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From the archives: Husker spring game has gone through changes since tradition started in 1950

From the archives: Husker spring game has gone through changes since tradition started in 1950

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1950 spring game

The front page of The World-Herald from April 9, 1950, featuring the Huskers' first official spring game.

This article was originally published in 2015.

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On April 8, 1950, the Nebraska football team held its spring game. And though there had been similar events in the past — like a 1922 end-of-spring intrasquad scrimmage between the Reds and Blues — the 1950 event started a yearly tradition that has evolved into the spring game we're familiar with today.

But it didn't exactly look like what we're used to nowadays.

Among other things, the game pitted the varsity squad against an alumni team, and was played in front of about 5,000 people.

The game featured a few surprises and noteworthy moments. The varsity team blocked an extra point from then-track coach Ed Weir to avoid the alumni upset, while the Huskers gained just six yards in seven pass attempts. Ravenna native Jack Pesek launched a booming, 70-yard punt for the alumni.

The game ended with second-year coach Bill Glassford announcing that the Huskers "still have a long way to go." Nebraska went on to a 6-2-1 mark in 1950 and finished No. 17 in the AP poll.

Here's the game story from the first Husker spring game by The World-Herald Lincoln Bureau's Gregg McBride:

Tough Vets Battle UN to 13-13 Draw

Vacanti Passes Baffle Husker Eleven; Clark Scores Both Varsity TD's

The Cornhusker Varsity and Alumni tied, 13-13, in their Saturday exhibition game which closed the Nebraska spring football session.

A crowd of around five thousand, which had anticipated a Varsity romp, saw the Alumni battle the Scarlet to a standstill. The veterans were tougher than an old boot. Although outyarded and outdowned they certainly deserved no worse than the tie.

The, Alumni group, sparked by Sammy Vacanti's brilliant passing and the sparkling running, of the Fischer brothers — Cletus and Kenneth — surprised by scoring the first touchdown.

Varsity Bid Denied

The veterans roared back to get another after the Varsity had moved into a 7-7 tie.

During the closing moments, the old-timers, fortified by Ted Doyle and Vic Schleich, a pair of tackle stalwarts, stymied a Varsity offensive deep in Alumni territory.

This last minute stand protected the stalemate.

About all the Varsity had to offer offensively was Ron Clark, Ravenna speed back, and an occasional spurt by Bobby Reynolds, Grand Island freshman.

Mueller Muffs Chance

Clark got both Scarlet touchdowns. He scampered 64 yards for the first; ran 10 to the other.

The Varsity muffed its chance to break the deadlock when Bill Mueller fumbled the snapback on the conversion attempt following the second touchdown.

The attempt for the point after the first Varsity score also miscued. But a holding penalty gave the Reds another chance and Fran Nagle made that one.

Track Coach Ed Weir, All-America tackle of the middle '20s, scored the Alumni extra point. He donned a kicking shoe and split the center to help the veterans move into the early 7-0 advantage.

But Ed's kick after the second touchdown was blocked.

7 Passes, 6 Yards

Varsity attempts at aerial play suffered rudely at the hands of the aggressive Alumni line.

Tackles Doyle, who does back to the D. X. Bible era, and Schleich, of the Rose Bowl team, received yeoman help from Bobby Costello, Freddie Lorenz and a host of other Alumni linemen.

They had the Scarlet overhead stymied early, the Varsity passing attack netting only six yards in seven attempts. Coach Glassford's lads did a little better on the ground. But, except for Clark's two scoring jaunts, they were far from impressive.

13 Vacanti Strikes

While the Scarlet was having trouble negotiating the air lanes, the Alumni rode merrily along on Vacanti's passing arm.

Slinging Sam announced before the game he would connect on nine pitches. Given a fine protecting shield, Vacanti tossed 13 strikes, including the touchdown pitches to the Fischer boys.

The Alumni completely dominated the first half.

The game was midway in the second quarter before the Varsity registered its first first down — a 15-yard plunge by Gerry Ferguson.

Doyle sets up score

The Scarlet couldn't pull even with the Alumni on first downs until the middle of the third period.

Before getting the first score in the opening quarter the Alumni drove into Varsity territory three times.

Rich Novak's recovery of an Alumni fumble stymied the first threat on the Varsity 31. Another bid faded on the 39.

Doyle's recovery of an Alumni fumble on the Varsity 24 finally signaled the touchdown.

Cletus Catches TD Flip

The Fischer brothers squirmed through to a first down on three plays. Cletus picked up three more and Vacanti hit Jack Carroll on the Varsity two.

The Scarlet line pushed the Alumni back to the five. This was only temporary relief as Sammy promptly pitched to Cletus Fischer for the score. Weir's placement made it 7-0.

Jerry Jacupke's recovery of a fumble eight yards out stymied a Varsity threat as the half ended. It was the only serious gesture by the Scarlet during the opening quarters.

The Alumni rode the seven-point margin until the closing seconds of the third period.

Pesek Punts 70 Yards

Schleich's recovery of a fumble halted one Varsity third period bid. Jack Pesek's booming punt, which carried 70 yards into the end zone, apparently had silenced the other.

Jack's mighty kick, however, was but the lull before the storm.

Clark and Mueller got 16 yards on three plays from the 20 to set the stage for Clark's 64-yard touchdown sprint.

End Frank Simon's sharp blocking sprung Ron on the scoring jaunt down the west sidelines. He outran the pack the last 50.

Varsity Roars Back

Nagle's conversion knotted the count, 7-7.

The Alumni, dipping into the extra tank for new gas, came back with a 64-yard drive climaxed by Vacanti's touchdown pass to Ken Fischer. Sam hit Ken from the 17.

Vacanti's passing, Frank Collopy's plunging and Sammy's sneaks kept the march alive through four consecutive first downs.

Behind, 7-13, the Varsity took the kick-off and never yielded the ball until the score was tied.

A-1 Blocking for Clark

Reynolds's 25-yard runback of the kick carried to the Varsity 42.

Clark's 18-yard end swing, a quarterback sneak by Nagle and several nice gains by Reynolds hurried the Varsity to the Alumni 10.

Clark scored from this spot. He was given beautiful blocking and went across standing up.

Three minutes remained as the Varsity drew new life with Don Bloom's mid-air recovery of Ken Fischer's fumble. Bloom ran to the Alumni 30 before he was hauled down.

'Long Way to Go'

Varsity drives failed and, on the last play, Kenny Fischer grabbed Ron Clark's desperation pass in the end zone.

The St. Edward senior got to the Alumni eight with the interception as the game ended.

Coach Glassford had high praise for the Alumni performance.

Regarding the Varsity he said, "We still have a long way to go. What we have to offer next fall will depend on progress made during the pre-season camp at Curtis."

The alumni team even had the help of several varsity players — but the vets would have no part of that.

'We'll Handle This' — Alumni

Vets Jerk Husker Sub; Played for Keeps


No, thanks, the Alumni gridders told Coach Bill Glassford Saturday as they battled his Nebraska stalwarts to a 13-13 tie.

Mr. Glassford had lent the vets 10 players in case they ran out of gas. But Alumni Coach Ray Prochaska made only token use of the group.

Gerald Dunn got in for two plays.

And when the Alumni discovered him in the lineup they ushered him out, telling Mr. Prochaska, "We can handle this job alone."

To the surprise of even the Alumni, there, were no injuries.

But the boys were playing the game for keeps. Several outbursts of mild rhubarbs proved that.


Omaha World-Herald: Local Sports

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