0Tommie Frazier may not have known the dentist working on his teeth was a Nebraska football legend, too.

Both of these men were quarterbacks. Both had a part in big winning steaks. Frazier and his team created one of the longest winning streaks in NCAA history and Dr. Harry Tolly and his team ended the longest winning steak in conference history on Oct. 31, 1959.

"It wasn't a very nice day — kind of a rainy and dreary day," Tolly said. "It was also Homecoming and Halloween. Oklahoma got the ball first and took it right down the field and scored. Most folks expected that.

"The fans didn't expect us to do the same thing. We even went for a two-point conversion but didn't get it. That didn't matter so much. We discovered they weren't super human and we could play with them.

Tolly knew Oklahoma's 74-game conference winning streak was in trouble.

"It was a close game all of the way," Tolly said. "We continued to hang in there with them and during the second half, the stadium started to fill."

Crowds in those days were often sparse and on this dreary day with the dreadknot of college football in town, the stadium had plenty of great seats in the East and West stadium. No North or South stadium existed, other than the "knothole" section and there were not any place for additions.

Memorial Stadium could seat 48,000 folks and coach Bill Jennings thought that was more than the state of Nebraska would ever need.

"I guess people were listening on the radio and suddenly realized a little college football history was unfolding at the stadium," Tolly said. "There were around 32,000 fans there by the end of the game. That was the largest crowd I had ever seen in that stadium."

It was worth the late afternoon hustle to get a seat in the drizzle. On the last play of the game, Nebraska made an end zone interception of Oklahoma's last hope to win.

Nebraska 25, Oklahoma 21 — football history had been made in Lincoln.

"The crowd went nuts," Tolly said. "The fans ripped the goal posts down and paraded them through the streets of Lincoln. Folks were still in the stadium after we had showered and come out of the field house."

The celebrating continued the next day with a goal post snake parade from the campus to the Chancellor's home. He came out and greeted the students and called classes off on Monday to mark the Oklahoma win.

Tolly's father was a coach and this very happy "upsetter" of a quarterback was following in his dad's footsteps. He was an education major and planned to go on for an advanced degree and become a coach, too.

"I had an opportunity to become a graduate assistant for Bill Jennings after graduation and decided to take it," Tolly said.

He liked Bill Jennings and admired his approach to coaching.

"We practiced a lot and some say we left some of our best games on the practice field," Tolly said. "But I think Jennings was on the right track."

Jennings proved the point again the following year by beating Oklahoma again in Norman, 17-14. But his time at Nebraska was over and the new coach from Wyoming was setting up shop in Lincoln.

"I liked Bob Devaney but I was having second thoughts about coaching so I applied for dental school and was accepted," Tolly said. "I told coach Devaney about my chance to go to dental school and he told me to take it. He said if I had a chance to go to a professional school, I should do it because it would be a lot more secure than coaching."

Young coach Tolly left the sidelines for the last time during the spring of Devaney's first year at Nebraska.

Who did Devaney name to the newly vacated graduate assistant post?

"Some guy named Osborne," Tolly said with a big grin. "That was my other big contribution to Nebraska football. I made room for Tom Osborne."

Frazier picked the right dentist. After all, who would know more about smash-mouth football, winning the big one, and creating a winning smile than Dr. Harry Tolly, No. 21, the quarterback from the Oklahoma-beating Husker team of 1959.

Tolly and his teammates taught a bunch of damp Husker fans how to light a rocket, and an entire state soon learned how much fun it is to watch it fly.

Sign up for TheIndependent.com Email Alerts

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Recommended for you

Load comments