Cotton Bowl

1980

 

Houston 17

Nebraska 14

Nebraska Fight Song

 

Dallas (UPI)- Terry Elston had done it so many times this season that it had become a habit. And habits, as Elston showed on an unseasonably mild afternoon in the Cotton Bowl Tuesday, are hard to break.

 

Once again, for the fourth time this season, Elston- Houston's rangy backup quarterback- rallied the Cougars to a win in the final quarter.

 

This time however, he waited until 12 seconds were left before throwing a 6-yard touchdown pass that ricocheted off a defender and finally settled in the arms of wide receiver Eric Herring.

 

That desperation fourth-down throw brought Houston a 17-14 victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers in a game that started out dull and ended with a flair. It also secured for Elston the offensive player of the game honors.

 

The 1980 Cotton Bowl almost matched the excitement of the 1979 version. Last year Notre Dame pulled out a last second victory over Houston on a play similar to Elston's pass at almost exactly the same place on the field.

 

The winning touchdown pass came as close as possible to an incompletion.

 

"We were going to me all the way on that pass," said Herring, who like Elston is a junior. "There were two guys there and I reached up for it and kind of hit it up and caught it."

 

Nebraska defensive back Rick Lindquist was the defender who almost deflected the ball away.

 

"I thought I had knocked it down," said Lindquist, "but it bounced back up and he caught it."

 

"It hit Rick," said Nebraska's Russell Gary, who came close to breaking up the pass himself. "I turned around and it was in that guy's hands."

 

The touchdown pass- the first for Elston this season- ended a bizarre fourth quarter filled with Nebraska trick plays and gave No. 6 Houston its second Cotton Bowl triumph in four years.

 

The first three quarters developed into a lackluster defensive battle and the game seemed headed for a 7-7 tie. But in the fourth quarter the game opened up as Houston took the lead with 8:25 to play on a 41-yard field goal by Kenny Hatfield.

 

Nebraska rushed back to take a 14-10 advantage on a 6-yard throw from Jeff Quinn to Jeff Finn- a score set up by one of the Cornhusker's unusual plays.

 

But Elston, a junior backup quarterback who replaced starter Delrick Brown to begin the second quarter, marched Houston 61 yards under pressure for the winning score by hitting Herring with three passes of 10, 15 and 11 yards to help take the ball to the Nebraska 9.

 

Elston then gained 4 yards and after Houston had taken its last timeout, was barely able to scramble out of bounds for a yard loss on the next play. Elston threw incomplete and, on fourth down, spotted Herring between two defenders in the end zone.

 

The pass skipped off the arm of one Cornhusker defensive back, Herring juggled the ball once, and then safely clutched it for the winning score.

 

Until the last-quarter flurry, the only scores had come on a 9-yard run by Nebraska tailback Jarvis Redwine with five minutes left in the first quarter and on an 8-yard run by Elston early in the second period.

 

Houston, which had lost in the last second of the 1979 Cotton Bowl to Notre Dame, finished its year with an 11-1 record while the Cornhuskers wound up 10-2 after losing their second straight game.

 

Houston's go-ahead field goal came after Elston guided the Cougars from their own 17 to the Nebraska 24, hitting wide receiver Lonell Phea with a 20-yard pass along the way.

 

Nebraska appeared stopped after that field goal and punted the ball away to Houston, the 17th punt in the game. But Houston fumbled the ball at its own 31, giving the Cornhuskers a chance to gain the lead.

 

The Huskers picked up 13 yards in one trick play, Redwine taking a pitchout and then throwing a pass back to the quarterback Quinn. That took the ball to the Houston 10 an set up the weirdest play of the game.

 

Facing a third and goal situation at the Houston 6, Nebraska lined up 10 members of the team on the far left side of the field while Quinn stood over the ball all by himself on the right hash mark. Quinn scooped the ball sideways in what amounted to a shovel pass half way across the field to Redwine, who proceeded to score.

 

But Nebraska was ruled in motion on the play and Houston was offsides for offsetting penalties. Nebraska promptly scored the touchdown, however, on a more common play- the Quinn to Finn pass.

 

Even after Houston's climatic touchdown Nebraska was still trying tricks.

 

The winning play with 12 seconds left to play: Lindquist deflects Elston's pass to Herring.

 

Terry Elston on 8 yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

 

Jarvis Redwine led the Huskers in rushing and scored a touchdown.

 

The Cougar defense stifled Nebraska.

 

Coaching legends Bill Yoeman and Tom Osborne.

 

Attendance- 64,017

 

Scoring Summary

 

First Quarter

NU- Redwine 9 run (Sukup kick)

 

Second Quarter

UH- Elston 8 run (Hatfield kick)

 

Fourth Quarter

UH-FG Hatfield 41

NU- Finn 6 yard pass from Quinn (Sukup kick)

UH- Herring 6 yard pass from Elston (Hatfield kick)

 

Individual Statistics

 

Rushing

UH- Elston 22-87, Newhouse 15-64

NU- Redwine 17-58, Franklin 12-40

 

Passing

UH- Elston 9-16-119

NU- Quinn 10-19-78

 

Receiving

UH- Herring 5-51, Phea 2-47

NU- Brown 5-30, Miller 2-26

 

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