NORMAN, Okla. — The Cornhuskers failed to shatter Oklahoma’s winning streak, which rose to 30 Sunday.
But they did accomplish more than any other Sooner foe since Bud Wilkinson gave the club its winning tonic.
In losing 49-35, Coach Bill Glassford’s Nebraskans scored more points than any rival has made against a Wilkinson-coached team.
The previous high was by the Texas Aggies in a 34-28 loss earlier this year.
So the five thousand Nebraskans who were present in the record Big Seven attendance of 54 thousand had nothing to be ashamed of.
In fact, they had visions of dreams coming true when Bob Reynolds scored 21 points in the first half to deadlock the nation’s No. 1 team at that point.
However, the visions of a conference co-championship and possible Sugar Bowl bid quickly faded.
The Sooners poured over 21 points in the first 10 minutes of the second half for a 42-21 lead.
But the Huskers came back for two more touchdowns to gain whatever “moral victory” you can squeeze out of losing by fewer than 19 points offered in the betting parlors.
Nebraska’s good offense accounted for 329 yards gain, 169 on rushing and the other 160 on 14 completions in 24 passes.
But it was the same old story on defense — the Huskers just couldn’t stop the other side’s attack.
The Sooners rolled to a mighty 384 yards on the ground and 138 more on five good passes in six attempts.
Despite suffering their second loss of the year, the Huskers were at their rugged best — blocking as they hadn’t done all year.
It was a splendid team and individual effort all along the way, on both the offensive and defensive units.
Reynolds wound up with three touchdowns and five extra-point kicks, for 23 points.
That boosted his total to 157 points in his sophomore season of nine games.
It’s almost a sure bet he comes out as the nation’s leading scorer — and his total is thought to be a modern mark for major colleges.
Reynolds made believers out of all who had considered him lightly. He ran through the mighty Sooners for touchdowns of 20, 13 and 16 yards in the opening half.
And those three sparkling rushes into the end zone came in order in the scoring table, after the Sooners had built themselves a 14-0 lead.
As he moved the Husker’s ahead, 21-14, Reynolds was at his slippery best.
He shocked the foes with his quick starts, feinted them out of position, ran around them and bounced off tacklers to keep rolling.
He was helped along, of course, by splendid blocking.
Big Charley Toogood ended his college career with some key blocks, particularly on two of the Reynolds scoring runs.
Reynolds zoomed his scoring total, but lowered his average in rushing yardage.
He wound up with a net of 89 yards on 25 carries. But he carried the ball only a few times in the second half.
After the Sooners got a three-touchdown lead, the Huskers depended largely on passing, with Fran Nagle throwing from a deep formation instead of from the T.
Billy Vessels rivaled Reynolds in the show of sophomore brilliance. He matched the Husker’s three touchdowns, and was far ahead in total gain with 208 yards.
The game was only five minutes old when Oklahoma scored first. The Sooners marched 76 yards from the opening kick-off. Quarterback Claude Arnold going the last 16 yards.
Big Jim Weatherall kicked the first of his seven straight extra points, and the Sooners were on their way.
It looked like a rout when they came right back to score again before 10 minutes had been played.
This time a 65-yard march ended with Leon (Mule Train) Heath taking a pass from Arnold near the 15-yard line and zooming the rest of the way.
The first opening for the Huskers came a few minutes after when Vessels fumbled and Carl Brasee recovered on the Sooner 20-yard line.
It was just one of many fine defensive plays by the sophomore from Benson High.
On the next play, Reynolds was bolted through a quick opening in the line, and set sail for the endzone.
Toogood shook him loose. And he side-stepped all would-be tacklers with his tricky change of pace.
He also booted the point, and the Husker loyalists came to life. It was 14-7 now, and hope was reborn.
Early in the second quarter the Sooners tried to run a fourth-down play for yardage instead of punting, and Bill Mace checked Heath to gain the ball on downs near midfield.
But this scoring opportunity wasn’t cashed in — the Huskers, in turn, losing the ball on downs on the 13-yard line.
In a little bit the Huskers were back knocking on the door again, after Nick Adduci scampered 29 yards to the 21-yard line. Nagle broke him loose after faking to Reynolds.
Bill Mueller contributed an eight-yard run. Then Reynolds ran his favorite left-end play for 13 yards and a touchdown.
His kick tied it, 14-14.
Another Sooner fumble was quickly converted into Nebraska’s third touchdown.
Dick Heatly let the ball get away from him on a pitch-out, and Dick Goeglin recovered only 16 yards from the goal line. There was only 3:20 left to play in the half.
But that was time enough — too much, in fact.
It was time for Nebraska to send Reynolds zig-zagging through the startled Sooners for 16 yards and his third score — and a 21-14 Husker lead.
But it also left enough time for Oklahoma to score again before the intermission.
An Arnold-Heath pass play ate up 85 yards. Then Vessels took a delayed lateral from Arnold and ran the last eight yards for the touchdown which made it 21-21.
The Husket backers were hopeful — but still not optimistic — when the second half opened.
Their spirits were doused quickly.
The Sooners marched to a touchdown by covering 75 yards in eight plays.
Reynolds fumbled a hand-off right after that, and Tom Catlin fell on the ball just nine yards from the Husker goal.
Vessels weaved to a touchdown, and Weatherall’s kick made it 35-21.
As if that was not enough, Vessels ran 70 yards for another touchdown to make it 42-21.
The rest of the afternoon was strictly anti-climax.
The Huskers moved 70 yards to a third period score, Nagle sneaking the last yard after a roughing penalty on the Sooners set up a first down on the one-yard line.
Then each side added seven points in the last period. The winners did it first, Vessels passing to End John Reddell for 23 yards.
Nagle’s passing carried down the field for the Huskers, Gerry Ferguson catching the touchdown flip from the six-yard line for the final points.
So Coach Glassford’s second season ended with Nebraska in second place in the Big Seven, and with a season record of six wins, two losses and a tie — the best Husker mark since 1940.
Nebraska is 38-45 all-time against Oklahoma.
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