YANKEE STADIUM, New York — The postscript to the Nebraska football season will show that Bob Devaney’s first-year coaching contributions included the school’s first bowl triumph.
Devaney’s Cornhusker inheritance included an 0-2 record in post-season competition—a 21-13 loss to Stanford in the 1941 Rose Bowl and a 34-7 thumping by Duke in the 1955 Orange Bowl.
“This will make them remember us as a bunch of fighters,” the coach declared Saturday after his team had broken through the prestige barrier for a 36-34 triumph over Miami in one of the wildest offensive shows in bowl history.
This was the Gotham Bowl, a frantic, fledging promotion that managed only 6,166 paid admissions in the midst of a newspaper strike and on a gray, 20-degree day. The number of spectators in the stands was less than one thousand.
Nevertheless, the victory will glow in the record books as a thriller in which Nebraska survived three Miami leads and two deadlocks to finally stab All-America Quarterback George Mira with his own weapon.
Fittingly, it was Quarterback Denny Claridge who stole a Mira pass to set up Nebraska’s final touchdown and clinching points.
Equally appropriate, it again was Nebraska’s defense which squeezed out Mira’s dying gasp—a pass that the harassed Jack Sims could not hold and that Guard Bob Brown snatched for the Huskers following a 49-yard thrust late in the final quarter.
In regard to the hair-raising finish — and the meager attendance — Nebraska assistant George Kelly spoke briefly and eloquently:
“The people of New York missed a helluva show today. They really blew it.”
No one would belittle Mira and Matador, the hot-weather junior from Key West, Fla.
He smashed school records with 24 completions and an amazing 321 aerial yards on the coldest day of his life. He shot the ball, he lobbed it and he threw it in beautiful arcs.
Mira was voted the game’s most valuable player.
But his circus performance and the 95 yards of bulling by Nick Ryder, a 205-pound New York native, were not sufficient to put down plucky deadlock shortly before halftime.
There was Tackle Lloyd Voss, who crashed into Miami’s John Bennett to force the fumble that Dave Thiesen recovered to set up Nebraska’s first touchdown.
And young Kent McCloughan, who was pressing Sims when the Hurricane halfback failed to field the Mira pass that Brown picked off.
Nebraska was overwhelmed in most of the statistics except the sweet numerical accounting that stands as the final score.
Mainly through Mira’s deadeye shooting, Miami outdowned Nebraska, 34 to 12. Ryder’s heroics even enabled Miami to outrush Nebraska, 181 yards to 150.
Meanwhile, the Huskers were playing tough, gradually putting more pressure on Mira and his receivers, gradually tightening their ground defenses.
MIra amassed more than two-thirds of his passing yardage (220) the first half.
Losing Coach Andy Gustafson paid tribute to Nebraska’s offensive line play, keyed by Guards Dwain Carlson and Brown.
He observed that the Huskers “were hitting our weak spots with the strength of their offensive attack. I kept switching tackles and ends on that side (Miami’s left), but still we didn’t stop them.”
Gustafson admitted he was caught short on Husker kick-return tactics, stating:
“This was one of the new things that Nebraska did.
“In each of the films, they had consistently used a wedge on the kick-off returns and run up the middle. This time they caught us by surprise and went to the outside.”
The Miami coach gave his subdued players a 60-second pep talk.
“Forget the loss,” he advised, “and start thinking about our opener next September with Florida State.”
Both coaches had the majority of their players in tennis shoes to obtain better footing on the frozen turf.
Regarding Mira’s success, Devaney said: “We knew their pass patterns but we just couldn’t stop them.
“The hard, slippery surface made it hard for the defensive backs to cut fast enough to adjust quickly to pass patterns.
“The field favored the receivers, who knew where they were going.”
Assistant Kelly told the Huskers:
“All right, boys. The Orange Bowl next year! The heck with this cold weather.”
That was agreeable to every one within hearing.
|Yards per carry||4.2||3.6|
Nebraska is 6-6 all-time against Miami (FL).
|South Dakota||Sept. 22|
|Iowa State||Oct. 6|
|North Carolina State||Oct. 13|
|Kansas State||Oct. 20|
|Oklahoma State||Nov. 17|
|Miami (FL)||Dec. 15|
Nebraska hasn't played any other games on Dec. 15.
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