The third-ranked college football team in America used a high school play today and it almost salvaged a game.
Facing third and 14 on the Oklahoma 15 with 4:43 left in the game, Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne called a play he had seen high school teams use during scouting trips.
Quarterback Jeff Quinn took the snap from center Kelly Saalfield, turned and placed the ball on the ground in back of him.
As Quinn sprinted to the right without the ball, guard Randy Schleusener pulled from his spot on the right side of the line and picked the ball from the ground. With the defense confused, Schleusener was able to dash into the Oklahoma end zone to cut the gap to 17-14.
Although Nebraska did not score on its last two possessions, and lost, 17-14, the Cornhuskers had the chance to pull the game out, thanks to the guard-around trick play.
Under the rules, Schleusener could pick the ball up because, technically, Quinn had fumbled. In college football, although the defense may not advance a fumble once it hits the ground, the offense can. Thus, Schleusener was credited with a 15-yard touchdown run with a recovered fumble.
"We talked to the officials about the play before the game," Osborne said, "so they would understand it was legal if we used it.
"We've never run it before, except in practice. I first saw it used in high school games. I've seen it used there several times."
Osborne said the Cornhuskers tried to play once earlier in the game but Quinn was hit before he had a chance to let go of the ball and the play never evolved.
"Sure, it took us by surprise," Oklahoma Coach Barry Switzer said. "They scored a touchdown on it, didn't they? Can't say I remember ever seeing it in college before, but I guess we might see it again in the future." s
Schleusener said he was not suprised to hear Quinn calling the play in the huddle because it had been called earlier in the game.
"The time was right," he said. "We needed a big play and it was a good time to try something different, something they hadn't seen. We figured at worst it would pick up enough yards to give us a reasonable chance to pick up the first down."
There was a somber note that a few in the crown noticed. After Billy Sims' 71-yard run, which set up OU's clinching touchdown, many in the stadium thought Sims had scored, including the Oklahoma cheerleaders and the man driving the Sooner Schooner, a covered wagon drawn by two ponies. a
As the Sooner Schooner circled the field in celebration of the non-touchdown, it suddenly veered and struck one of the celebrating cheerleaders, who never saw what hit him.
The cheerleader got up, walked for several steps, then fell down on the sideline. He was immediately taken from the stadium on a stretcher.
An Oklahoma spokesman, who said he did not know the cheerleader's name, said initial reports indicated he was not seriously hurt. The spokesman quickly added, "This has never happened before."
The cheerleader was taken to Norman Hospital, where he was treated for cuts and bruises and realeased.