UNL vs. Missouri, Oct. 24, 1981

Nebraska's Phil Bates (43) celebrates after scoring the game's only touchdown with 23 seconds left to lift the Huskers to a 6-0 victory against Missouri on Oct. 24, 1981.

The distance: 3 yards

The star: Phil Bates

The date: Oct. 24, 1981

The outcome: Huskers 6, Missouri 0

The story: With 2:36 left in the game and Nebraska 64 yards from glory, the score stood the same as when the day began.

Nebraska 0, Missouri 0.

And there was no indication that it was about to change.

Turner Gill was making just his third start at quarterback. The previous two games, the sophomore had put a jolt into the Husker offense, guiding Nebraska to a combined 108 points.

But now he was facing his first real test, involved in a battle of wills that afterward Tom Osborne would call “the greatest defensive game I’ve ever been involved with.”

Gill's response? He came out slinging. Gill threw for just 99 yards in the game, but the majority of those came in that final drive. He hit Irving Fryar for 13 yards, then connected with Todd Brown for 24, and back to Brown for 21 more.

Suddenly the ball was inside the Missouri 5-yard line. The Huskers were a chip-shot field goal from victory. Granted, Nebraska had already missed three field goals that day.

Osborne kept it simple. Three yards from the end zone, he called “34 trap.”

Nebraska fullback Phil Bates got the ball. Missouri knew he was going to get the ball.

“They were trying to stop that son-of-a-gun,” Bates said after the game. “They were looking for it.”

But Bates veered to his right, using the block of guard Dean Steinkuhler, and powered into the end zone.

There were just 23 seconds left.

“I knew we were going to win,” Bates said. “It was just a matter of time.”

But it’s a good thing for Nebraska that it got the touchdown. The chip-shot field goal we mentioned earlier?

Yeah, well, after the touchdown, the Huskers botched the extra-point kick.

Reach Brian Christopherson at bchristopherson@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. You can follow him on Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.

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