LAWRENCE, Kan. — When things looked bleakest Saturday for 11th-ranked Nebraska — down 17 points in the second quarter and without its injured 1,000-yard I-back — along came Jones to save the day.
Backup I-back Calvin Jones raced off the bench and raced past Heisman Trophy winners Mike Rozier, Barry Sanders and Steve Owens in the school and Big Eight record books by rushing for 294 yards and six touchdowns to lead Nebraska to a 59-23 victory over Kansas.
The redshirt freshman out of Omaha Central dazzled the estimated crowd of 40,000 at KU’s Memorial Stadium — including about 8,000 in red — with scoring runs of 1, 3, 9, 12, 47 and 68 yards among his 27 carries.
All of that came in the final three quarters after starter Derek Brown, the nation’s No. 5 rusher, left the game suffering from blurred vision.
“Calvin is a great player,” NU Coach Tom Osborne said. “We knew he could play well.
“He’s a big back and he’s got speed. Give him a crack and he can go.”
Jones’ sixth touchdown put Nebraska ahead 45-23 with 10:41 left in the game and boosted his rushing total to 276 yards. That was nine short of Rozier’s school record of 285 yards in 31 carries against Kansas in 1983.
Jones returned for the next series, alternating with No. 3 I-back George Achola. The 5-foot-11, 205-pounder gained 8 yards, then lost 2 before breaking the NU record with 6:20 to play on a 6-yard burst up the middle.
“We wanted to make sure he got it,” Osborne said. “We gave him a couple of extra carries.
“We don’t normally make concessions to records, but we thought in that case we wanted to make sure he got it.”
Some Huskers wanted Jones to tote the ball even more.
“We were trying to get coach to put him back in again so he could get 300,” outside linebacker David White said. “But coach said that was enough.”
Jones fell 48 yards short of the Big Eight rushing record of 342 set by Colorado’s Charlie Davis vs. Oklahoma State in 1971.
But his six touchdowns broke the modern-day league record held by four players — Owens of Oklahoma in 1968, Sanders of Oklahoma State in 1988, Terry Miller of Oklahoma State in 1976 and Joe Henderson of Iowa State in 1988.
In the NU record book, Jones even matched the pre-war mark of six touchdowns in one game established by Bill Chaloupka in 1907 and tied by Harvey Rathbone twice in 1910.
But because touchdowns were worth five points then, Jones’ 36 points broke the all-time school record for single-game points.
The performance left NU Athletic Director Bob Devaney, a 55-year football veteran, shaking his head.
“I have never known of a non-starter to break that type of record,” Devaney said. “It’s just remarkable.”
Maybe the only thing more remarkable on the sunny, 44-degree day was that Nebraska, 7-1-1 overall and tied for the Big Eight lead at 4-0-1, was behind 17-0 after the first quarter and sweating its brains out.
“We got a pretty good scare,” Osborne said. “At the end of the first quarter, I thought we’d have a hard time winning it.
“The thing we couldn’t do was give Kansas momentum and belief they could win. Of course, that’s just what we did. We made about every mistake we could possibly make, but we survived.”
Down 20-17 at halftime, Osborne said he followed his players’ advice and chose to kick into a 20-mph south wind to start the second half.
“They said they thought they could hold Kansas in the third quarter,” he said. “That was the key to the game — the fact that we scored twice going into the wind and they only got three points. They needed more than that.”
Jones had runs of 8, 9, 11, 13 and 14 yards on NU’s first possession of the second half before scoring from the 9. That produced the Huskers’ first lead of the game at 24-20 with 8:46 left in the third quarter.
Jones’ 1-yard TD run capped a 54-yard drive on NU’s next possession for a 31-20 lead with 3:57 left in the third quarter.
After Kansas’ Dan Eichloff kicked a 52-yard field goal on the last play of the quarter to close the gap to 31-23, the Jayhawk fans started stomping.
But on the first play after the kickoff, Jones stamped out any comeback hopes by taking a pitchout and bolting 68 yards down the sideline for a touchdown and a 38-23 lead.
Three more fourth-quarter touchdowns, including two by Achola, left the 15-point underdog Jayhawks gasping through a 23rd straight loss to Nebraska. KU fell to 5-4 and 2-3.
By quarter, Jones ran:
Six times for 83 yards and two touchdowns in the second.
12 times for 93 yards and two TDs in the third.
Nine times for 118 yards and two TDs in the fourth.
Jones’ 294 yards was 10 more than Kansas’ defense, ranked 14th nationally in total yards, had been allowing.
Nebraska finished with 490 yards rushing and 593 total yards.
“I was surprised we were able to run the ball,” Osborne said. “Kansas looked awfully strong inside. There had been no consistent running game against them at all.”
Another thing that surprised Osborne was NU’s slow start. He said he didn’t think his team was flat after the previous game’s tie with Colorado.
But some of the players said they needed time Saturday to get cranked up.
“We were expecting a tough game,” guard Erik Wiegert said. “But face it, this wasn’t as big as Colorado on TV. You can say it is all you want, but it isn’t.
“Still, I thought we came out ready.”
But Kansas blew out of the gate with the help of a blocked punt on the first possession.
NU center Jason Baker’s snap bounced to punter Mike Stigge, giving Kansas outside linebacker Hassan Bailey time to block the kick. Matt Gay recovered at the Nebraska 14.
After one first down, the drive stalled at the NU 2. So Eichloff kicked a 19-yard field goal for a 3-0 KU lead with 9:47 left in the first quarter.
Kansas scored again on its next possession in three plays.
From midfield, quarterback Chip Hilleary faked a pitchout, reverse pivoted and popped a short pass over the middle that tight end Dwayne Chandler turned into a touchdown and a 10-0 lead.
After Nebraska went three downs and out and Stigge punted into the wind for just 30 yards, Kansas scored again in four plays.
Hilleary finished this drive by scrambling up the middle, cutting left and getting a block from his wide receiver Gay to race 34 yards for a touchdown. That put Kansas ahead 17-0 with 2:15 left in the first quarter — NU’s biggest first-quarter deficit since falling behind UCLA 28-0 in 1988.
“I kept asking myself, ‘Geez, what’s going on here?’ “ NU Assistant Kevin Steele said. “It wasn’t any one thing we could put our finger on. It was just something here and something there that had us tied up.”
NU’s White said he wasn’t worried.
“Concerned is a more appropriate word,” he said. “It just took a slap or two in the face to wake us up.”
Nebraska finally broke into Kansas territory on its fourth possession, and continued to the end zone with a 15-play, 80-yard drive.
Brown carried the first six plays for 37 yards. But after two later carries on the drive, he left the game for good with 75 yards on 13 carries.
“Derek took a hit that drove the lining of his helmet down just above his eye,” said NU Associate Trainer Jerry Weber. “It was like a boxer who gets hit and his eye swells and his vision blurs.”
Jones entered to bolt 12 yards to the KU 17. He finished the drive with a 3-yard run, cutting the Jayhawks’ lead to 17-7 with 11:15 left in the half.
George White fumbled the ensuing kickoff from inside the end zone to the KU 3. Two plays later, Nebraska cornerback Kenny Wilhite intercepted a Hilleary pass at the Kansas 34.
The Huskers couldn’t make a first down, so Byron Bennett came in to kick a career-long 47-yard field goal to pull NU within 17-10 with 8:54 left in the half.
Nebraska tied it on the next series with Jones carrying the load again.
His 14-yard run moved the ball to the NU 40. Then two plays later, Jones fielded a pitch on an option left and juked past two defenders on his way to a 47-yard touchdown run. That tied the game at 17 with 5:09 to go in the half.
After a holding penalty nulified a 68-yard run to the NU 2, the Jayhawks recovered well enough to march 76 yards to the Husker 5 before stalling. Eichloff’s 21-yard field goal with 23 seconds to go put KU up 20-17.
“When we went in at halftime, “ NU fullback Lance Lewis said, “we were sure it would go to the fourth quarter. We just stayed calm, kept our heads and talked about what we needed to do. We really got fired up. And it showed. “
|Yards per carry||4.1||8.2|
Nebraska is 91-23 all-time against Kansas.
|Utah State||Sept. 7|
|Colorado State||Sept. 14|
|Arizona State||Sept. 28|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 12|
|Kansas State||Oct. 19|
|Iowa State||Nov. 16|
|Miami (FL)||Jan. 1|
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