Dick Davis is an airborne Husker as he goes for a four-yard touchdown, Nebraska's second, in the second quarter. Mark Withrow is that leaning Cyclone to Davis' left and Steve Powers is the Iowa Stater behind Husker Guy Ingles, No. 88. Neither can keep Davis from his six points. LAWRENCE ROBINSON/THE WORLD-HERALD
AMES, Iowa — Three expertly executed touchdown thrusts in the first half Saturday propelled Nebraska to a 24-13 Big Eight football triumph over outmanned but eternally optimistic Iowa State.
A record crowd of 29 thousand saw the Cornhuskers even their conference record at 2-2 and push their season mark to 5-2, guaranteeing continuation of Coach Bob Devaney’s most important N.U. record: Never a losing team.
Co-Captain Tom Penney, senior end from Augusta, Kans., scored the decisive touchdown and broke a significant school record. Catching six passes, all from Quarterback Ernie Sigler, he netted 84 yards.
That hiked his three-season yardage total to 933, wiping out the career mark of 881 set by Freeman White, the towering All-American. Penney needs two more receptions to break Denny Richnafsky’s career record of 67.
Nebraska needed its efficient first-half production to offset the Cyclones’ persistent hammering, and even then had to repulse a late-game threat engineered by magnificent John Warder.
Stopper by Heller
Quarterback Warder, who ran or passed 50 times this drab, chilly day, directed a 54-yard touchdown sortie that pulled Iowa State to within 13-21 with a 3:46 to play.
Coach John Majors called for a two-point conversion, but Husker Rookie Tom Heller broke up Warder’s end zone pass to big Sam Campbell.
The possibility of a shocking reversal remained when Steve Powers got off a short, angled kick-off which Ray Snell recovered on the Nebraska 46.
Warder sneaked to the 42, then lost a yard on a fumbled hand-off. Mike Wynn wrestled him for an eight-yard loss on third down. The uprising died on fourth down as Jerry Murtaugh wrecked an attempted pass play.
Reacting to that stimulation, the Huskers pounded from the Cyclone 49 to a fourth down on the 15. A 33-yard field goal by Paul Rogers was nullified by illegal procedure. The rookie from Rock Rapids, Ia., backed up some more and kicked a 38-yarder to sock away the victory once and for all.
Late in the quarter, Rogers had missed on a field goal attempt from the 37 into a light crosswind.
Kicks Add Up
His total effort, including three conversion placements, gave his family something to cheer. The Iowan in Husker togs now is 16x17 on conversions and 5x10 on field goals in his first varsity year.
The Nebraska offense never has operated more smoothly than it did during the first half.
Starting from the N.U. 25 after the opening kick-off, Sigler steered the club 75 yards in nine plays. Sophomore Danny Schneiss, who opened at fullback, boomed for 22 yards in four carries. Sigler passed only once, hitting Mick Ziegler for a 34-yard gain.
Joe Orduna twice picked up first-down yardage. He also bagged the touchdown, a two-yard prance that took him over the site of a fine block by Tackle Ed Hansen, a fellow Omahan.
Defensive Tackle Bob Liggett, a severe pain to the Cyclones throughout the game, set up the next touchdown by recovering Willie Harris’s fumble on the Iowa State 22.
Top gain was a 10-yard pass, Sigler to Ziegler, to the nine. A Cyclone offside on next down made it easier. Davis broke through his left tackle, then cut right on a very business-like rush to the end zone.
This proved to be Davis’s best game since the Wyoming opener.
The hard-working senior paced all runners with a net of 87 yards. He also caught one pass, returned a kick-off 25 yards and blocked with his usual zeal.
Here Comes Allen
Nebraska was bouncing along on its 14-0 lead when the Cyclones blew into the game with the most brilliant run of the afternoon.
They had the ball on the Nebraska, 35, third and one, with 1:35 left in the second quarter. The Cornhuskers may have been yawning. At any rate, Jeff (Rat) Allen suddenly came pedaling around his left end.
The former sprinter at Wendell Phillips High School in Chicago got that nickname because he scampers like a rat, and Iowa State spokesman explained. Allen scampered along the sideline, put on a jet burst when Randy Reeves dived for him at the 16, scored without further challenge.
Vern Skripsky’s kick sobered Nebraska’s advantage to 14-7 with 1:28 left in the half.
These Cornhuskers have one highly exemplary conditioned reflex: They promptly fight back when the opposition scores.
The blooper kick-off was downed on the N.U. 29 by End Paul Topliff. That left 71 yards to travel. Sigler and company made it in seven plays.
Texas Ernie passed six times for six completions. The only muff came when End Chuck Wilkinson knocked the ball out of the quarterback’s hands for a four-yard loss.
Sigler Passes Click
Sigler tagged Penney four times for a total of 59 yards. He had one special delivery for Jim McFarland and Davis.
Only 17 seconds remained after the fumble recovery on the right Unruffled, Sigler then arched the ball to Penney, who made the end-zone catch under heavy duress from Tony Washington and Powers.
That was the ball game.
Most of the second half was old-fashioned pounding that is typical of this rivalry.
Midway through the fourth quarter, however, Iowa State woke up the crowd with the most unorthodox of its many offensive formations.
With a sequence opening at the Iowa State 45, Warder lined up over the ball — well to the right of his teammates. To put the play in motion, he whirled about and shoveled the ball to Allen, who went around left end for 10.
The Cyclones proceeded to the Nebraska 25, the jumped to the nine on an interference call. It was a splendid day for penalties, which accounted for 171 yards of pacing and considerable strong language from both sidelines.
From the nine, Warder picked up eight yards around left end. Harris scored on a plunge over left tackle. Then Heller spoiled the bid for a two-point pass.
Nebraska administered the three-point reprimand by Rogers to improve the appearance of the final score.