WEST POINT, N.Y. — Even the pregame hijinks of the Cadets went awry Saturday.
When Nebraska's offensive football explosion ended it was a 77-7 romp and nothing more strenuous for the Cornhuskers than a stroll in the autumn sun along the picturesque banks of the Hudson River.
Nebraska scored the most points since a 100-0 rump past Nebraska Wesleyan in 1917.
No one has ever scored that many points against the U.S. Military Academy. The previous high was a 51-10 victory by Notre Dame in 1970.
It might have been a bad omen for the usually proud Cadets when the fun and games before the kickoff backfired.
Army cheerleaders had built a "Cornhusking machine" and placed it on the field. After two Army Cadets dressed in football gear ran over two scrawny would-be N.U. footballers, the two foes were tossed into the machine. Out came a sack of corn and a bunch of white chickens.
The Cadets put the chickens in a net and raised a sign saying they're just chicken. But one of the chickens escaped and it took four or five cadets to finally run it down.
That was the last thing the Cadets caught all day until they got a consolation touchdown with just 35 seconds remaining.
The 11-touchdown harvest included three by high-spirited Johnny Rodgers, who pranced before 42,239 fans, the eastern press and the regional television cameras.
The Cadets passed in review in a colorful ceremony in the morning. Then it was Nebraska's turn for intricate maneuvers and a parade of 53 players — all who made the trip, except Terry Luck, No. 3 quarterback who apparently is headed for a redshirt season. In addition to the whippet-like Rodgers, seven other Huskers joined in the scoring fun, including linebacker Bill Sloey and cornerback Randy Borg.
If the East Coast fans came as Rodgers skeptics, they went away convinced as the senior from Omaha Tech scored twice on passes and once on a run.
David Humm, who completed his first five tosses, finished with 14 completions in 18 attempts, one for 24 yards to Rodgers.
The left-hander from Las Vegas bettered the percentage record of 10 of 13 (.769) set by Bob Church against Wisconsin in 1966. The soph quarterback hit .777 percent of his passes before turning the job over to Steve Runty in the third period.
While the offense was pulverizing the Cadets, the Blackshirts were taking their toll, too.
The Cadets wound up with a minus 12 yards rushing and had a net of 136 passing, including a 10-yarder for their touchdown against a combination of second and third stringers.
Nebraska introduced a new formation, a variation of the pro set backfield with Rodgers and rambunctious Bill Olds as the two set backs.
Rodgers was called on 10 times as a runner, the most in his career, and he responded with 58 yards. In addition, he caught five passes for 58 yards.
It was Rodgers who capped the first-quarter drive of 64 yards the first time Nebraska got the ball. He broke in between Olds and Jerry List blocks from the three. Rodgers had gotten the big bite of the drive with 17 yards off the new formation.
When Rich Sanger converted for the first of 10 consecutive successful kicks, only 4:28 had elapsed.
Johnny R scored again with 1:05 left when he took a pass from Humm and tippy-toed his way into the end zone just before going out of bounds. It was his first score of the season via the pass and 19th of his career.
Twice Sanger had missed field goal attempts and the large gathering of Cadets in the stands, still held hope as the quarter ended at 14-0.
On the first play of the second quarter, junior quarterback Kingsley Fink completed a 44-yard pass to Bob Hines, who was nailed down by Dave Mason at the Nebraska six. The Cadets chanted for a score. No soap.
After one running play and three unsuccessful passes, Army yielded to the Blackshirts at the three.
Still it wasn't any awesome display by the Huskers and three probably were some Army fans who still had fanciful notions of a West Point comeback.
Those dreams disappeared — along with the sun when the Big Eight champs scored three times in the last 3:48 of the second period. It was a dreary day for Army the rest of the way.
Dave Goeller, the two-touchdown scorer from Pilger, Neb., started the spree. He stepped in from the two to cap a nine-play, 43-yard march.
Bent on self-destruction then, the Cadets gave the ball away at their own five four plays later when the center snap on a punt went over the kicker's head. Steve Manstedt and Jim Branch were there to pin the frustrated Ron Danhof to the ground.
Humm sneaked in from the one on the third play.
Branch, the senior linebacker from Chicago, set up the next score when he blasted Fink who sought to run from his 22. Towering John Dutton curled his 6-foot-7 frame around the fumble at the 18.
Frosty Anderson made a brilliant catch of a Humm pass at the one on the first play. The Scottsbluff junior took the ball away from an Army defender, but couldn't quite made it to the end zone.
But Goeller did make it on on the ensuing run. It was 35-0 at halftime, the largest two-quarter production since the Huskers led Oklahoma State, 41-7, at the half in 1970.
In less than 10 minutes of the second half, the Huskers had four more touchdowns.
Gary Dixon started it, plunging in from the two to end a march of 44 yards. Soph Ritch Bahe of Fremont had put it in motion on a 40-yard kickoff return.
Then Borg, the junior defender from Alliance, Neb., zig-zagged his way 60 yards on a punt to score. His path was cleared by key blocks by Monte Johnson and Branch.
Willie Harper set up the next one when he recovered an Army fumble at the Cadet 20.
Runty was now at quarterback. On the fifth play he spotted Rodgers down the middle for a five-yard touchdown pass. Still 7:26 remained in the third period and Army Coach Tom Cahill must have thought the game was dragging along insufferably long.
The Huskers' fourth score came when Sloey, dogged by bad knees all last year, intercepted a Dick Atha pass and clod-hoppered his way 43 yards for the score.
Ralph Powell, No. 3 fullback, figured in the next two Nebraska scores.
He grabbed a 24-yard screen pass for the big gainer in a 64-yard drive that ended with Runty sneaking over from the two with 12:34 left in the game.
Powell, a junior from Detroit, raced 63 yards before he was hauled from behind by Army linebacker-track sprinter Gary Topping at the Cadet two.
The Husker subs needed four tries before Runty squirmed over with 4:15 to play. Bahe, whose style of running is similar to Rodgers, converted after the final score.
By the time Atha pitched a 10-yard touchdown pass to Barry Armstrong with 35 seconds to play, even the red-shirted following of some 3,500 Nebraskans had compassion for the badly overmatched Cadets.
Nebraska used 11 runners and they all showed a gain. The Huskers didn't have to bother with the nuisance of a punt — something they'd like to duplicate next week against Minnesota and against every other foe.
That's wishful thinking, but the overpowering strength of the Nebraskans on this afternoon may be recalled at the Military Academy for years to come.
|Yards per carry||-0.3||4.6|
Nebraska is 3-2 all-time against Army.
|Texas A&M||Sept. 16|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 28|
|Iowa State||Nov. 11|
|Kansas State||Nov. 18|
|Notre Dame||Jan. 1|
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