The distance: 36 yards
The star: LeRoy Zentic
The date: Oct. 31, 1959
The outcome: Huskers 25, Oklahoma 21
The story: Nebraska looked to be in for another long day when Oklahoma rode into Lincoln for the Homecoming game in 1959 on Halloween.
The Huskers had lost 16 in a row to the Sooners with no signs that 1959 would be any different. Oklahoma hadn’t lost in its previous 74 conference games and was ranked No. 19 in the country. Nebraska was 2-4, losers of three straight.
Trailing 7-0 after the first quarter, Nebraska had to be feeling OK, then gained hope when LeRoy Zentic of Rock Island, Ill., returned a punt 36 yards for a touchdown to put the Huskers in front 12-7 in the second quarter.
This was the radio play-by-play call of the touchdown on KLIN:
“A quick kick for the Sooners that is partially blocked … the ball is rolling free. One of the Huskers has it. He could be going all the way. LeRoy Zentic to the 5; he’s over. LeRoy Zentic picked up that loose ball. … We could have the upset of the year in the making.”
Nebraska outscored OU 13-7 in the second half and one of the greatest upsets in Husker history was complete: Nebraska 25, Oklahoma 21. It was the first conference defeat for Sooner coach Bud Wilkinson. Oklahoma players left for the locker room with seconds still showing on the clock.
Steel goal posts, set in concrete, were pulled down and paraded across campus. Players and fans carried Husker coach Bill Jennings off the field.
"HOW THE MIGHTY ARE FALLEN!" was the headline on the top of the sports section the next day.
University Chancellor Clifford Hardin called it a “great game.” Then, greeted by an ovation said, “There will be no school Monday.”
From Memorial Stadium, throngs moved to the Governor’s Mansion, where they deposited portions of the goal posts on the lawn.
Not to be outdone, Gov. Ralph Brooks hoisted a Nebraska banner, referred to the goal posts as a trophy, and said, “In return, I promise to make every Cornhusker football player an admiral in the great navy of Nebraska.”
The next week, Nebraska lost 18-6 at Iowa State. Jennings coached two more years, with an overall record of just 15-34-1 while coaching from 1957-61.
Bob Devaney took over as head coach in 1962.
— Brent C. Wagner