Happiness is a winning field goal with 21 seconds remaining! Paul Rogers, left, is the object of the Huskers' affection as Bill Hornbacher, right, joins in the handfuls of hysteria. THE WORLD-HERALD
LINCOLN — Dame fortune kissed Nebraska full on the mouth Saturday and sent Wyoming home a 13-10 loser.
The good lady shared honors with sophomore Paul Rogers, who kicked a 51-yard field goal with 21 seconds to play, and with senior Ernie Sigler, whose sharp quarterbacking lifted Nebraska out of a dismal offensive lethargy in the third quarter.
Add a citation for End Jim McFarland, a pre-med junior from North Platte, who teamed with Sigler in the fourth quarter for a touchdown in his first varsity game.
Nebraska spotted the very determined Cowboys from Laramie a 10-point advantage in the first quarter and never was on top until the boot by 19-year-old Rogers fell over the crossbar and turned a hush into hysteria.
Rogers earlier had delivered three points on a 26-yard kick, also with the brisk wind, and in the same period had missed from the 27.
The Rock Rapids, Ia., native had come to Nebraska with a good reputation for kicking. In the spring game, he was true on field goals of 37 and 49 yards.
Achieved before a sun-baked crowd of 65,018, the victory was Nebraska's ninth in a row in a season opener. Wyoming hadn't lost its initial test since the Bob Devaney-coached team of 1958 bowed to Kansas State, 17-14.
The 51-yard clincher that favored Devaney was believed to be a Nebraska-record distance. "I don't know what the old record was," said Sports Publicist Don Bryant, "but as far as I'm concerned, this one shattered it."
It also must have proved shattering for a Wyoming team that out-yarded Nebraska, 258-206, while being set back 112 yards in penalties.
Much of the Cornhuskers' early trouble was directly related to a terrorizing Wyoming defense headed by tackles Larry Nels and Rich Trautwein, Middle Guard Steve Adamson and Linebacker Jim House, who was the only native son on either starting platoon.
To appreciate the work done by Sigler and his fellow backfield subs, scan the record prior to their appearance.
Midway in the third period, game totals showed Nebraska backs being dumped for a loss on nine occasions and held for no gain three other times. Nebraska had lost one fumble and completed only three of 13 passes.
Cowboys Act Fast
Meanwhile, Wyoming had jumped ahead on rookie Bob Jacob's 35-yard field goal and a brilliant 54-yard touchdown pass with sophomore Quarterback Ed Synakowski tagging Split End Gene Huey.
Huey, alone in the left side of the N.U. secondary, fielded the ball on about the 35 and made a blurring streak to the end zone.
The count was 10-0 with 6:13 still remaining in the first quarter.
Nebraska's first-string offense offered its keynote for more than 30 minutes of sluggish play when Fullback Dick Davis fumbled to Cowboy Larry Nels on the unit's second down with the ball.
Davis was the only starting back who was around long enough to redeem himself. The workhorse carried 21 times usually into the heart of the enemy defense, and finished with a game-high net of 93 yards.
After Nebraska failed to bag a first down on two series in the third quarter, Jim Hawkins intercepted a pass by Skip Jacobson on the Wyoming 47 to give the home club yet another opportunity.
Nebraska's first-string line came onto the field. But there was a new backfield of Sigler, Mike Green, Mick Ziegler and Danny Schneiss.
Sigler is known as the Patient Texan. The senior from Dallas had accumulated a scant 37 minutes of playing time the past two seasons.
Schneiss, a sophomore from West Bend, Wis., and Green, a junior from Omaha, knocked out 12 yards in four trips. Sigler then fired to Halfback Larry Frost, who had just entered the game, for 17 yards. After reaching the 11, Nebraska pounded with futility on the Wyoming middle and had to give up the ball on the 12.
Husker Spirit Picks Up
A new spirit had developed in that time, however. The Huskers suddenly were showing a zest for battle. Fans were roaring their approval.
Davis teamed with Sigler, Frost and Green when Nebraska started a drive from its 29 early in the fourth quarter. Smooth , deceptive and decisive in his movement, Sigler escaped a trap on first down and legged it for a 23-yard gain.
Then he passed to Frost for 18. Davis and Green moved the ball another 13 to the Wyoming 17-yard line. Tackle Ed Hansen led Davis to the 12. An offside shoved Nebraska back to the 17 on the next play.
Still calm, Sigler arched the ball perfectly to McFarland in the end zone. McFarland made the catch despite a flagrant shove by Safety Dennis Delvin.
The placement by Rogers pulled Nebraska into a 10-10 tie with 10:46 remaining.
Blackshirts Resist Pokes
After Rogers kicked off through the end zone, Wyoming battled from its 20 to the Nebraska 37. On third down with four to make, End Sherwin Jarmon bulldogged Jacobson for a four-yard loss.
That was the last the Cowboys saw of Husker territory.
Later, sophomore Bob Jacobs got off a wobbly punt that angled out of bounds at the Wyoming 36. Jacobs has all the earmarks of a great kicker—he averaged 43 yards on nine punts. However, this one into the wind was sorely erratic.
Two minutes and six seconds to go. Sigler worked his troops with a fine aplomb. There was help from Wyoming when Linebacker house tripped Davis on a pass play and drew an interference call.
Get a little, give a little. A five-yard burst to the Wyoming 10 by Green was nullified by illegal use of hands. Nebraska tried again from the 25.
Linebacker Brent Engelright smeared Sigler on the 34. Two passes by Sigler were incomplete.
Rogers to Rescue
But no choke. On fourth down and 29 to make, Sigler held the ball or the 41, and Rogers kicked his long-to-be-loved field goal.
At the signal of "good" Sigler and Rogers embraced each other and rolled jubilantly in the grass.
Wyoming must be remembered for a defense that refused to yield any points to Nebraska on the ground. And for the fast, powerful running of Dave Hampton and Joe Williams, good first-game quarterbacking by the young Synakowski, Jacob's titanic punts.
Nebraskans will need no prodding to remember the flight of Roger's kick and the inspiration of the Patient Texan and the way the old lady smiled so sweetly.