 27-yard pass, Quarterback Terry McMillan to End Tom Shyrick. The latter had slipped away from the N.U. defenders but couldn’t out-run them. He was caught on the Nebraska 15.
Ron McBride and Harrison made it a first down on the three. Harrison then drove his giant frame thought he Husker left side for a touchdown. This time Sangster put the ball between the posts.
Less than a minute later, Mark Kuhlman grabbed Sigler behind the line, forcing a fumble which Tackle Rocky Wallace claimed for the Columbians on the Nebraska 18.
Davis Goes Over
Three plays netted only one yard. Henry Brown salvaged three points by kicking a 35-yard field goal.
That was the end of Missouri’s scoring, and nearly 37 minutes remained for Nebraska, trailing 7-16, to get back into the game.
In four previous tests, Missouri had not yielded a point in the third quarter. Nebraska spoiled that string by hustling 48 yards to a touchdown on its first possession of the second half.
Sigler resolved an early fourth-down crisis by ramming over Center Joe Buda for a first-and-10 on the 25. Then Orduna, who was a furious driver throughout the sequence, ran to the 15. Davis punched out seven tough yards in two carries. Orduna got six more.
With Nebraska’s line loaded to the right, Davis ran right and scored. The conversion by Rogers lifted Nebraska to within 14-16 of the visitors with a quarter and a half to go.
If Nebraska could check Missouri’s attack and secure decent field position, Rogers might wing the verdict with a field goal.
Penney Snares Pass
Nebraska quickly made Missouri punt, but the ball bounced off Bob Best, who was tied up making a block, and Jon Staggers recovered for Missouri on the Nebraska 46.
The N.U. offense was putting a tremendous load on its own defense. And the defense did all that could be asked of it. Ken Geddes, in on 20 tackles, and Jerry Murtaugh, taking part in 15, almost were superhuman.
Nebraska stock made a brief but spectacular rally early in the fourth period. Running to his right, Orduna surprised with a halfback pass to Penney.
The senior end and co-captain, seeing first action since being injured in the Utah game, caught the perfect spiral while outfighting defender Dennis Poppe. The gain was 45 yards to the Missouri 35.
Three plays later, disaster struck once more. Guard Carl Garber jarred the ball loose from Davis, and Steven Lundholm covered it on the Missouri 16.
Beg pardon if the plot is beginning to seem trite.
Black Shirts Toughen
The Black Shirts made Missouri punt. Sigler tagged End Jim McFarland on a 27-yard pass to the visitor 41. Three plays later, a hard tackle popped the ball out of would-be-passer Sigler’s hand. Roger Boyd caught it for Missouri; Sigler tackled him on the Tiger 44.
Well folks, the Nebraska defense forced Missouri to punt.
Five plays later, Jerry Boyd hit Sigler behind the line. The quarterback fumbled. Roger Boyd recovered for Missouri on the N.U. 35.
You may have heard this song before: Unable to notch a first down against the Black Shirts, Missouri punted.
The ball went out of bounds on the Nebraska 13. One minute and 35 seconds of play. A long pass … A field goal … Nebraska still had a chance.
Frank Patrick, the strongman, replaced Sigler at quarterback. While in the clutches of a tackler, Patrick passed in the flat to Davis, who swept right end to the 25.
Two passes by Patrick were broken up. But the 6-foot-7 junior connected with Penney, who broke a tackle and got up to the Husker 40.
Tiger Streak at 4
Patrick was caught nine yards behind the line, then threw out of bounds to stop the clock with 30 seconds to play. Elmer Benhardt smacked Patrick, causing a fumble. Wallace recovered for Missouri on the Nebraska eight. Missouri froze the ball for one play, then left the field in leaps and bounds.
The Tigers have won four straight games since being nicked by Kentucky in their opener. They are 2-0 in the Big Eight, with Kansas State to play this week.
There apparently is going to be a rousing conference championship race this year, but only a miracle could let Nebraska be part of it. Coach Devaney has no alternative this week but to believe in miracles.