REDS SURVIVE WHITE SCARE, 23-21;
BIG PLAYS CHARACTERIZE CLOSE GAME
Lincoln, Neb. (April 30, 1977) — Nebraska's 28th annual Spring Game, played before 13,038 fans in Memorial Stadium, proved one thing for the Husker coaching staff — Nebraska's offense is capable of making the big plays.
In a game filled with big plays — kick returns and long passes — the Reds nipped a determined White team, 23-21. And perhaps, the game was even closer than the score indicated.
The outcome was in doubt until the final gun. When White-team running back Tim Wurth scored on a four-yard run with 1:35 left in the game to make the score Reds, 23, Whites 21, the Whites had a chance to tie the game on a two-point conversion. However, on the two-point run, fullback Keith Steward was stopped inches short of the goal-line, preserving the Red victory.
For six minutes of the first quarter, the Reds appeared to own the game. Like an army, the Reds, quarterbacked by senior Randy Garcia, marched 63 yards in 16 plays to score on a one-yard Rick Berns run.
On the following kickoff, with the score 7-0, the game saw the first of its many game-breaking plays. Senior Earl Everett fielded the kick on the four-yard line, and dodging would-be tacklers, raced 96 yards for a touchdown. Everett's run set a Spring Game record as the longest kickoff return.
Quarterback Tom Sorley directed the White attack in the first quarter. After a fumble recovery on the Red 43-yard line, Sorley moved his team to the four. Dean Sukup's field goal put the Whites ahead 9-7.
The biggest play-maker of the game was Red split end Frank Lockett, a JC transfer from Contra Costa College in California. Twice when his team was behind, it was Lockett who gave the lead back to the Reds. Opening up the second quarter, with his first big scoring play, Lockett hauled in a 39-yard Ed Burns pass to put the Reds on top 14-9. Lockett's second touchdown would have to wait until after halftime.
Early in the third quarter, the Whites had taken a 15-14 lead on a four-yard Tim Wurth run. Then, eight minutes later, Tim Smith punted to Lockett on the 26-yard line. Eluding tacklers, Lockett duplicated Earl Everett's first-quarter feat, and returned the kick 74 yards for a score. Lockett's run made the score Reds 20, Whites 15.
The Red lead was extended to an eight-point bulge on a 36-yard Billy Todd field goal, which set the scene for the Whites last minute near heroics.
Such a closely-fought game may have been just what the fans ordered, but it only compounded the dilemma of Head Coach Tom Osborne, looking for a first-string quarterback for the 1977 season. Five quarterbacks performed admirably in the contest — senior Randy Garcia (8-12 for 84 yards), senior Ed Burns (4-7 for 63 yards), junior Tom Sorley (5-10 for 62 yards, and 6 rushes for 32 yards), sophomore Jeff Quinn (1-3 for 13 yards, and 11 rushes for 37 yards), and junior Tim Hager (4-9 for 82 yards.)
SOURCE: 1977 NU MEDIA GUIDE