HONOLULU — In retrospect, it was entirely appropriate that Nebraska should end its football game against Hawaii Saturday night with 275-pound Mike Fultz in the defensive secondary doing his best imitation of a twinkle-toed safety.
It was a final touch of comedy that had the Cornhuskers roaring with laughter on the sidelines, but Athletic Director Bob Devaney suggested in strong terms to Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin that the Rainbow Warriors might interpret the move as rubbing their noses in the 68-3 laughter.
Fultz and Kiffin were apologetic afterward.
"I wasn't making fun of anybody. We were just having a little fun," Fultz said. He added with a grin: "I was in a prevent defense."
For a coach who had just witnessed his most one-sided victory in a four-year term, Tom Osborne was strangely subdued.
He was embarrassed about the score. He prefers more of a challenge.
"It is the most different feeling I've ever had as a head coach. It was good for the players to relax during a game like this, but I like a little bit of a challenge. About the only challenge was guessing when they'd blitz. I feel sorry for the other team.
"It's not quite like going against Lacewell, I'll tell you that," he said.
He referred to Oklahoma Defensive Coordinator Larry Lacewell, who is 4-0 against Osborne in such mental chess games.
With the change of scenery the Huskers shook a two-game losing habit and concluded the regular season with an 8-3-1 record. Hawaii finished at 3-8.
While wrapping up, the Huskers fattened their offensive averages with a handful of school records and season highs. Most notable were:
— An all-time high of 655 yards in total offense. The old record was 628 in 1954 against Hawaii, who else?
— The most rushing yards in one game by sophomore I-back Rich Berns. His 211 erased the 204 by Frank Solich against Air Force in 1965.
— The most pass receiving yards by split end Chuck Malito, who snagged a mere four for 166 yards. Guy Ingles set the old standard of 163 against Oklahoma State in 1969.
— The most touchdown passes in a season by Vince Ferragamo, who added two to break his tie with Dave Humm and wind up with 20.
Nebraska, remember, was a team which had developed a glaring deficiency in its running game. The longest touchdown run from scrimmage in the first 11 games was a paltry 14 yards.
Ferragamo outdid that one when he ran a keeper 16 yards to the second touchdown. That was a tip-off that Hawaii didn't have an overpowering defense.
As the long — two hours, 52 minutes — evening progressed, Berns topped the Ferragamo jaunt with sprints of 34 and 56 yards.
Then the Rainbows made the sorry mistake of covering split receivers Malito and Bobby Thomas man-to-man. It was just too tempting an invitation.
Ferragamo called an audible on the second play of the game when he saw Thomas with just one man to beat and sent him up the middle for a 43-yard touchdown catch.
Later, Ferragamo directed Malito along the same route for a 65-yard touchdown that was the longest of the season, and Tommy Sorley, the third Husker quarterback, pitched another to Malito for 50 yards.
Malito's two touchdowns came after he had lost fumbles following a 46-yard reception from Randy Garcia and a five-yard advance.
Osborne tried hard to be complimentary to the Rainbows after the mismatch, but it was second only to the 77-7 route of Army in 1972 as a non-contest in the last 54 years. The 1922 team opened with a 66-0 whipping of South Dakota.
"I would say Hawaii has a lot of work to do in its program," Osborne said. "They had a better football team the last time we were here (45-3 NU win in 1971). They definitely were not a real strong team, but they hustled and hit, and they didn't lay down."
Rainbow Coach Larry Price wasn't surprised by the onslaught. "They were just what we thought they'd be. They gave us their best shot and offered no surprises."
But David showed up without mercy for the Rainbows.
Even the officials forgot which was the home team. Hawaii was penalized back to its three-yard line on the first play and drew clipping penalties on three of the next four kickoffs.
After starting its first-quarter series from the 5, 10, 8 and 10-yard lines, Nebraska Asst. Athletic Director Jim Ross wryly noted in the press box: "They haven't had what you'd call ideal field position."
As the score soared to 27-0 at the quarter, 33-0 at the half and 54-3 after three periods, the locals resorted to cheering for first downs (six cheers) and Nebraska punts (one more).
With the Husker defense as domineering as the offense was flashy, the Rainbows reset midfield as the ultimate goal.
They reached their 49 in the second quarter before Reg Gast knocked quarterback Blane Gaison back 10 yards and finally made it across in the third when linebacker Gary Lewis intercepted a Sorley pass.
A 20-yard scramble by Gaison followed, and Hawaii fans put up a mighty roar when Curtis Goodman knocked through a 43-yard field goal.
It was a delirious moment for the long-suffering Hawaiians as the band pumped out the Hawaiian War Chant. After all, it was only 47-3 a at the time.
Hawaii crossed midfield once more, via the offense, by putting together a 36-yard drive — it's longest — but Ray Phillips snuffed that one with a fumble recovery.
Meanwhile, the Husker offense was cranking out touchdowns as regularly as the surf pounds Waikiki Beach.
The first touchdown took two plays and 41 seconds, the second six plays and two minutes, the third six plays and 2:28, the fourth four plays and 1:02.
That was all for the first team for a while, and the first quarter hadn't ended.
The regulars came back to start the second half, and they picked up the pace like they were anxious to get back to the beach.
Three plays covered 80 yards with 1:07. Next time, it took only two plays to cover 63 yards. Then the subs came back and improved another notch, taking just one play — 51 yards from Sorley to Malito — to make it 54-3.
"The game allowed us to look at a lot of players. We haven't had a chance to do that for a while," Osborne said. "Our second units played two-thirds to three-fourths of the game."
Every Husker traveler except I-back Monte Anthony, who sat out with an injured wrist, and wingback Dave Shamblin, who had a sore hip, played.
The absence of Anthony and a second-quarter knee injury to Byron Stewart were factors in the record night for sophomore Berns, who scored four of the 10 touchdowns.
Berns was forced to play more than any other Husker since only three I-backs made the trip. In the fourth quarter, Osborne spelled Berns with fullback Dodie Donnell and wingback Curtis Craig because "we didn't want Berns to get hurt."
When informed that Berns was near the Solich record, Osborne sent the swift Texan back out for three plays. He surpassed Solic with a 14-yard pitch play with seven minutes remaining, then retired after taking a loss on the next play.
|Yards per carry||3.4||6.5|
Nebraska is 5-1 all-time against Hawaii.
|Miami (FL)||Oct. 2|
|Kansas State||Oct. 16|
|Oklahoma State||Nov. 6|
|Iowa State||Nov. 13|
|Texas Tech||Dec. 30|
Nebraska has played 5 games on Dec. 4. See them all »
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