LINCOLN — Top-ranked Nebraska reasserted its ability to play ball-control football while knocking down previously unbeaten Utah State, 42-6, Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
The Cornhuskers registered touchdowns on five of the offense's first nine possessions and decorated that performance with monster man Dave Mason's 53-yard scoring run with an intercepted pass.
As a prelude to opening defense of their Big Eight championship at Missouri this week, the Huskers raised their unbeaten string to 23 games.
It was a bright afternoon with the temperature in the mid-70s, ideal for girl-watching and Tagge-watching.
Jerry Tagge, already established as one of the finest quarterbacks in NU and Big Eight history, passed for 189 yards and two touchdowns. He added a pair of touchdowns on short runs.
The senior field leader directed scoring drives of 74 and 52 yards the first two times Nebraska got its eager hands on the ball.
Also important to NU ambitions, alternate quarterback Van Brownson saw more-than-usual action and hurled his first touchdown pass of the season.
In less than two and one-half seasons, the Tagge-Brownson combine has accounted for 51 touchdowns passing and rushing.
Tagge has passed for 21 and run for nine; Brownson's totals are 12 and nine.
Tagge raised his school career record for passing yardage to 3,568 and broke Bob Churchich's NU career record for touchdown passes when he flipped to fullback Bill Olds for 14 yards (No. 20). He went to Johnny Rodgers for 36 yards and No. 21.
Rodgers caught five passes for 105 yards. The human dart has made 58 receptions for 1,047 yards and a dozen touchdowns since making his varsity debut last season. Nebraska's career reception yardage record is 1,234, held by 1970 senior Guy Ingles, also an Omaha product.
There was no suspense in the Utah State match after defensive standouts Mason, John Adkins and Willie Harper forced the visitors to punt after a 37-yard advance following the opening kickoff.
Master Tagge then guided his unit 74 yards, overcoming a couple of third-down predicaments in the process. It was third-and-four at the NU 45 when he passed to Rodgers for 19 yards. It was third and seven on the Aggie 33 when he threw to Jeff Kinney for 21.
Rodgers appeared to have scored on the next play as he swept the NU left end, but a mate was guilty of illegal procedure and the ball was moved back to the 17.
Kinney got back three yards, then Tagge threw to Olds on a screen play. The screen was of little consequence; Olds used brute power to escape Tom Murphy and Bob Galeazzi at about the 12 and barreled into the end zone.
Soph Rich Sanger converted, his first of six placements for the day. He has converted 19 or 20 attempts for the season.
Still in the opening period, Nebraska stormed 52 yards to make the count 14-0. This was a most unusual touchdown.
With the ball at the Aggie three, Dixon faked into the middle. Fullback Maury Damkroger charged wide to his left to handle the defensive end. Tagge also ran left, with Rodgers trailing for a possible pitchout.
The hole on that side was so vast that Tagge reined up and actually walked across the goal line.
Early in the second period, the Aggies' hustling quarterback, Tony Adams, aimed a pass toward split end Bob Wicks, who is being touted as an All-America candidate.
Mason intercepted and sped down the sideline for his first touchdown.
So domineering was Nebraska in the second quarter, three times it disdained the punt on fourth down, on the Utah State 38 and 24, and on the Nebraska 33.
Only a yard was needed on the latter occasion. Brownson got it on a plunge. Jeff Hughes had gone into the game, ostensibly to punt. Then Utah State called time. On second thought, Nebraska kept the ball.
The brash call did not lead to any points, however, as one of Nebraska's eight penalties (for a total of 91 yards) helped botch the effort. Hughes finally kicked with NU on its own 46.
Nebraska took the second-half kickoff and swept 70 yards with some of the most devastating blocking exhibited this season. The only pass completion was from Tagge to Kinney for 17 yards.
Olds and Dixon did most of the heavy work, but Kinney set up the touchdown with a plunge from the three to the one, and Tagge went over right guard Keith Wortman for the score. A blocking assist was credited to center Doug Dumler.
Utah State attitude: Still aggressive.
In less than two minutes, Adams passed to Wicks for 34 yards and the second touchdown of the season against the No. 1 Blackshirt unit.
Cornerback Jim Anderson had his mitts on the 6-foot-3 receiver but couldn't corral him.
Thus aroused, the Huskers showed an old Devaney trademark — the ability to cancel out opposition points.
Rodgers returned the kickoff from the one to the NU 24, but a clipping penalty moved the ball back to the 11.
Devaney should have posted a tornado warning. With 89 yards to go, Nebraska covered the distance in five plays.
Kinney made eight, then five. Tagge passed to split end Woody Cox for 28. Kinney charged around the Husker left flank for 12. Tagge passed to Rodgers, who caught the ball near the 12 and flashed into the end zone well out of the reach of safety Phil Shelley.
Linebacker Bob Terrio stole a pass by Adams at the Nebraska 31 early in the fourth quarter to put the touchdown machinery in motion for the last time.
Rodgers hauled in a 17-yard pass for the starter. Dixon and Brownson added first downs. With the ball just inside the Aggie 22, Frosty Anderson replaced Hughes at the flanker position.
Brownson sailed a pass to the end zone. Anderson, son of former Michigan State and Hiram Scott College basketball coach Forddy Anderson, leaped for the catch. He landed heavily and skidded, but held on for dear life and his first varsity touchdown.
There was no big standout among the 11 ball carriers who saw duty for Nebraska. The leaders were Dixon, 45 yards; Kinney, 40; Olds, 30. The longest ground gain was 22 yards by Damkroger.
In terms of tackle participation, the top Huskers were middle guard Rich Glover, Terrio and cornerback Joe Blahak.
The most unassisted tackles were made by Utah State's Alan McMurray and Steve Couppee. The visitors also had the leading ground gainer in eye-catching Ed Giles, who netted 70 yards and once raced 34 before Harper could pull him down.
Nebraska got in 19 more plays than its victim while building an advantage of 469 yards to 227 in total offense.
Altogether, penalties notwithstanding, it was an excellent effort by a team whose main disadvantage was being an overwhelming favorite.
|Yards per carry||2.0||4.3|
Nebraska is 8-0 all-time against Utah State.
|Texas A&M||Sept. 25|
|Utah State||Oct. 2|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 23|
|Iowa State||Nov. 6|
|Kansas State||Nov. 13|
Nebraska has played 15 games on Oct. 2. See them all »
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