LINCOLN — Nebraska shattered Kansas's composure while maintaining its own under the heaviest of pressure Saturday, drove 88 yards for a late touchdown and pulled out a 21-17 Big Eight football victory in an atmosphere of total delirium.
The Israelis and the Arabs would have called a truce to watch this battle, which appeared won and lost half a dozen times.
The Cornhuskers blew a 14-0 lead, failed to hold a 14-14 tie, came from behind with only one minute and 22 seconds to play, then had to knock down a speeding Jayhawk at the Nebraska 18 after time had run out.
A host of scarlet-clad made great plays in the clutch, and that emphatically includes Sioux City's Al Larson, senior linebacker — who led the tackle of Phil Basler on the game's final play.
But it was the sophomore twosome of quarterback Jerry Tagge and halfback Jeff Kinney that stole the hair-raising show on offense.
Kinney scored both Nebraska touchdowns, raising his total to seven for five games and keeping alive his record of having posted at lease one six-pointer in each of his varsity starts.
The youngster from McCook collected 80 yards to lead all rushers and also was the game's top pass pass receiver grabbing nine for 94 yards.
Tagge, who has the guts of a latter-day Al Capone, contributed 260 yards by completing 23 of 36 passes — and without an interception. The completion total is a school record.
Another record, school and Big Eight, was logged by junior Paul Rogers when he opened the scoring with a 55-yard field goal in the first quarter.
The conquest, which may become as controversial as it is important, was Nebraska's first in two conference tests and gave Coach Bob Devaney's club a 3-2 record at the season's halfway point.
It also was the first Nebraska conference victory at home since the 9-0 taming of Oklahoma State in 1967.
Controversy over officials rulings late in the dark and sometimes wet afternoon of muscle-flexing will be kept alive, particularly in the Kansas press, for days.
However, losing Coach Pepper Rodgers declined to attack the officiating, except by an implicating tone, in his first post game session with writers.
The finish that turned Memorial Stadium into one giant heart throb was set up with 46 seconds gone in the fourth quarter when specialist Bill Bell kicked a 24-yard field goal for a 17-14 Kansas lead.
The Jayhawk status was improved a couple of minutes later when Tagge's low pitchout to Larry Frost was recovered by end Gary Davenport on the Nebraska 28. That was Davenport's third capture of the game.
A key stop by linebacker Adrian Fiala forced Kansas to try a fourth-down field goal from the 28. End Sherwin Jarmon gave Nebraska a big shot of spirit juice by blocking Bell's kick.
With 9-and-a-half minutes to go, Jayhawk Mike Reeves recovered Larson's fumbled punt catch on the Nebraska 44. Again, the Huskers bristled. Larson and Ken Geddes, who, combined, took part in 25 tackles, teamed on a vital third-down stop of Rick Rucker, then pitched in with a lot more help to kill a fourth-down plunge by Ron Jessie on the 12.
At that point, the Blackshirts turned the game over to the Husker offense.
These were the major moments on the 88-yard drive that followed:
—Kinney made an excellant catch of a Tagge pass as he ran laterally through the defense. Gain: 15 yards, first down on the N.U. 31.
—Karl Salb, a 275-pounder, and Davenport smacked Tagge on the 31 for a loss of 12. But no panic.
—Fourth and 16 to make, 1:58 to play, Tagge was chased back to his 20 but fought back beyond the 30 before hurling a pass to end Jim McFarland. Although the pass was incomplete, Mark Geraghty interfered. Intemperate protests by Kansas tacked on additional penalty yardage for unsportsmanlike conduct. First and 10 on the K.U. 17.
—Third and three on the 10 with 1:30 to play. After Kinney drove over right tackle for four yards, Kansas' Jim Hatcher took a swing at Guy Ingles. The penalty put the ball on the three.
Fullback Danny Schneiss took out Steve Roach, center Glenn Patterson helped widen the hole. Kinney burst through the line for a touchdown. Rogers added the placement, his 14th conversion without a miss this season.
Nebraska led 21-17 with 1:22 remaining.
Still time for heroics, but K.U. had bad position when Jessie got no farther than the 10 returning Rogers' kickoff.
Quarterback Jim Ettinger's second-down pass to end George McGowan carried 14 yards. A holding call against Nebraska moved K.U. out to the 41 with 52 seconds showing on the clock.
Two plays later, Ettinger was injured and helped off the field after being tackled by Jarmon on the Nebraska 45. Only 32 seconds remained when soph Phil Basler made his varsity quarterback debut for Kansas.
Dave Walline hit Basler for a three-yard loss; a Basler pass was incomplete. Only nine seconds remained when Basler eluded pressing defenders, started rambling up field and threatened to break loose for a touchdown that would have made an improbably contest utterly unbelievable.
Larson, however, led the lifesaving tackle at the 18.
After a great among of leaping and hugging and backslapping, the Huskers headed for the winners' dressing room to the accompaniment of a hoarse but swelling tribute.
Many hundreds of fans remained in the stands to drink in the Cornhusker Marching Band's serenade of triumph on the field.
In the press box, writers looked bleakly at each other. Some wished they had taken up bricklaying as a career.
In the first quarter, Rogers followed his record-length field goal with one of 46 yards to give Nebraska a 6-0 advantage. These were the first fielders of the season by the Rock Rapids, Ia., junior, who had failed on five attempts in earlier games.
Now, however, he has tied Larry Wachholtz's N.U. career record of eight.
Nebraska lost a bit of its self-assurance in the second quarter when a 68-yard match died one yard from the goal line. The key gainer had been a 20-yard aerial, Tagge to Kinney, and a 17-yard end run by Tagge. But at the one, Kinney's fourth-down lunge over a logjam at the middle was short by maddening inches.
Later in the period, Larson made a fair catch of a Bell punt on the Kansas 43, and Nebraska scored in four plays.
The first was a Tagge pass to Ingles, good for 12. Hicks caught Kinney for a loss of three on the following play. Then came a prize-winner.
Kinney blocked out Hicks while Tagge passed to Frost, who sped all the way to the one before Geraghty could bump him out. Blocks by Gale Williams, Joe Buda and Mike Green opened the door for Kinney's touchdown.
Nebraska added two points on a Tagge flip to Kinney , who beat Hatcher in the end zone.
Late in the second quarter, Bell missed on a field-goal attempt from the 15. Kinney fumbled on the next play , Davenport recovering on the Nebraska 18. After a yard was lost on a Larson tackle, Ettinger threw to Mosler, who broke a tackle at the 10 and went in for a touchdown. Bell's conversion cut the margin to 14-7.
With rain falling in the final minutes of the first half, Bell got off a 61-yard punt that Ingles returned to the Nebraska 19. As Ingles took the ball and looked for running room, end Mike Wynn cut down Jayhawk Miles Hauser with the most devastating block of the afternoon.
Nothing came of the offensive sequence, but Wynn's crusher was one for the memory book.
Third-period highlights included Kansas's 62-yard touchdown thrust with Ettinger wedging across from half a yard out, Hatcher's block of a Rogers field goal attempt from the K.U. 12, Randy Reeves' saving stop at the K.U. 29 after Jessie had scooted 44 yards.
Plus a clever move by Kinney. With defenders closing in, he could have caught a pass from Tagge. However, with the probable result being a five-yard loss, the quick-thinking rookie purposely — and unmistakably — batted the ball to the ground.
Notwithstanding the breaks that accrued to both sides, Nebraska outdowned Kansas, 24-16, and had a 40-yard bulge in total offense. For a measurement in guts and poise, check the final score.
|Yards per carry||3.8||2.5|
Nebraska is 91-23 all-time against Kansas.
|Texas A&M||Sept. 27|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 25|
|Iowa State||Nov. 8|
|Kansas State||Nov. 15|
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