LINCOLN — The storm warnings Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne had been sending all week about the potency of Hawaii were called off in the middle of the second quarter Saturday when the Cornhuskers cut loose on a tear that didn’t end until the score reached 56-10.
It was the kind of showing Osborne had been waiting for, with eight different players scoring touchdowns. The N.U. joy was tempered by serious injuries to Tim McCrady, one of the game’s standouts while seeing his first extended duty at wingback, and reserve center Dave Rimington.
Both are scheduled for surgery this week. McCrady separated his shoulder, and freshman Rimington tore cartilage in his knee. There were numerous other minor injuries.
McCrady caught everything that was thrown near him on a day in which the Huskers put their passing game in high gear. Nebraska quarterbacks completed a sterling 16 of 20 passes for 210 yards to go with the 389 yards produced on the ground for a 509 total.
McCrady finished with five catches for 58 yards and added a 24-yard run on a reverse that contributed to a second-half touchdown drive.
The Memorial Stadium crowd of 75,615 got its first good look at the sophomore from Plainview, Neb., when he caught passes for 16 and 17 yards on a 91-yard drive that started the Husker fireworks for the day.
With five minutes gone in the second quarter, the Huskers were still clinging to a 7-0 lead. Nebraska got its second score with 9:40 left in the half. In the next 6:39 the Huskers added four touchdowns, scoring each time they touched the ball.
Nebraska made it look easy with showcase plays like Tom Sorley’s 39-yard touchdown pass to Frank Lockett and Kenny Brown’s 52-yard punt return for a score. But Osborne held his ground afterwards and said he still thinks Hawaii is capable of playing his team a close game.
“I thought Hawaii played pretty well most of the first half,” Osborne said, “Take away a few of our big plays and it could easily have been 7-10, 10-0 or 10-3 at halftime.”
But statistics were another reminder that the first half wasn’t even close. The Huskers had 15 of their 31 first downs in the game and 306 total yards to Hawaii’s five first downs and 97 total yards.
Nebraska has outscored Hawaii 124-13 in their last two meetings, including the 68-3 whipping administered at Honolulu in 1976. This time the score mushroomed on the Rainbows for different reasons, according to Osborne.
“I don’t think it was a case of Hawaii having a bad football team, but our players having their best game to date,” he said.
“We tried to impress on our players this week that we were looking for improved performances,” Osborne said. “I don’t think we had many turnovers out there, maybe one. We had relatively few penalties and I don’t think the defense made many mistakes.”
For the record, Nebraska lost two fumbles in the third quarter that led to Hawaii’s scores and the Huskers were penalized five times for 63 yards.
Any thoughts of another miracle upset — like Hawaii’s 6-0 win in its 1955 visit to Lincoln — started disappearing in the opening moments.
Hawaii lost five yards on its first two carries and quickly punted. Nebraska followed with a precision march of 78 yards on 11 plays that ended with I.M. Hipp’s 10-yard touchdown.
The second-quarter surge by the Huskers included these developments:
— The 91-yard drive on 11 plays that ended with Andra Franklin’s 11-yard run and without the Huskers ever facing a third down en route. McCrady caught his first two passes as a Husker, while most of the remaining yardage was chewed up by reserves Franklin and Tim Wurth. The only imperfection was Billy Todd missing the conversion. That ended a string of 13 straight successes.
— With the score 13-0, Nebraska got a break on a mistake that Hawaii couldn’t afford to make. Todd’s kickoff dropped untouched by a Rainbow, and N.U.’s Dan Lindstrom recovered at the 18. Nebraska’s Dan Pensick was ejected on the play without explanation from the official, and the Huskers started at the Hawaii 33 after a 15-yard penalty. A 28-yard pass from Sorley to Kenny Brown put N.U. at the 5, and three plays later Sorley sneaked for the score from inside the 1.
Brown’s catch was on the same “gingerbread” play that got Nebraska untracked last week against California. Sorley pitched to Hipp, who handed back to Sorley for the throw.
It was the start of a very productive day for the junior wingback from Cincinnati. Brown finished with two catches for 52 yards, returned three punts for 88 yards and two kickoffs for 45 yards.
The dazzler was his 52-yard punt return for the score that hiked the Husker lead to 35-0 before the half. Nebraska’s punt returners have been reprimanded by coaches for not fielding as many punts as they should.
“They want us to get up and gamble a little bit,” Brown said. “The defense can’t hit you until you catch it anyway.”
Brown took the low punt on the run, headed for the sideline and cut back toward the middle of the field when he saw danger looming ahead.
“Usually when I get past that first block, I know I can go all the way. But I saw two defenders and one blocker (along the right sideline). I had a choice to go there and settle for a long gain or to cut back.”
Osborne praised Sorley’s field direction. His passing statistics spoke for themselves. The senior Texan completed nine of 11 for 133 yards and the touchdown to Lockett.
“Some of our big plays in the first half were ones Sorley audibled,” Osborne said. “The experience he is getting is starting to show. He is doing a good job.”
Sorley said the play of the line and his receiver made him look good. “I have a good line in front of me. I don’t think I got touched all day. When a quarterback has that much time, he should complete that many passes.”
Sorley said the receivers “Caught the ball real well today. We’ve got super receivers. They’ve got stick-em fingers.”
With the game decided, the second half was marked by fan frivolity, Hawaii’s only scoring in the game and the first look this season at Nebraska players below the top two units.
At one point in the third quarter, the fans in the corner of the south end zone seats engaged a soft-drink cup war with fans in the corner of the east stadium seats. Those involved missed watching McCrady’s 24-yard reverse.
He is one of the third teamers who played, and he was called to duty early because of an injury to Maurice McCloney, one of last week’s heroes. McCloney hurt his ankle in practice Thursday and didn’t suit up.
Nebraska assistant trainer Jerry Weber said McCrady would have a pin inserted in his shoulder. McCrady was taken for X-rays. The injury was initially diagnosed as a complete separation.
“Rimington’s injury was probably something he did earlier in the fall in Shrine Bowl camp,” Weber said. It is possible that both might return by the end of the season, Weber said.
With the absence of McCrady and McCloney at the end of the game, Nebraska was down to Brown as the only available wingback. Coaches used a two-tight end formation rather than calling on Anthony Steels, who is ticketed for a redshirt season.
Hawaii showed some of the grit it was lacking two years ago by hitting double figures in the third quarter when Nebraska still had many frontliners in the game.
Hawaii, which got in Husker territory only once in the first half (to the 45), scored its lone touchdown on an 11-yard pass from Jeff Duva to Wayne Black. The smallest player on the field, 5-8, 140-pound freshman Peter Kim, added 3 more points with a 49-yard field goal.
Tim Hager and Jeff Quinn, Nebraska reserve quarterbacks, each moved the offense with authority. “Both did a good job,” Osborne said.
Hager directed two touchdown drives: One score came on Rick Berns’ 9-yard run and the other when fullback Jim Kotera made his first varsity carry a 3-yard touchdown. Hager completed five of seven passes for 53 yards and Quinn two of two for 24 yards.
Craig Johnson, a sophomore from Omaha Westside, also got his first varsity score when his 1-yard run ended the point parade with 6:56 remaining.
Nebraska’s 389 yards rushing were divided among 12 ball carriers. The leaders were Hipp and Berns. Hipp got 70 yards on 12 carries. Berns gained 69 yards on 11 carries.
Nebraska, ranked 14th and 12th in national polls, now gets a week off before taking its 2-1 record to Indiana on Sept. 30. Osborne figures his team’s showing Saturday will make the road ahead a little easier.
“It’s important for us to have a game like this at some time in the season,” he said.
|Yards per carry||2.4||5.8|
Nebraska is 5-1 all-time against Hawaii.
|Iowa State||Oct. 7|
|Kansas State||Oct. 14|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 28|
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