Nebraska’s woes against Top 10 foes continue.
Second-ranked Washington scored two touchdowns in the final 1:29 of the first half, then hung on to stymie the No. 11 and 12 Huskers 29-14 Saturday night in front of 73,333 fans at Husky Stadium — the largest UW crowd ever for a non-conference game and the sixth-largest overall.
The loss was NU’s eighth straight to a Top 10 opponent dating back to 1988 and the 10th straight to a Top 5 opponent going back to 1987.
Nebraska got a 73-yard touchdown run from I-back Calvin Jones to close to 9-7 in the second quarter.
Then I-back Derek Brown accounted for 74 yards of an 80-yard touchdown drive to start the second half. That got NU back to 23-14 with 9:52 left in the third quarter.
The NU defense made three valiant stands in the second half.
But the offense, after its TD drive, finished its next six drives fumble, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt.
Not even a new formation — the shotgun — nor two trick plays — a fake punt and a flea flicker pass — could jolt the offense to life.
UW only outgained Nebraska 335 yards to 309. Last year, the Huskies gained 618 yards on NU in a 36-21 win.
Mistakes cost Nebraska all night.
The Huskers’ three turnovers before an interception on the game’s final play all led to Washington scores. They were nailed for three illegal procedure penalties and one delay penalty. And they used five of their six timeouts to avoid other penalties caused by confusion.
Poor field position also limited the NU offense. The Huskers started all 16 of their possessions in their own territory — at the 32, 32, 3, 20, 22, 20, 20, 20, 20, 13, 20, 14, 14, 34, 20 and 14.
Washington got its first points on a safety when the Huskers started at their own 3.
In the third quarter, Nebraska momentarily wiped away the bad taste left from the two late first-half touchdowns.
The Huskers bounced out of the locker room, took the kickoff and drove 80 yards to score.
Brown’s back-to-back runs of 32 and 12 yards got NU to the UW 32.
Brown also showed he could catch the ball. Quarterback Mike Grant hit him with a 13-yard pass. Then out of a new formation — the shotgun — Grant hit Brown on a screen for 15 yards on third-and-13 at the UW 19.
Two plays later, Grant sneaked in from the 1 to cut the deficit to nine at 23-14 with 9:52 to go in the third quarter.
Two big mistakes hurt Nebraska after a Washington punt.
On the return, wingback Tyrone Hughes changed direction twice to scamper 33 yards to near midfield. But a holding penalty pinned the Huskers back at their 13.
After Brown ran for 14 yards, Grant pitched the ball behind Brown on an option and Washington defensive tackle D’Marco Farr recovered at the NU 20.
But the Husker defense didn’t bend.
Tackle John Parrella’s 4-yard sack and outside linebacker Travis Hill’s tackle for a 3-yard loss forced Washington to try a field goal. Travis Hanson drilled it from 42 yards to put UW ahead 26-14 with 5:43 left in the third quarter.
Parrella stopped another Washington threat two minutes later by recovering fullback Matt Jones’ fumble after UW’s other fullback, Darius Turner, had run for 44 yards to the NU 16.
Early in the fourth quarter, Washington added another field goal.
Quarterback Billy Joe Hobert’s 31-yard pass to split end Eric Bjornson and a pass interference penalty on NU moved the ball to the 1. But a personal foul on Washington stopped the drive, so Hanson kicked a 32-yard field goal for a 29-14 lead with 13:17 left in the game.
That ended the scoring.
To start the game, the teams exchanged punts. Then Washington made the first move into opposing territory.
Hobert found Bjornson for 24 yards to the NU 42. But the Huskers held on third-and-one at the 33, then got penetration from Hill and inside linebacker Darren Williams to stop Turner for no gain and halt the drive.
On the next series, Nebraska used a 7-yard run from Brown and a 4-yarder from Grant for its initial first down. The next three plays gained 6 yards to the NU 49, so Mike Stigge dropped back to punt.
The former high school quarterback faked the punt, sidestepped one rusher and broke to the right with what at first looked like ample running room.
But UW All-America cornerback Walter Bailey ran Stigge down from behind for a 3-yard loss, giving the Huskies the ball at the NU 44.
The Husker defenders didn’t back off.
Instead, they backed UW up 8 yards with the help of a procedure penalty and middle guard Terry Connealy’s 7-yard sack.
On the punt, Husky kicker John Werdel’s wobbler turned into a 48-yard roller that was downed at the NU 3.
The loss of field position proved costly because the next four times to the line of scrimmage, Nebraska went backward.
An illegal procedure penalty cost the Huskers a yard to the 2. A delay penalty sent them back another yard. Fullback Lance Lewis then lost half a yard, barely avoiding a safety.
But Grant couldn’t get away on the next play. UW strong safety Tommie Smith blindsided Grant 8 yards deep in the end zone on a blitz for a safety and a 2-0 Husky lead with 3:14 left in the first quarter.
A Nebraska turnover on its next possession led to Washington’s first touchdown.
As Grant was sacked at his own 45, the ball slipped loose. Though some players reacted as if the ball had been ruled dead, Husky inside linebacker James Clifford hopped on it and the officials ruled it a fumble.
Seven plays later, Washington led 9-0.
Hobert hit flanker Joe Kralik for 16 yards and tight end Mark Bruener for 18 yards. That set up tailback Beno Bryant’s 1-yard touchdown run with 12:14 left in the half.
Nebraska unveiled the shotgun for the first time on the next series. On third-and-eight from the NU 25, Grant took the deep snap and threw incomplete to tight end William Washington.
After the teams swapped punts, Jones got Nebraska back in the game.
On third-and-three from the NU 27, Grant optioned right and pitched quickly to Jones to avoid a blitzer.
The sophomore out of Omaha Central exploded into the clear, sailed past Lewis’ block near midfield, then settled in behind a block from split end Trumane Bell.
When Bell ran Bailey into the sideline at the 30, Jones cut inside to complete the 73-yard TD dash. Before that play, NU’s total offense was 51 yards in 21 plays.
Byron Bennett’s extra point got Nebraska back to 9-7 with 7:23 left in the half.
But Washington countered with an 80-yard touchdown drive behind quarterback Mark Brunell.
The backup, who came in when Hobert left with a pinched nerve, twice completed passes on third down to keep the drive alive.
Then tailback Napoleon Kaufman did the rest. The sophomore zipped 35 yards on an option left, with cornerback Kenny Wilhite saving a touchdown with a tackle at the 1.
Two plays later, Kaufman scored untouched for a 16-7 UW lead with 1:29 left in the half.
On the next play, Nebraska gave the ball back.
Grant, scrambling for time, fired a deep sideline pass toward Bell. But Bailey swiped it at the Husker 47.
Hobert returned at quarterback and hit the fullback Jones for 8 yards. A holding penalty on Nebraska moved the ball to the 29.
Hobert then arched a pass into the back of the end zone for Kralik. Though the receiver skidded under the goal post and bobbled the ball, the officials ruled a touchdown.
That score, with 47 seconds left in the half, put Washington up 23-7.
|Yards per carry||3.2||4.4|
Nebraska is 5-4 all-time against Washington.
|Middle Tennessee State||Sept. 12|
|Arizona State||Sept. 26|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 10|
|Iowa State||Nov. 14|
|Kansas State||Dec. 5|
|Florida State||Jan. 1|
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