LINCOLN — Quarterback Jammal Lord rushed for 103 yards in his first start as Nebraska's quarterback and the Nebraska defense and special teams dominated Arizona State in the second half Saturday night as the Huskers posted a 48-10 victory in the Black Coaches Association Classic.
A crowd of 77,779, the 248th consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium, watched as the Nos. 8 and 10 Huskers won their 17th straight season opener and ran their nation-leading home-field win streak to 22 games.
Lord, who succeeded Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch, rushed 17 times for 103 yards and completed 5 of 13 passes for 33 yards and a touchdown. Neither he nor his teammates committed a turnover.
"Jammal played as I hoped, as I expected," Coach Frank Solich said. "I thought he would handle the pressure very well. There wasn't a college athlete in the country under any more pressure than he was under for this game ... I don't know that he could have stepped in and done any better than he did."
Playing on a short field much of the night, the Huskers generated 316 yards of total offense - their lowest total in a regular season game since they generated 270 against Notre Dame in the third game last season. But it was more than enough on a night when the defense and special teams turned up the heat on the Sun Devils, particularly in the second half.
They blocked two Tim Parker punts, with each leading to touchdowns, and true freshman Fabian Washington returned an interception for another score late in the game.
Arizona State generated just 117 of its 258 yards in the third and fourth quarters as the Huskers outscored the Sun Devils 38-7 after leading by just a touchdown at halftime.
For all that the defense accomplished, though, this was Lord's night.
The junior from Bayonne, N.J., had waited three years for his chance to lead the Husker offense. With his mother, Claudia Lord, watching him for the first time since he was in high school, he showed poise in his first career start.
Lord was the main attraction in the first half, rushing 12 times for 71 yards and completing 3 of 6 passes for 26 yards. More important than the numbers was the poise he showed in his first start.
The junior from Bayonne, N.J., opened the game by leading the Huskers on a 10-play, 56-yard scoring drive that ended with Josh Brown's 40-yard field goal.
I-back Dahrran Diedrick ripped off gains of 15 and 12 yards, and Lord connected with wingback Troy Hassebroek on a 22-yard pass on a third-and-9 to set up Brown's kick.
The only mistake Lord made during the first series was pitching too late to Diedrick on an option play. Lord was called for an illegal forward pass.
With Chad Christensen making his first career start at quarterback for ASU, the Sun Devils were able to move against the NU defense on their opening possession. Christensen moved ASU from his 20 to the NU 48, but under pressure from NU's Aaron Terpening and Adams, he threw short of Shaun McDonald on third down, and the Devils had to punt.
After forcing the Huskers to go three and out on their ensuing series, the Sun Devils embarked on an 11-play, 37-yard drive that ended with Mike Barth's 33-yard field goal. Christensen made several good plays to keep the series alive, slipping Terpening in the backfield to convert a third down and hitting tight end Mike Pinkard and Cornell Canidate for gains of 17 and 11 yards.
Lord ran four times for 52 yards to key a 72-yard drive that gave the Huskers a 10-3 lead.
Lord scrambled away from ASU linebacker Solomon Bates en route to a 33-yard gain on the first play. Later, on a fourth-and-3, he dropped back to pass before tearing upfield for an 8-yard gain and first down.
"He'll be a nightmare to control," Solich said, "because of his ability to hurt you not only with the pass but his ability to come out of the pocket and run."
Four plays later, after one of ASU's three personal fouls, Judd Davies barreled over the goal line from 2 yards out to put the Huskers on top.
The Huskers broke open a 10-3 lead at halftime by scoring two touchdowns in the first six minutes of the third quarter.
Demoine Adams and Lannie Hopkins combined for a sack of Christensen at his own 1-yard line, and then Parker dribbled a 19-yard punt to set up the Huskers 20 yards from the end zone.
The Huskers led 17-3 six plays later when Lord passed 9 yards to a wide-open Wilson Thomas on the left side of the end zone.
The Blackshirt defense came up big on the ensuing series, with Chris Kelsay sacking Christensen at his 10 to force another Parker punt from his end zone. This time, Williams crashed through to block Parker's kick, and Scott Shanle ran the ball in from 6 yards out to put the Huskers up 24 - 3.
Arizona State pulled within 24-10 late in the third quarter when tailback Mike Williams broke a 34-yard touchdown run, capping a five-play, 49-yard drive.
The Huskers would go on to score 24 straight points.
Brown kicked his second field goal of the game, a 42-yarder, to hike the Huskers advantage to 27-10 with 10:21 left in the game.
It was 34-10 midway through the fourth after Hopkins blocked a Parker punt and Williams recovered at the ASU 9. Diedrick scored two plays later from 2 yards out.
No. 2 quarterback Mike Stuntz entered with 5:15 to play and led the Huskers on a six-play, 55-yard scoring drive that reserve I-back Cory Ross finished with a 34-yard TD run with 2:10 left.
Moments later, the Huskers scored again when Fabian Washington picked off ASU's third-string quarterback, Andy Goodenough, and returned the interception 29 yards for a touchdown.
Solich said he was impressed with how Lord made something out of nothing on several occasions.
"He made big plays for us time and time again," Solich said of Lord. "We've been fortunate to have tough, physical quarterbacks in our system, and he's proven to be one of those kinds of quarterbacks. He was able to drop back and pass, and when he didn't like things, he took off and ran. He got hit a great deal in the passing game. But he took all that and accepted all the pressure placed on him replacing the Heisman Trophy winner. He initially had a great game and I'm proud of what he got done."
|Yards per carry||2.8||4.8|
Nebraska is 6-2 all-time against Arizona State.
|Arizona State||Aug. 24|
|Troy State||Aug. 31|
|Utah State||Sept. 7|
|Penn State||Sept. 14|
|Iowa State||Sept. 28|
|McNeese State||Oct. 5|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 19|
|Texas A&M||Oct. 26|
|Kansas State||Nov. 16|
Nebraska hasn't played any other games on Aug. 24.
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