This Week in Husker History: Blackshirts Stuff Penn State

By NU Athletic Communications
Tight end Junior Miller helped the Huskers power past Penn State, 42-17.
Tight end Junior Miller helped the Huskers power past Penn State, 42-17.
Photo by University Communications

The Huskers held No. 18 Penn State to just 60 rushing yards on the game and just 66 yards of total offense in the second half as the No. 6 Huskers throttled the Nittany Lions, 42-17, on Sept. 29, 1979 in this week in Husker History.

While Nebraska was dominant as the game wore on, Penn State took an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter.  After a 18-yard touchdown pass from Dayle Tate to Brad Scovill gave PSU the lead midway through the first quarter, a Tim Hager pass was intercepted returned 30 yards to give the Nittany Lions a 14-0 lead with 2:54 remaining in the first quarter. 

Hager almost immediately redeemed himself for his mistake, leading a Husker drive 85 yards and 13 plays and putting the Huskers on the board with a 11-yard touchdown pass to Junior Miller to cut Penn State’s lead in half 52 seconds into the second quarter. 

Hager and Miller would connect again later in the second quarter, as NU tied the game on a 70-yard touchdown pass from Hager to Miller with seven minutes to go in the half. 

The Nittany Lions turned the ball over on the first play on the ensuing drive, giving Nebraska the ball at the PSU 15.  Three plays later, a 16-yard touchdown run on a reverse by Kenny Brown gave the Huskers their first lead of the game at 21-14 with 5:57 to go in the second quarter. 

Nebraska would polish off their 28-point second quarter on the following drive with a four-play, 58-yard scoring drive keyed by a 34-yard run by Andra Franklin.  Two plays later, Franklin would score from five yards out to give NU a 28-14 lead, which they carried to halftime. 

Penn State would finally answer early in the third quarter, thanks to a Nebraska turnover.  An I.M. Hipp fumble gave the Lions the ball at the NU 25, but PSU had to settle for a 35-yard field goal by Herb Menhardt cut Nebraska’s lead to 28-17.

It was in the third quarter that the Blackshirts turned up the heat on Penn State.  The Nittany Lions picked up just four first downs in the second half. 

While the defense stymied the PSU offense, the Nebraska offense put the game away with a pair of long scoring drives in the fourth quarter.  In their first drive of the fourth quarter, the Huskers marched 69 yards in 13 plays and built their lead to 35-17 with a seven-yard touchdown run by Tim Wurth with 8:24 left in the game.

After NU forced a three-and-out on Penn State’s next drive, Nebraska covered 57 yards in 10 plays and finished off the Lions with a four-yard touchdown run by Jim Kotera. 

Jarvis Redwine led the Huskers in rushing with 124 yards in 22 attempts, while Hager was 14-for-22 with 215 yards and two touchdowns passing.  The stout Blackshirt effort was led by Kim Baker and Brent Williams, who notched 16 tackles each. 

Nebraska moved to 3-0 with the win and won its next seven games before losing at No. 8 Oklahoma, 17-14, and to No. 8 Houston in the Cotton Bowl, 17-14.  Penn State went onto to play in the Liberty Bowl and defeat Tulane, 9-6 while finishing No. 20 in the nation. 

All-time, the Huskers are 7-4 on Sept. 29.  Among Nebraska’s other highlights on Sept. 29 in the 25-13 win by NU over Michigan in 1962, an early key victory for Coach Bob Devaney as he rebuilt Nebraska Football, and a 36-3 win by the Huskers over Missouri that featured Eric Crouch’s spectactular school-record 95-yard touchdown run that cemented his place as a Heisman contender in 2001. 


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