TEMPE, Ariz. — In Saturday night’s Mistake Bowl, No. 16 Nebraska got just enough foul-ups fixed before No. 24 and 25 Arizona State did to pull out an 18-9 victory.
The second-largest crowd ever to see an ASU home game — 72,812, including about 10,000 Husker fans — saw the two teams combine for five lost fumbles, three interceptions, three blocked place-kicks, two missed field goals that hit the uprights and a high snap to thwart a field-goal try.
Toward the end, Nebraska took advantage of one of ASU’s eight turnovers to secure the win.
The Huskers, trying to hang on to an 11-9 lead early in the fourth quarter, got a chance to extend it when Husker outside linebacker David White jarred the ball loose from ASU quarterback Bret Powers. Tackle Kevin Ramaekers recovered at the Sun Devil 23.
A holding penalty knocked NU back, but quarterback Keithen McCant found I-back Derek Brown for 9 yards and split end Jon Bostick for a 10-yard touchdown and an 18-9 lead with 12:04 left to play.
On Arizona State’s next three possessions, Nebraska took the ball away to preserve the win.
Defensive tackle Jamie Liewer intercepted a pass and strong safety Steve Carmer recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass to help NU move to 3-1 and drop ASU to 2-1.
Nebraska’s victory broke a six-game losing string against rated opponents, dating back to 1988. It also snapped a five-game skid on grass fields since 1987.
Brown led all rushers with 135 yards on 25 carries. That made the sophomore from La Habra, Calif., the first Husker since Jarvis Redwine in 1980 to start the season with four straight 100-yard games.
Nebraska finished plus-six in turnovers by recovering five fumbles and intercepting two passes, while losing only one interception.
But Husker kicker Byron Bennett had two field goals blocked and an extra point blocked and missed field goals of 23 and 31 yards that hit uprights.
At the start of the third quarter, Nebraska looked ready to extend its 8-3 halftime lead when ASU’s Derrick Land fumbled away the second-half kickoff and outside linebacker David Leader recovered at the Sun Devil 32.
But on second-and-11 from the 20, Nebraska lost 15 yards and a down to an offensive interference penalty.
On third-and-26 from the 35, the Huskers appeared to have a first down on a completion from McCant to Bostick. But the officials ruled Bostick, hit as he caught the ball, wouldn’t have landed in bounds — a call NU Coach Tom Osborne protested vigorously.
Bennett tried a 52-yard field goal, but it was blocked — the third swatted NU place-kick of the night — and outside linebacker Shante Carver returned it 11 yards to the NU 43.
Two plays later, Powers hit fullback Kelvin Fisher with a 39-yard pass to the 1.
Tailback George Montgomery scored on the next play for a 9-8 ASU lead. Powers’ two-point conversion run was stopped with 11:35 left in the third quarter.
Nebraska responded with a 15-play drive to regain the lead.
The Huskers biggest gain was 11 yards on their way to the ASU 8. When the Sun Devils held there, Bennett kicked a 28-yard field goal to give Nebraska the lead back 11-9 with 6:18 left in the third quarter.
ASU looked like it might strike right back when Phillippi Sparks returned the ensuing kickoff 52 yards to the NU 48.
But the Huskers forced a fourth-and-one at the 39. After calling time, the Sun Devils decided to punt with 4:41 left in the third quarter.
They never threatened again.
To open the game, Arizona State tried to confuse Nebraska on the kickoff, first shifting nine players to one side of the kicker to indicate on onside kick and then shifting back.
But return man Nate Turner wasn’t confused. He took the line-drive kick at the 6, broke to the sideline and raced 42 yards to the ASU 48.
Seven running plays later, Nebraska was in the end zone.
Brown’s 34-yard burst moved the ball to the ASU 8. On third-and-goal from the 1, quarterback McCant sneaked.
On the extra point, Bennett’s kick was blocked. But NU tight end William Washington grabbed the loose ball inside the 5 and ran it in for two points and an 8-0 lead with 11:32 left in the first quarter.
Arizona State gained two first downs on its first possession. Then NU free safety Tyrone Byrd stripped the ball from tailback Jerome Davison and strong safety Carmer recovered at the Husker 49.
Nebraska gave the ball back three plays later when McCant’s pass glanced off the hands of wingback Vincent Hawkins and into the hands of ASU inside linebacker Brett Wallerstedt.
The Sun Devils moved from their 45 to the NU 20 and had second-and-two when they were socked with 20 yards in penalties on a dead ball.
The first 5 came on illegal procedure. Fifteen more were added when Fisher — as the play was being blown dead — swung at NU cornerback Kenny Wilhite.
The penalties forced Arizona State to line up for a 39-yard field goal. But the snap was high and Husker outside linebacker Travis Hill smothered holder Adam Brass for a 13-yard loss.
After Nebraska went three downs and out, Arizona State started moving the ball again. But near the end of a 20-yard pass from Powers to Fisher, Byrd forced another fumble that NU cornerback Curtis Cotton recovered at the ASU 48.
McCant gained 21 yards on an option on the first play and eventually led Nebraska to first-and-goal at the 4. On second-and-goal at the 2, ASU free safety Kendall Rhyne dropped McCant for a 6-yard loss. An illegal procedure penalty moved NU back to the 13.
After an incomplete pass, Bennett tried a 30-yard field goal that ASU blocked by roaring up the middle. Nose tackle Pat Mason batted it back to the ASU 38.
In four plays, Arizona State moved to the NU 20 as Powers completed passes of 18 and 12 yards. The sophomore hit 8 of his first 9 passes for 100 yards.
But Powers misfired on his next two passes, leading to Mike Richey’s 37-yard field goal that pulled ASU within 8-3 with 8:52 left in the second quarter.
|Yards per carry||2.0||4.1|
Nebraska is 6-2 all-time against Arizona State.
|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|
Nebraska has played 14 games on Sept. 28. See them all »
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