Memorial Stadium, Lincoln — Versatile Terry Isaacson, an Iowa native who plans to become a jet pilot, Saturday afternoon led the Air Force Academy to an upset over previously unbeaten Nebraska, 17 to 13.
Fellow Cadets gave him the game ball. Inasmuch as he had been handling it with great determination and finesses much of the afternoon, that was entirely appropriate.
The 178-pound senior stabbed the Huskers with a 38-yard aerial touchdown in the final minutes to snatch the decision from the heavily favored hosts.
Isaacson ran for 69 yards and passed for 160, giving him whopping total-offense figures of 229. He also punted five times for a 37-yard average.
After trailing at the half, 7 to 0, Nebraska had pulled even on a 76-yard sprint by Rudy Johnson. After again falling behind on a field goal, Nebraska had surged ahead on a touchdown that followed Kent McCloughan’s flashing run of 44 yards.
The Huskers had to preserve their scant margin of 13 to 10 for 15 minutes 42 seconds—and that proved too large an order.
After a series of ball exchanges on punts, a fumble and an interception that had the capacity crowd of 38 thousand in a nail-biting mood, Air Force took possession with 4:10 remaining.
Isaacson drove the team 80 yards in six plays without a hitch.
He tossed to end Fritz Greenlee for 10 yards, then to Ken Jaggers on a screen maneuver that got back only to the line of scrimmage because of a fine stop by Bruce Smith.
Then he hit halfback John Lorber, a senior from Orange City, Ia., for 15 and Greenlee again for 11. A lateral to Greenlee picked up six yards.
All this time the Huskers were giving the wiry little quarterback a hard rush. Isaacson’s a cool one, however, and he has the talent to go with his poise.
On second down on the Nebraska 38, Greenlee, the first Negro ever to play for the Academy, streaked past Dave Theisen of Nebraska.
He had a 5-yard jump on Theisen when Isaacson’s expert pass dropped into his hands. The six-foot-three wingman loped into the end zone without losing any momentum.
Bart Holaday, who earlier had kicked one conversion and a life-saving 27-yard field goal, made it 17 to 13 while Cadet subs leaped for joy.
If the defeat serves only to arouse the Huskers to a comeback fury, it will have been particularly inopportune.
The next Husker foe is Kansas State, Big Eight cellar team which should fall simply in the normal course of events.
For a few minutes in the opening quarter Saturday, Nebraska showed some of the blow-’em-over power that hasn’t been exhibited since the Kansas U. conquest of a year ago.
With Johnson and Willie Ross taking advantage of tornadic blocking, quarterback Denny Claridge directed a blitz that carried 64 yards in seven plays and set the ball on the enemy 20.
Then the best-laid plans of coach Bob Devaney went awry. There was an illegal motion penalty, a no-gain stop by Lorber and a Claridge pass that breezed through Ross’ fingers.
Dave Sicks, the academy’s highly rated linebacker, blasted through to pin Claridge for a 7-yard loss, making it fourth and 21. Claridge punted.
Next time Nebraska got its hands on the ball, Claridge hustled the club 33 yards to the Air Force 24 before the gremlins took charge.
Bruce Smith recovered a fumble on the 24. Claridge’s pass to Hohn was good to the 17 but an illegal receiver was spotted downfield and NU was shoved back to the 38.
A wobbly pass from Claridge to end Freeman White was intercepted by Parke Hinman on the eight.
That set up a 92-yard Air Force scoring drive that was climaxed early in the second quarter—and that served notice Nebraska’s big weight advantage is not the answer to every gridiron problem.
Isaacson got off the hook on first down, taking advantage of a two-man block by fullback Larry Tollstam, another heroic figure, to squirt all the way out to the 20.
Following some heavy-duty carries by Tollstam, Isaacson passed to halfback Dick Czarnota for 41 yards and a first down on the Cornhusker 12.
A fourth-and-one punch by Tollstam was about half a yard short of a touchdown but brought the reward of another four opportunities.
Air Force needed only one try. Czarnota leaped through his right side for the touchdown with 12:15 remaining in the first half.
On the third play after the kickoff, Ross’ fumble was captured by Falcon Gary Fausti on the NU 28.
Isaacson maneuvered his forces to the eight, where a field goal was called.
Delay of the game cost Air Force five yards and Holaday’s kick from the 20 was wide to the right.
Although Nebraska made no serious threat, the visitors again drove to within field goal range before the half ended.
The try came on fourth down after White had dumped Lorber on the 11 for a yard loss. Coach Ben Martin disagreed with foot-stomping vehemence when the officials said the kick was wide.
A good tackle by end Larry Tomlinson and a timely pass deflection by Hohn forced a punt by the Falcons shortly after the kickoff opening the second half.
The strike came immediately.
The Huskers were overloaded to the right and Air Force shifted to meet that power. But Johnson bolted through the left side, found plenty of running room and angled toward the sideline.
The Falcons couldn’t recover quickly enough to nullify Johnson’s great speed. A block by Tony Jeter, sophomore end who has developed rapidly, eliminated the only halfway serious threat to the senior from Aransas Pass, Tex.
But Air Force slammed back again, eating up precious time and gnawing at the Huskers’ confidence.
Isaacson and comrades used nine downs to lug the ball from their 21 to the NU eight. They were forced to punt early in the drive but got new life when guard Bob Brown was found guilty of roughing the kicker.
Brown loomed in front of Isaacson just after Terry got the punt away. The big guy couldn’t alter course. However, he threw his arms around Isaacson, lifted him off the ground and toted him several yards in an effort to keep him from falling.
The officials call still was “roughing”.
Isaacson almost went all the way from the NU 45 but was pulled down by Hohn after gaining 36 yards. Despite rumbling defensive play led by Brown, Jeter, Tomlinson and Dick Callahan, the Falcons were able to notch their field goal from 17 yards out.
Nebraska’s second score came late in the third period. The year of the thrust was McCloughan’s 44-yard run after taking a well-time lateral from Claridge at left end.
The Broken Bow junior started cutting diagonally across field inside the Air Force 30. It was a beautiful run, ended finally by Hinman on the four.
Claridge got a couple of yards before sending Smith through a sizable hole on the right side. Claridge faked Smith into the middle on the conversion try and was caught short trying to keep around right end.
Nebraska never got beyond the enemy 36 after that as the Cornhuskers suffered their first defeat since the Oklahoma game of last November.
|Yards per carry||3.9||7.0|
Nebraska is 1-1 all-time against Air Force.
|South Dakota State||Sept. 21|
|Iowa State||Oct. 5|
|Air Force||Oct. 12|
|Kansas State||Oct. 19|
|Oklahoma State||Nov. 16|
Nebraska has played 19 games on Oct. 12. See them all »
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