TEMPE, Ariz. — I-back Keith Jones, who nearly lost his job after fumbling three times in two games, turned into a hero Saturday for second-ranked Nebraska.
Jones raced 62 yards with four minutes left to set up the winning touchdown in the Huskers’ 35-28 victory over No. 12 Arizona State.
A crowd of 71,264 at Sun Devil Stadium, the fourth largest in ASU history, watched on a 95-degree day.
After ASU tied the game at 28 with 4:55 to play, Nebraska moved 82 yards in four plays to go back ahead.
Jones ripped off 12 yards, then rocketed 62 yards to the ASU 7 before Sun Devil cornerback Anthony Parker ran him out of bounds.
Two plays later, quarterback Steve Taylor scored from the 3 and Chris Drennan added the point-after kick for a 35-28 lead.
Linebacker Steve Forch helped secure Nebraska’s third straight victory by intercepting quarterback Dan Ford’s pass at the ASU 31 with 2:33 to play. Safety Brian Washington intercepted a Ford pass at the Nebraska 44-yard, and Taylor dropped on the ball to end the game. The loss dropped the Sun Devils to 2-1.
Earlier in the fourth quarter, a second Taylor fumble deep in Nebraska territory set up another short ASU touchdown drive that tied the game at 28.
Taylor, scrambling from the end zone, got to the 10 but was spun around. The ball came loose and ASU’s Nathan LaDuke recovered at the 13.
Five plays later, I-back Darryl Harris scored from the 1 and Max Zendejas kicked the extra point to tie the game 28-28 with 4:55 to play.
On the first drive of the fourth quarter, Nebraska marched 70 yards in eight plays to break a 21-21 tie.
Taylor hit tight end Todd Millikan for 12 yards before bolting 24 yards to the ASU 23. Three plays later, Taylor found split end Rod Smith for a 12-yard touchdown pass. Drennan’s extra point made it 28-21 with 11:22 left in the game.
The Sun Devils, down 14-6 at half, took the second-half kickoff and roared 80 yards in eight plays for a tying touchdown and two-point conversion.
Ford drilled a 32-yard strike to split end Aaron Cox to the NU 45.
Backup fullback Kirk Wendorf added 12 yards before an 11-yard pass interference penalty against NU cornerback Lorenzo Hicks pushed the ball to the Husker 2.
On the next play, Ford found tight end Chris Garrett wide open in the back of the end zone for a touchdown, making the score 14-12 Nebraska.
On the two-point conversion, Ford hit Cox in the end zone, but an illegal motion penalty wiped out the play.
But from the 8, ASU converted anyway. Ford hit fullback Channing Williams at the 2, and the 217-pounder carried Nebraska defensive backs Mark Blazek and Jeff Tomjack into the end zone to tie the game 14-14.
Nebraska dipped deep into its bag of tricks to regain the lead and temporarily quiet the crowd.
After driving to the ASU 22, Shawn Patterson’s 5-yard sack of Taylor help stall the drive.
On fourth and 11 from the ASU 27, Nebraska lined up in field-goal formation for what would have been a 44-yard attempt. But the Huskers faked it.
Holder Clete Blakeman took the snap, rolled right, then threw back across the field on a screen to Millikan. Behind Bob Sledge’s block, Millikan rumbled 26 yards to the ASU 1. Jones scored on the next play to put Nebraska ahead 21-14.
The Huskers forced a punt and got the ball back at its own 20. But on the first play, nose guard Saute Sapolu stripped Taylor of the ball and recovered it at the Husker 15.
Four plays later, Harris bolted in from the 4 and Max Zendejas added the point to tie the game 21-21 with 2:45 left in the third quarter.
The first half was mostly a display of power football. Nebraska shoved its way into Arizona State territory twice in five possessions, scoring two touchdowns.
The Sun Devils got into Husker turf three times in five tries, but produced just two field goals.
Arizona State made the first scoring threat of the game on its second drive after forcing Nebraska to punt twice.
Ford hit Cox for 25 yards on the first play, then threw 7 yards to tight end Gary Knudson to the NU 40.
The Sun Devils churned out another first down, then Ford threw to the end zone on first and 10 at the NU 30. Cox was open, but Ford tossed the ball right to Blazek, who made a tumbling interception 5 yards deep in the end zone to stop the drive.
On the first play of the next possession, Taylor rolled right on a run-pass option and followed center Jake Young 32 yards to the ASU 48, Nebraska’s first penetration past midfield.
Two plays later, Taylor ran 12 yards on a scramble to the 34, then saved the drive with a jitterbug move.
On fourth and 1 from the 25, Taylor faked on the option to fullback Micah Heibel and ducked up the middle for 12 yards to the 13.
Taylor produced another first down with a 6-yard scramble, then finished the drive with a 1-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown.
Drennan’s extra point gave Nebraska a 7-0 lead with 13:10 left in the second quarter.
Arizona State came back after Nebraska’s 11-play, 80-yard drive to march 62 yards in 13 plays. Ford’s 11-yard scramble, his 11-yard pass to flanker Tony Johnson and Williams’ 11-yard run moved the ball to the Husker 22.
But the defense stiffened, allowing just 4 yards in three plays.
Zendejas kicked a 36-yard field goal to cut ASU’s gap to 7-3 with 7:15 to play in the half.
Nebraska tried to come back with the quick strike.
On the fourth play of the next drive, Taylor pitched the ball to I-back Ken Clark, who flipped it back to Taylor, who launched an apparent 66-yard touchdown bomb to wingback Dana Brinson. But a penalty for ineligible receiver downfield nullified the play.
So Nebraska began grinding it out. Clark’s 17-yard burst and Taylor’s 10-yard pass to Brinson got the ball to the ASU 37. Four plays later, Taylor found Millikan for 24 yards over the middle to the ASU 1.
From there, Heibel plowed in for the touchdown to make it 14-3 Nebraska with 2:19 to play in the half.
Nebraska forced Arizona State to punt quickly and got the ball back at its own 37 with 1:21 to play.
But Taylor overthrew tight end Keith Neubert and ASU free safety Bernard Jones intercepted. He returned the ball 18 yards and fumbled, but defensive end Pat Taylor recovered to give ASU the ball at the NU 49 with 36 seconds to play.
The Sun Devils moved to the NU 14 on Ford’s 18-yard pass to Cox.
And on a crossing pattern into the end zone, the Sun Devils appeared to have a touchdown. But Ford’s pass skimmed off Johnson’s hands with 14 seconds left.
After a 3-yard pass, Arizona State then settled for Zendejas’ 28-yard field goal as time ran out, making it 14-6 Nebraska at half.
|Yards per carry||4.0||6.7|
Nebraska is 6-2 all-time against Arizona State.
|Utah State||Sept. 5|
|Arizona State||Sept. 26|
|South Carolina||Oct. 3|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 17|
|Kansas State||Oct. 24|
|Iowa State||Nov. 7|
|Florida State||Jan. 1|
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