Lincoln Journal Star from Lincoln, Nebraska on September 3, 1978 · 29
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Lincoln Journal Star from Lincoln, Nebraska · 29

Lincoln, Nebraska
Issue Date:
Sunday, September 3, 1978
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1 SECTION D ituto Journal anb &tar September3, 1978 Lincoln, Neb. foims -Gornh I - , u u;""i b f j 'in' t" I ' I T l"f""'', r' "p"'""1'"! r '""T " ' i'TT 1 V '""'"" '""' r ' pr 1 111 "' T f";1' -) Sports 5 ' I I ; i , I ' i "i i I I t ;i By Virgil Parker Sports Editor .-BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Alabama changed the script In the second half to .keep the Crimson Tide's return matchup with the Nebraska Cornhuskers from becoming a national television rerun here Saturday night. V Coach Bear Bryant's club responded to the cries of "roll, Tide, roll," by a record Legion Field crowd of 77,023 to break open a tight 7-3 contest and roll to a convincing 203 victory. .... Last year's game in Lincoln, also on national TV, started exactly the same way. To quote the Nebraska press guide's recap of the '77 clash "the Husk-its scored first on a Billy Todd field goal, but the Tide drove the length of the field to grab the lead, 7-3." The same thing happened this time. Coach Tom Osborne's Cornhuskers kicked off and held Alabama on its first series. Dejected Cornhuskers vow to bounce back NebraskaAlaboma First down 11 17 Rushes-yards 31110 65-364 Passing yords 64 54 Passes 10-23-2 5-13-0 Return yards 0 32 Punts 140.9 7-41.4 Fumbles-lost J-2 3-1 Penalties-yards 4-52 4-59 Time ol possession 25:44 34:14 Third down conversions 3-14 11-19 By Randy York Staff Sports Writer BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Now Tom Sorley knows what Jeff Rutledge felt like last year. Rutledge, Alabama's All-American quarterback candidate, fell so responsible for a 31-24 loss to Nebraska, he needed a full year to live down that five interception nightmare. Sorley. Nebraska's quarterback and offensive captain, perhaps took Saturday night's 20-3 loss to the top-ranked Crimson Tide even more personally than Rutledge had in 1977. "I was bad," Sorley said. "It wasn't there. It was not like me. I guess you could say Rutledge had his bad day against us last year and I had mine against them this year. I hope it's out of my system. I have to put it behind me." Sorley felt worse for letting his defensive teammates down. "They played their hearts out," he said. "If we had controlled the ball better, our defense could have shut Alabama down like they did us. "We've just got to give our defense some rest. Our whole script was three plays and out, three plays and out . . . you can't do that and expect to beat anybody, let alone Alabama." The disappointment of Nebraska's inept offense was offset only by liberal praise for Alabama's aggresive defense. It pursued Sorley like bounty hunters pursue criminals. The Crimson Tide tracked him down, then blew him over, often before he even had a chance to set up and look at the scenery. "They were in my face alot," Sorley said. "I had two passes blocked, but that's something the quarterback should be able to do. He should be able to throw with people in his face. That's part of being a quarterback." Sorley made two critical mistakes. His first was throwing an interception to Alabama's Don McNeal with 4:35 left in the third quarter, and Nebraska still trailing only 7-3. "I had plenty of time to throw on that one," Sorley said. "Tim Smith was open, but I aimed the ball instead of throwing it. That really hurt us." Alabama scored three minutes later and cushioned its lead to 13-3. Sorley's other vital mistake was more embarrassing than costly. With 12:30 left in the fourth quarter, he optioned right Payton, Bears end contract dispute .(TIK'AC.O (ITI) - Walter Payton. the National Football League's leading rusher in 1977, has agreed to a series of one-year contracts with the Chicago Bears, it was announced Saturday .by Bears' General Manager Jim Finks and Payton's attorney Bud Holmes. According to Finks, the agreement was reached with Holmes, in Jackson, Miss., by telephone, and that Payton w ould sign the agreements. "Holmes has talked to Payton about them," a Bears spokesman said. "I'm happy he's signed," Finks said. "Now let's get down to playing football." Payton. who last year rushed for 1,852 yards, the second highest single season total in National Football league history, previously had been dissatisfied with Ihe Bears' offer of a three-year contract for more than $1.2 million which would have called for an option year. The new agreement calls simply far three separate contracts with no option clause. ; it was believed the agreements called for a first year salary approaching $450,000, with the three-year package Nebraska had its first chance from good field position at the Husker 42. Rick Berns and I.M. Hipp combined for one , first down into Alabama territory and a Tom Sorley pass to Berns earned another. When the drive bogged down, Todd set a 48-yard field goal try between the uprights for a 3-0 lead with 8:14 remaining in the first quarter. " The Huskers, however, were ineffective on offense P-e rest of the way. Nebraska crossed widfield just two more times the rest of the game. The Huskers gained the Alabama 44 in the first half and managed to sneak just a yard into Tide territory on one occasion after intermission. "Alabama played well defensively up front and had good linebacking," Osborne observed. "They had excellent pursuit and their secondary did well, too. They were tougher than last year. Alabama was better than we were offensively. I and became so confused, he pitched the ball into the hands of Alabama defensive right end E.J. Junior. "That was a special play," Sorley said.' "It was an iso option put in for Alabama. Kenny Brown was the trailer on the play, but the defensive end just followed him around and cut across between us. I know he didn't know what the play was, but that didn't matter. "I turned around to pitch and never expected anybody but Kenny to be there. I pitched before I looked. Just like an idiot stick. That was sort of indicative of the kind of night I was having." Nebraska head coach Tom Osborne acknowledged his team's inefficiency, but preferred to credit Alabama more than malign his own team. "They were much, much better defensively than we were hoping they would be," Osborne said. "They had excellent pursuit, were strong up front, had outstanding linebackers and a strong secondary. "We just couldn't blow off the line and move anybody out. We had way too many second and eights, second and nines, and second and tens.That allowed Alabama to just come in and tee off on us." Osborne said the most discouraging part of the offensive performance was "We thought we could come in here and score some points and we didn't do it. Alabama played as well as I thought they could, but we didn't get much done offensively." Offensive line coach Clete Fischer said the Husker problems started up front. "Alabama stunted a lot more against us this year." he said. "They stunted against us like they did against Auburn. They have an excellent defense with great pursuit. Frankly, they were better than I thought they would be. "Alabama's defense was every bit like Oklahoma's very aggressive and outstanding tacklers," Fischer said. "We're not a slow football team and they had people all over the ball all the time." Despite the Tide's lightning quick defense, Fischer said "When it's fourth and a fool and you can't make your first down, you've got some problems. We obviously have a long way to go. "The really disappointing thing is we don't know now what we can do because we sure didn't do much tonight. I'm not going to give up on this line, though. I think they'll come back, play hard and be a good line before it's over." As deflating as the loss was, nothing is over for the Huskers in terms of their No. 1 objective to win the Big Eight championship and go to the Orange Bowl. "We didn't play like a Nebraska offensive team should play," admitted running back Richard Berns, who netted only 42 worth about $1.5 million. Payton previously had said he would play out his option this season for a salary of about $(56,000 a year in preference to accepting the Bears offer. . His attorney previously recommended he sign the Bears' initial offer,, which called for about $375,000 this year, but Payton rejected the proposal. During training camp Payton said he was unperturbed about playing the season at the smaller figure, but held out the chance that he would sign before the first game. "My door is always open," he said. During negotiations, Payton said that he wanted to be paid the same amount as O..I. Simpson, a former star with the Buffalo Bills and now with the San Francisco 4ers. who is receiving more than $700,000 a year. . Vayton has missed the last two of the Bears' four exhibition games with a pnr-tial shoulder dislocation suffered in the second game against the St. Louis Cardinals on a pass reception on the only play in which he participated. He carried the ball only four times in the first exhibition game. think our defense played well, however. We thought our defense had improved as much as Alabama had from last year." Osborne admitted his offense "didn't move the ball very well We weren't knocking them back off the line. I thought we could come in here and score some points, but we didn't." The game went according to last year's script in the first half, however. On its second possession, Alabama marched to the Nebraska 18 before its first series drive stalled. From there, Roger Chapman's 35-yard field goal try was wide. With 10 minutes left in the second quarter, after Nebraska had failed to move the ball on its next three possessions and the Tide had done no better in two tries, the script of last year's game picked up. "The Tide drove the length of the field to grab the lead, 7-3." That's what the press guide said of the 1977 game. And did they ever do it here Saturday night! yards on 12 carries. "We let ourselves down, our coaches down and everyone else down. : "But we'll bounce back, I guarantee. one game is going to keep us down, there's no use even competing in the Big 1,'inht WJa 1nora in hnitnna haplr Wa will bounce back. Berns, ABC-TV's offensive player of the game in 1st years win over Alabama, saw a vast improvement in the Crimson Tide defense. "This year," he said, "they made things happen. They came at us. Last year, they wailed around to see what was develop ing. They picked up a lot of our automat- inc Wet iii-f Hirln't thaw, ntf ThnrA 113. I1C JUOl U1U11 I ICCJ lllCill VII. may have been a lot of difference looks, but they were nothing we hadn't seen or shouldn't have been ble to handle." Like Sorley, Berns felt worse for letting down the defense. "Those guys did their darndest to get us the ball," he said. "It was just terrible that we had to keep them on the field so much of the time." Osborne said Nebraska's fumbled snap from center on it's own 3-yard line with 3:41 remaining in the game "was a very unfortunate experience and never should have happened." Jeff Quinn had just entered the game at quarterback. He never even touched the ball. "Kelly Saalfeld said the ball was wet and it never left the ground," Osborne said. "I could see it from the sidelines. Jeff never even got his hands on it." The damage hurt Nebraska's pride more than anything. Rutledge scored three plays later with 2:17 remaining to turn a respectable score into a 20-3 victory which allowed the Tide to better it's role as a 12-point favorite. There was some consolation in the loss when ABC announced after the game that Nebraska defensive end and co-captain George Andrews had been named the defensive player of the game. "It's a nice award, but it's tainted by losing," Andrews said. As much praise as Nebraska's defense generated, Andrews refused to take the credit. "We were on the field a lot, true," he said. "But it's up to the defense to hold off the offense and we didn't get our job done like we wanted to either. There are going to be games like this where there isn't much scoring and we're just going to have to reach down and come through like everybody else. "From what I saw tonight," Andrews said, "I'm not going to get emotionally down. I'd rather lose the first game than the last. Alabama's going to be good down the line, maybe even national champion. We've got some work lo do, but I Ihink we're going lo be good down the line, too. Just watch. I think you'll see it come Irue." j.S. Open leaders NF.W YORK (ITI) - The Big Four look it on the chin Saturday at the C.S. open bul they all survived. Top seed Bjorn Borg had the least trouble. The Wimbledon champion was matched shot for shot for awhile by a Swiss teen-ager in the evening but put down the threat to win 6-2, 6-4. . Jimmy Connors, Guillermo Vilas and Vitas Gerulailis were run dizzy and all felt happy to escape embarrassingly early elimination. ' Connors spent his 26th birthday fighting off huge Pat DuPre, who finished the match with an Injured right ankle. Connors was set back by DuPre's powerful serve and deep groundstrokes but finally won 7-5, 4-fi. 6-3. Rorg's difficulties against Heinz Cun-thardt were seen by a night crowd of K.fi9ti. The largest afternoon crowd in open history. 16.762. and a national television audience watched Connors struggle for 2 hours. 15 minutes against the 4xth-ranked player in the Grand Prix standings. The women's seeds don't seem to be having the same problems as the men. Top-seeded Martina Navralilova had it very easy Saturday night with a 6-1, 6-2 You can't make the field any longer. Husker tackle Tom Ohrt downed a Tim Smith punt at the Alabama one-foot line. Officially, it was 99 yards away, yet 16 plays later, Alabama had set a school-scoring drive record and had taken a 7-3 lead. , Nebraska's defense played superbly on a hot, humid night (82 degrees and 63 percent humidity at game time) except for allowing the one long drive. The Huskers let 'Bama off the hook on a pair of third-and-long situations to give the Tide life - and confidence. Alabama quarterback Jeff Rutledge, who was named the game's outstanding offensive player, tried a pass from his end zone on first down and 'Bama made just one yard to the two on its second play. But, Billy Jackson broke Husker hearts on third and eight with a 14-yard run to get the Tide out of danger. Then it happened again. Two plays netted just three yards before Jackson pow t )T, f-Rutledge J ' ;f- J (ieorge Andrews (9fi), Nebraska defensive right end, made short business for the Alabama offense much of the evening and was named Defensive Player of the Game in the nationally-televised college season opener. Here, Tide quarterback Jeff Rutledge (11) seeks running room before Andrews can close in. W Sports victory over Maria Pinlerova. Connors lived dangerously, charging the nel whenever possible and the gamble paid off in key winning volleys. Con-nois broke Ihe Belgium-horn DuPre, who is two weeks shy of his 24th birthday, in the eighth game of the third set when DuPre committed his first double-fault. Connors then held service to win. Vilas needed two hours to dispose of former champion Stun Smith 6-4. 3-6, 6-3 in another thriller while Gerulailis came within two points of defeat in his match againsl Rhodesian Andrew Pattison. Gerulailis held on to post a shaky 64. 3-6, 7-5 victory and join Connors and Vilas in the fourth round. Connors spoke briefly on television after the match, then raced from the stadium to his wailing limousine. Connors has virtually ignored newsmen all week and is the only seeded player to refuse interviews after a mutch. Connors may lack courtesy but his performance in the face of defeat was superb. Connors jumped on DuPre's second serve and attacked the net to go ahead 30-0 in Ihe pivotal eighth game of the third set. DuPre then committed his only ' double-fault and was broken at love w hen ered to a 10 yard gain and Alabama was out to its 29. From then on, the home club never needed more than two plays to record a first down as it zipped all the way to the Nebraska 11. A pair of 12-yard runs by Tony Nathan and a 24-yard pass from Rutledge to split end Bruce Bolton set the stage for Alabama's first touchdown with 3:06 remaining in the half. The final 11 yards did take three plays. After two running plays gained the four, the Husker defenders dug in for another line smash. But Rutledge crossed up the Huskers by lobbing a 4-yard pass to Major Ogilvie in the corner of the end zone. Chapman's boot made it 7-3. That's when the script changed. Instead of bouncing back as it did a year ago, the Nebraska offense sputtered the rest of the way. Nothing dramatizes that more than a look at Nebraska's offensive output over Qv , j N Andrews f M Sundav Football Oilers vs. Falcons, noon, 3 CS; Rams vs. Eagles, noon, 6 10; Raiders vs. Broncos, 3 p.m., 3 C5; Tom Osborne show, 10:30 p.m., 10. Tennis U.S. Open, 3 p.m., i 10; 11 p.m., i. Golf U.S. Amateur, 4 p.m., 7 C4. stung but he hit a forehand long. Connors' gambling resulted in 2s winners compared lo is for DuPre. bul the second-seeded left hander also had 63 un-. forced errors compared lo ,i!f by DuPre Connors had no aces and only one service winner. "I feel very good, even losing," DuPre said while soaking his injured right ankle in a bucket of ice-waler in the trainer's room. "I've been doing well against these top guys and something's going to happen." Smith. Ihe 1971 Open champion who has been plagued by injuries for several years, broke Vilas in the sixth and eighth games of the second set and seemed primed to produce Ihe biggest upset so far this week. Vilas, who practiced late Friday afternoon following a rugged three-setter against young Bill Scanlon. steadied himself in the third set and exchanged services through the first five games. Vilas then broke Smith at 30 in the sixth game to go ahead 4 2 and held his serve to win. Gerulailis was expected to be one of the lop performers on the hard, fast surface used this year. He practiced for weeks on his private backyard court with the previous five years under Osborne. In 61 previous games with Osborne at the helm, the Huskers have been blanked just once (27-0 by Oklahoma in 1973). In all of the other 60, Nebraska has managed at least one touchdown. The second half continued as a defensive standoff until the first of two critical Nebraska turnovers occurred - each of which resulted in an Alabama touchdown. Sorley tried a long pass from, his own seven yard line with just under five minutes left in the third quarter. Don McNeal picked it off at the Nebraska 3D. Nine plays later, Nathan covered the last two yards to run the score to 13 3, despite Chapman's missed PAT. The scoring might well have ended there, except for another Husker miscue in the closing moments of the game. Aided by a 37-yard pass interference HUSKERS: Continued, page 4D STAFF PHOTO Monday Tennis U.S. Open, noon, 6 10; 11 p.m., 4. Horse racing All-American Futurity, 7p.m., C4; 10:30 p.m., 3. Football Colts vs. Cowboys, 8 p.m., 7C4. still win the .same surface and seemed read to finally challenge the bit; three Borg. Connors and Vilas m a major championship Two more men's seeds were knocked out. Bob l.utz defeated 13th-seeded Jose-Luis Here of Argentina. :t. 6-2. to advance to the fourth round and Butch Walls stopped Mth-seeded Wojtek Fibak 64,7-5. In other afternoon matches involving men's seeds, No. 3 Brian Gottfried beat Knk van Dillen, 6-1, 6-0, in a third-round match, No. 5 Kddie Dibbs outlasted lluiw garian Balazs Taroczy. 7-fi, 4-ti. 6-3. to gam the third round; No. N Raul Ramirez of Mexico, upsel in the first round last year, moved into the fourth round with a 6-2. fi-:i victory over John Lloyd of Britain; No 12 Harold Solomon defeated Gene Mayer 64. 6-2 lo reach the thud round. In the final iiiht match, Kiili-M-eded John McKnroe defeated Peter Fleming. 64,6-1. Vilas, who beat Smith in straight sets in the first round at Wimbledon this year, said Smith was gambling a lot on the court Saturday. J

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