Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

'Huskers' Orange Win Saved Big Flap over Kick Ruling

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

'Huskers' Orange Win Saved Big Flap over Kick Ruling

Article excerpt

If Nebraska had lost to Miami by a point or two - and a miss would have been a mile in the Cornhuskers' long uphill climb to a national championship - a decision by game officials might have been dissected.

When Tom Osborne and his gladiators trailed by nine points late in the third period of the Orange Bowl game, a high snap sailed over the head of Hurricanes punter Dane Prewitt.

The Miami punter, his patience worn thin by repeated sour snaps, lost his cool. Trying to sidesweep the rolling ball, he kicked it into his own end zone. Safety!

Nope, the huddling officials ruled. They obviously were confused by the unusual play, and fell back on the rule that calls for a penalty for kicking "a loose ball."

A penalty from the point of the foul, half the distance to the goal line because of the proximity to the end zone, gave Nebraska possession at the Miami 4.

It looked like a pretty good break for Nebraska - it seemed as if the 'Huskers might end up getting seven points instead of two.

Then Nebraska quarterback Brock Berringer threw an ill-fated pass.

An end-zone interception seemed to bury Berringer and his buddies, but, lo, with Tommy Frazier returning and running through wearying Hurricanes, the 'Huskers pulled out a 24-17 victory.

But what if they had lost by a point or two?

Historically, the rule penalizing a player for kicking "a loose ball" resulted from the shenanigans of the second Heisman Trophy winner, Yale end Larry Kelley, in 1936. The flamboyant redhead, chasing a fumble against Navy, deliberately kicked the ball deeper so that he could corral it for the Eli close to the Middies' goal, setting up a winning touchdown.

A rule imposed the next year is severe because it can be enforced even when the kick is inadvertent.

It happened in a late-season game between the football Cardinals and Cleveland here some years ago. …

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