LINCOLN — Another late-game fade Saturday night led to another Nebraska loss to a ranked opponent.
No. 4 Washington scored the game’s final 27 points to thump the No. 9 Huskers 36-21 before 76,304 fans at Memorial Stadium. The loss ran NU’s string of defeats to rated foes to six straight dating back to 1988.
UW gained 618 total yards, the most ever against Nebraska in the 30-year Bob Devaney-Tom Osborne coaching era. The school record for most yards allowed is 656 to Oklahoma in 1956.
The loss was NU’s first to a non-conference foe at home since a 17-13 setback to Florida State in 1985.
In a rally reminiscent of the 27-point burst Colorado used last year to beat Nebraska 27-12, Washington came back from a 21-9 deficit to explode for four touchdowns in the game’s final 15 minutes and 19 seconds.
“We had our chances,” NU Coach Tom Osborne said. “But Washington is a very fine team.
“Our guys played hard. But I think we can play better than this. We better or it will be a long season.”
In the third quarter, Nebraska got a break on special teams to build its biggest lead of the game.
UW tailback Beno Bryant tried to field Mike Stigge’s 50-yard punt at the Husky 3. Bryant dropped it, then saw it squirt away when he fell on it. NU linebacker Mike Anderson, who made a career-high 12 tackles, recovered at the Washington 2.
Nebraska I-back Derek Brown scored on the next play to give the Huskers a 21-9 lead with 5:32 left in the third quarter. Brown gained 100 yards and scored two touchdowns in 21 carries.
But Washington retaliated with a 12-play, 76-yard touchdown drive, and used some fourth-down dramatics to keep it going.
After reaching the NU 33, the Huskies were nailed for a 16-yard holding penalty that created a third-and-27 at the UW 49.
Quarterback Billy Joe Hobert scrambled for 19 yards to set up fourth-and-eight at the 30. Hobert then hit flanker Orlando McKay for 15 yards and a first down.
Bryant made up for his bobble on the next play, bolting 15 yards on a draw for a touchdown to slash NU’s lead to 21-16 with 19 seconds left in the third quarter. Bryant led all rushers with 139 yards in 17 carries.
The Huskies forced Nebraska to punt after three plays, then used just six plays to take their first lead of the game.
Working into a 20-mph south wind, Hobert completed passes of 22 yards to tight end Aaron Pierce and 20 yards to fullback Matt Jones. After Bryant’s 17-yard run, Hobert fumbled the center snap at the NU 8, but Pierce recovered.
On the next play, Hobert hit McKay for an 8-yard touchdown pass and a 22-21 lead with 11:20 to play.
Nebraska’s chance to rally ended two plays later when quarterback Keithen McCant was hit from behind while trying to pass. Roverback Paxton Tailele recovered for UW at the NU 33.
“We had a receiver open,” Osborne said. “But Keithen didn’t have a chance to get rid of it.”
Hobert marched the Huskies into the end zone in eight plays, capping the drive with a 3-yard option run for a 29-21 lead with 7:26 to play.
Nebraska again went three downs and out, and punted with 7:01 to play. Washington tailback Jay Barry then added the coup de grace, breaking a run-out-the-clock draw play for an 81-yard touchdown and the final 36-21 margin with 5:38 to play.
Washington outgained Nebraska 618 yards (335 rushing and 283 passing ) to 308 (135 rushing and 173 passing).
Earlier, Washington took the second-half kickoff and moved 51 yards to the Nebraska 26 before stalling. Travis Hanson kicked a 43-yard field goal with the wind to cut NU’s lead to 14-9 with 12:27 left in the third quarter.
“We just couldn’t get the ball away from them,” Osborne said. “The second half, we didn’t move the ball.”
In the second half, the Huskies held the edge over Nebraska in points (30 to 7), rushing yards (225 to 40), passing yards (124 to 69), total yards (349 to 109) and first downs (17 to 5).
“I don’t think we’re clear out of Washington’s league,” Osborne said. “I think we can play better.
“Our defense is still pretty young. I think they’re going to improve. Before the season is over, they’re going to be pretty decent.’’
Washington’s defense is past decent and on its way to spectacular, Osborne said.
“I would say they are comparable to some of the best defenses we’ve seen over the years,” he said. “They probably compare pretty well with Miami when we played them two or three years ago.”
Nebraska fullback Omar Soto took a lick from that defense on the second play of the game and limped off the field. X-rays revealed a broken right leg for the senior from Miami.
The teams swapped first downs on their first possessions before being forced to punt. Nebraska got a scare when wingback Tyrone Hughes dove for UW’s bouncing punt, but he covered it at the NU 24.
From there, the Huskers stomped 76 yards in six plays for a touchdown. Actually, it was four plays because the first two went for no gain.
McCant scrambled for 16 yards on third down. Brown raced for 11 up the middle. McCant hit Hughes for 22 yards to the UW 27.
Then, from a new formation, Brown took an option pitch left, followed two blocks and bulled through UW cornerback Dana Hall at the 5 on his way to a 27-yard touchdown. On the play, Nebraska lined up with one running back, no wide receivers and two tight wingbacks on the left to break the option open.
Byron Bennett’s extra-point kick put the Huskers up 7-0 with 8:41 left in the first quarter.
Washington drove to the NU 44, but was called for holding. The Huskies used an 18-yard run to get back to the NU 36, but another holding call blunted the drive.
Nebraska gained just 2 yards on its next three possessions. But Washington failed to take advantage.
NU cornerback Kenny Wilhite, who appeared to be beaten deep, picked off an underthrown Hobert pass at the Husker 29 to stop the Huskies on the first play of the second quarter.
Stigge buried Washington at its own 2-yard line with a 68-yard punt — his career-best by 14 yards.
But the Huskies moved 98 yards into the wind for a touchdown.
Five straight running plays produced 37 yards. Two plays after an illegal procedure penalty, Hobert hit split end Mario Bailey for 25 yards to the Husker 39.
On the next play, Bryant broke a draw for 16 yards. Hobert added 14 yards with a pass to split end Curtis Gaspard. Then Hobert capped the 10-play march with a 9-yard quarterback draw for the touchdown.
But it didn’t tie the game. On the extra point, deep snapper Bruce Bailey — a tight end — shot the ball over the head of holder Eric Bjornson. Kicker Hanson had to smother it, leaving Nebraska in the lead 7-6 with 9:07 left in the second quarter.
Hobert, a sophomore making his second career start, completed 23 of 40 passes for 283 yards and one touchdown.
“I thought their passer did a great job,” Osborne said. “We tried a variety of things defensively.
“They just protected him well enough that we couldn’t get to him. When they started hitting some passes, it made our running defense start to collapse.”
Mickey Joseph entered at quarterback for Nebraska for one series, but the Huskers went three downs and out. A clipping penalty against Washington while fair-catching the ensuing punt pushed UW back to its 13.
The Huskies couldn’t get a first down, forcing Hobert to punt into the wind. His 40-yarder was returned 11 yards to the NU 49 by Husker split end Corey Dixon.
With McCant back at quarterback, Nebraska scored in five plays.
McCant hit split end Jon Bostick for 9 yards and Brown ran for 3 and a first down. After McCant was sacked for a 4-yard loss and Brown was held to 1 yard, McCant went deep.
Bostick faked an inside break to the goal post, then faded his route toward the corner of the end zone. McCant floated it over cornerback Walter Bailey for a 42-yard touchdown. Bennett’s extra point put NU up 14-6 with 3:40 left in the half.
NU cornerback Tyrone Legette intercepted Hobert two plays later at the Husker 36. But UW’s Hall picked off a McCant bomb at the Husky 8 with 1:08 left.
Washington drove to the NU 31 to set up Hanson’s 49-yard field-goal try into the wind. His kick knuckled into the middle of the end zone.
Washington outgained Nebraska 269 yards to 199 in the first half.
|Yards per carry||7.1||3.8|
Nebraska is 5-4 all-time against Washington.
|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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