THIRD-QUARTER COMEBACK, CLUTCH DEFENSE,
PUSH NEBRASKA PAST TEXAS TECH 27-24
IN EIGHTEENTH ANNUAL ASTRO-BLUEBONNET BOWL
Houston, Texas (December 31, 1976) — Two back-to-back third-quarter touchdowns moved Nebraska from a 24-14 deficit to a 27-24 victory over the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the 1976 Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl.
Nebraska's third-quarter touchdowns came on an 18-yard run by Rick Berns, who ended the game with 118 yards on 27 carries, and a 23-yard Vince Ferragamo to Chuck Malito pass. The touchdown pass was set up by a partially blocked Texas Tech punt—by Kent Smith and Ted Harvey.
With the score Nebraska 27, Texas Tech 24 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the game was far from over. Because twice before in '76 — against Missouri and Oklahoma — the Huskers saw fourth quarter leads vanish.
But the third time was the charm for Nebraska. With 4:33 left in the game, a 37-yard Red Raider field goal attempt that would have tied the game by kicker Brian Hall sailed wide.
Nebraska took over after the missed field goal on their own 20-yard-line and marched to the TT 30, but there the drive stalled with 1:44 left, and the Red Raiders took over.
However, on Tech's first play, quarterback Rodney Allison, who gained 282 yards in total offense, was sacked by defensive tackle Ron Pruitt and fumbled. Husker defensive end Reg Gast recovered the ball and sealed the victory for NU.
It was one of the most closely-fought bowl games of the season, with Nebraska and Texas Tech exchanging early scores.
The Huskers scored on the first possession of the game, driving 80 yards in 19 plays. Ferragamo was brilliant in the Husker march, converting four third down plays into first downs. Berns capped the drive on a one-yard touchdown plunge.
Tech countered with a 28-yard field goal by Hall and a 14-yard touchdown pass from Allison, the game's most valuable back, to Billy Taylor.
Taylor struck again later in the second quarter. After the Red Raiders got the ball on the NU 16-yard line via an errant Nebraska pitch, Taylor caught an 11-yard scoring pass from Allison. Score: Texas Tech 17, Nebraska 7.
Nebraska pulled to within three just before halftime — scoring on an 80-yard drive in just eight plays. Ferragamo connected with tight end Mark Dufresne for the score. Texas Tech came back with a touchdown of their own at the opening of the third quarter to make the score Tech 24, NU 14. And the stage was set for the exciting comeback that would give the game to the Huskers.
It was a fitting finish to the college careers of Nebraska seniors Ferragamo and Malito. Ferragamo tossed two TD's in the contest to make his total 22 for the year — a Nebraska record. Malito ended the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl game with three pass receptions for 107 yards and one touchdown, earning him honors as the game's most valuable lineman.
SOURCE: 1977 NU MEDIA GUIDE