January 2, 1941
Stanford Speed Tops Husker Power in 'Greatest Rose Bowl Tilt,'
Vike Francis, Zikmund Tally for Nebraskans
Allen's Injury Blow to Hopes; Indian Plays Confound
By Frederick Ware
Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Cal., Jan. 1 - Speed did it.
Speed blended with deceit as impossible to follow as lightning's flickering, darting traceries.
You looked right at it, but you didn't see. You didn't see although you looked right at it from high above.
Speedy deceit or deceitful speed earned Stanford its eight-point margin.
You know the figures.
Stanford 21, Nebraska 13.
"Greatest Game Ever"
But let's interrupt this narrative to listen to the booming, screaming chorus from 90 thousand laryngitic throats. The chorus has become a hysterical recessional that drowns the brassy blaring of the bands as they march from the twilight-dimmed arena:
"It was the 'greatest Rose bowl game ever."
It was a game of swiftly changing dominance of kaleidoscopic tones and colors, all of them dazzling-bright; a game that emphasized for primitive intervals the might of crushing power; a game that impressed the deadlines of attack from the airÑand the deadliness of a streaking counterattack - attack upon the attacker.
It was a game that strained the wide boundaries that mark the spectacular in football.
Can't Match Speed
But it's triumphant theme note was speed.
Because they were unable to match it, the Cornhuskers lost the reckoning; but while losing it they gained in a strange and unfamiliar land a standing and prestige that will be well remembered.
Not the afternoon's most breath-snatchingly wondrous play was Allen Zikmund's 33-yard catch and run of Hernie Rohrig's pass, Stanford's Pete Kmetovic became the perpetrator of the nigh-unbelievable when he raced back 50 yards with harry Hopp's
punt to score in the third quarter the contest-clinching touchdown.
Loss of Zikmund Hurts
But, Allen Zikmund's feat was perhaps the most significant, and strangely it will be remembered by some 30 thousand Nebraska whoopers with wistfulness, even though it gave the Huskers a five-minute, 13-7 advantage. For Zikmund, the sprinter was injured shortly after the point-making and with the game less than half gone, had to withdraw. Thus was lost to Nebraska the speed that might have won the margin of hurry that Zikmund perhaps could have provided.
With Zikmund gone, the Huskers could not capture Kmetovic and Hugh Gallarneau. Their linemen, thus inadequately supported, could not handle the charges
of Stanford's quicker forwards.
Nebraska's need for speed was not apparent at the game's beginning. The game began like a triumph of power, it seemed to forecast a rout by brawn.
Francis Displays Power
Seven plays after the kickoff the Huskers had seven points.
The Viscount Francis' return of Frankie Albert's boot seemed to foreshadow devastation. He boomed back 28 yards to Stanford's 47.
Harry Hopp lost three yards on a drive at left tackle, but that was the last deficit recorded until the Huskers scored.
The Viscount exploded himself through left guard and 14 yards were stamped under his feet before Fred Meyer grounded him by dividing from behind.
The Viscount repeated and the goal was 13 yards closer. Then Butch Luther streaked around right end to the nine. Stanford's groping defense couldn't stifle the reverse either.
Alfson a Linebacker
From the nine the Viscount rammed three yards. The Butcher added five on another reverse inside tackle and then the Viscount scored standing and then he place-kicked the seventh point and the clock said only four minutes had ticked past.
Stanford received the kickoff. Frankie Albert was forced to punt.
The Nebraskans' defense against the T. which had been so intensively rehearsed on Arizona's desert field, seemed stout and likely to endure, Five men manned the
Scarlet line. Close behind it ranged Francis and Bob Burruss, as usualÑand Guard Warren Alfson, not as usual.
That was the nucleus of Maj. Jones tactics, the right guard in a linebacker's role.
Behind the three backers ranged a brace of defenders. They slid back and forth, according th signal, just as the backers did. And farther to the rear, there was the safety man, the Butcher.
Albert had to punt. Again the Huskers had the ball. But power had lived its fleeting glory-moment. Hopp had to punt right back forthwith. For nearly 10 minutes
the exchange continued, a temporary stalemate between trickery and might.
Then Frankie Albert, with fitting protean technique, became a magician and the football in his hands was like a pack of cards.
The Huskers didn't often see the football until Kmetovic or Gallarneau or Norm Standlee had whisked it expensively into their secondary.
From Nebraska's 47, where the streaking Kmetovic had been spilled by Alfson after a 12-yard return of Hopp's kick, Albert began the working of his sleight-of-hand. The Huskers simply didn't know who had the ball until it was too late to do more than keep first downs from becoming immediate touchdowns.
U. N. Defense Confounded
The Huskers set themselves for an assault on their center, and Kmeltovic raced outside tackle 29 yards to their 18. The Huskers vowed to stop that business and Kmetovic went banging through their center, and when they felled him he was only
nine yards from the goal.
Then Albert took mighty Vic Lindskog's snapback and raced swiftly backward. The Huskers didn't see the forward-blazing Hugh Gallarneau snatch the ball as they passed each other. Neither did very many in the stands. The Huskers came pouring through in pursuit of Albert. Hasty Hughie crossed standing as proudly as the power- specialist Francis had done for Nebraska when the game was new.
Albert doesn't miss conversions by placements. After his kick had tied the score the Huskers' No. 2 team took over, with the injured Forrest Behm relieving the valiant Clarence Herndon and the beginner Vic Schleich spelling Kong Kahler.
Zikmund's Speed Handy
The No. 2 team seemed to have the answer - for a time. It forced Albert to try a field goal from the 16. Ralph Whitehead rushed Frankie and the try soared profitlessly wide.
Then Zikmund took command, and Nebraska took the lead, and speed seemed about to be matched with speed. Zikmund set up his own big moment by plopping on Albert's fumble of Rohrig's 47-yard punt on the Indians' 33. He was downfield almost as fast as the ball. That was the sort of momentum needed to cope with Stanford.
The Huskers lined up. Rohrig faded. Zikmund scampered into the Indians' secondary. Rohrig pitched. Without slackening his velocity the blond boy from Ord made the catch and kept going. Gallarneau chased him futilely. Untouched he scored.
But the ubiquitous guard Chuck Taylor blocked Rohrig's kick for the extra
point. Hermie recovered the interrupted ball, lateralled to Bus Knight but Bus couldn't run across the point whose lack five minutes later seemed tremendously significant.
For five minutes later Albert pitched far and straight down the middle to Gallarneau, who leaped high in stride, snared the ball and continued the yards necessary to make it a 40-yard touchdown play. Albert kicked his second placement, the placement that loomed so important until the third quarter was almost gone.
Zikmund was hurt when Kmetovic with a jarring tackle held to 46 yards his runback of Albert's kickoff after Stanford's second touchdown. Kmetovic thumped him down on Stanford's 39.
Throw Back Indians
Stanford's defenders were too swift for Nebraska's receivers, Stanford's linemen hurried Rohrig and the Husker pass assault was stifled. From the 37 Rohrig made a desperate try for a field goal that bobbled dead on the seven. Thus ended the first half, and thus unimpressively ended Nebraska's threatening.
It was against the Scarlet starters, whose power they no longer feared, that Kmetovic made the play of the day.
The play of the day followed the day's most remarkable defensive interval. This was presented by the Huskers. They held four times inside their two-yard line. Luther, Fred Preston, Francis and Kong Kahler showed the Indians they could put no hope in any power assaults against a close-grouped defense.
Huskers Knocked Looping
They and their mates held, then from the end zone Hopp punted, and in midfield Kmetovic fielded the ball. He seemed trapped as he ran toward the sideline to his left, trapped by a converging Husker barrier. He streaked swiftly to his right, while ahead, mates did a magnificent mop-up job on the scattering of would-be Husker tacklers.
They were knocked looping and rolling as Peter progressed untouched.
Albert made the total 21, and the day's thrills were over. The Huskers flared fitfully and briefly until the end. So did Stanford, whose lineup near the finish was peopled by kids who had played but little during the season.
Indians Grow Fresher
But it was very near the finish before Albert the essential and the bulwarks Lindskog and Taylor and Palmer left the game, Twilight had thickened. Passes were prayerful on both sides.
The boys were tired, both the Huskers who ad been relieved for lengthy intervals and the Stanfords who, though they played almost all the game, seemed no wearier than their foes. They seemed fresher, if anything, and the scoring margin they owned doubtless was a powerful bolster to their spirits and muscles.