REDS FALL TO WHITES, 29-26;
GARCIA STARS FOR SECOND YEAR
Lincoln, Nebraska (May 1, 1976) — In a game that was exciting for both the players and the fans, quarterback Randy Garcia led an inspired White team to a 29-26 upset win over the Reds in Nebraska's annual Spring Game, before 18,135 fans at Memorial Stadium.
The Whites scored first, on a 52-yard field goal by freshman kicker Dean Sukup, with 4:01 left in the first quarter. But due to an 80-yard, scoring punt return by the Reds' Dave Butterfield with no time left on the first quarter clock, the Whites trailed 7-3 entering the second period.
However, at the start of the second quarter, Garcia led a drive that went 93 yards in 13 plays, putting the Whites back up on top 9-7, after Sukup's extra point was no good. Not to be outclassed, the favored Reds scored on two Ron VanderMeer field goals, 40- and 37-yard attempts, to put the Reds in the lockerroom with a 13-9 lead.
Quarterback Vince Ferragamo and the Red team opened up the second half scoring early in the third period, following a White fumble, and drove 33 yards in eight plays to take what appeared to be a comfortable 20-9 lead.
But this time it was the defense and not the offense,that came to the Whites' rescue. With 6:14 left in the third, Red punter Randy Lessman's kick was blocked by White defensive end Reg Gast at the Reds' 28. Then, monster Jim Pillen picked up the rolling ball and returned it for a touchdown, pulling the Whites to within five at 20-15, and setting up a hectic fourth quarter.
During the final period, the lead changed hands three times, and twice in the final four minutes of play. With the Reds leading 26-23 with only 2:22 to play, White defensive back Paul Letcher intercepted a Tim Hager pass at the Reds' 33 yard line.
Five plays later, Garcia found wingback Kenny Brown open in the end zone and hit him with a 21-yard scoring pass with 1:19 left in the game, to give the Whites a 29-26 lead.
But it was not over, as the Reds had a chance to tie it with only 14 seconds remaining. However, VanderMeer's 40-yard field goal attempt was wide and the Whites had defeated the favored Reds 29-26, for their second straight win. Last year, the Whites upset the Reds 20-6.
And just like last year, it was Garcia who paced the Whites. For the day, he was 9 of 17 for 129 yards, including the game-winning touchdown pass to Brown. He didn't throw any interceptions.
SOURCE: 1976 NU MEDIA GUIDE