KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The center of the Nebraska defensive line kept Oklahoma State tailback Nathan Simmons out of the end zone on the final play of the game from 1 yard out to preserve a 24-17 victory over the Cowboys on Saturday night and keep the No. 2-ranked Huskers undefeated.
The Cowboys had arrived at the 1-yard line on quarterback Tony Lindsay's 11-yard pass to Sean Love on a fourth-and-five situation from the Nebraska 12-yard line with eight seconds left in the game.
After the chains were moved, Lindsay spiked the ball for an incompletion and stopped the clock with five seconds left.
On the final play and with no Oklahoma State timeouts remaining, Lindsay turned and handed off to Simmons, who didn't get back to the line of scrimmage as the clock ran out. Simmons had burned the Huskers for more than 100 rushing yards, many of them coming through the middle of the Nebraska defense. Simmons' run was the final play of an 11-play, 58-yard drive that began on the Oklahoma State 41-yard line with 1:45 left in the game.
Lindsay breathed life into the drive with a 26-yard pass to Love that put the ball on the Husker 27-yard line with 1:17 left.
Lindsay also extended the drive with a 4-yard scramble on a fourth-and-three situation from the Husker 20-yard with 26 seconds left.
After two incompletions and a 5-yard pass to Ethan Howell, Lindsay found Love with the 11-yard catch, but Nebraska held on for the victory.
Nebraska came out on top Saturday night against Oklahoma State because Joe Walker was able to pick himself up off the bottom.
Burned on a long touchdown pass that allowed the Cowboys to tie the game, Walker came back to electrify the Arrowhead Stadium crowd of 79,555 with a 73-yard punt return that gave second-ranked Nebraska a 24-17 Big 12 Conference victory over the stubborn Cowboys.
Walker's return, his second for a touchdown this season, allowed the Huskers to slip away with their fifth win of the season, their 40th straight in regular-season conference play and their 65th in the past 68 games. It didn't come easily as the 2-2 Cowboys dominated first-half play, then avoided a third-quarter knockout punch with a rally that produced a 17-17 tie with 12:08 to play.
Howell scored the tying touchdown when he beat Walker, the Huskers' roverback, on a 67-yard pass from Lindsay. Walker had made an unsuccessful attempt to tip the ball away from Howell at the Nebraska 40-yard line, and the Cowboys' wide receiver strolled into the end zone with the game-tying score.
Walker redeemed himself less than five minutes later when he fielded a Scott Elder punt at the Nebraska 27 yard line. The sophomore burst through the middle of the Cowboys' kick coverage, broke a tackle by Oklahoma State's Adam Edwards at midfield and turned on the jets, racing untouched the rest of the way for the score that left the Huskers on the verge of their 19th straight victory.
The defense then wrapped up the victory, holding the Cowboys on their final two possessions.
Oklahoma State's defense put on a dominating performance in the first half, holding Nebraska to 43 yards on 22 plays. The Huskers, averaging 5.3 yards per rushing play entering the game, produced a gain of more than 5 yards on just one first-half run — DeAngelo Evans' 9-yard gain on Nebraska's first play of the game — and finished with 4 yards rushing after the first 30 minutes.
The Cowboys also sacked Husker quarterback Bobby Newcombe twice, including a 12-yarder that threatened to take Nebraska out of scoring position late in the second quarter. The Huskers had taken control at the Oklahoma State 38-yard line with 3:42 left in the first half following Shevin Wiggins' 14-yard punt return.
Kenny Cheatham's diving catch on third down picked up 11 yards and produced a first down at the Cowboys' 27. After Joel Makovicka gained 1 yard, Oklahoma State's Alton Weaver and Cortney Mallory blew through the Huskers to drop Newcombe for a 12-yard loss.
Newcombe came back with a 7-yard completion to Matt Davison to set up Kris Brown's 48-yard field goal attempt. Brown, who had missed field goals in each of the past two games, connected this time to pull Nebraska into a 3-3 tie with 1:06 left in the half.
Oklahoma State had put Nebraska behind for the first time since the final play of regulation against Missouri last season when Tim Sydnes kicked a 37-yard field goal with 14:14 left in the second quarter. Sydnes' kick finished off a 13-play, 48-yard drive that ate more than six minutes off the clock.
The Cowboys used 12 straight rushing plays to move from their own 32 to the Nebraska 22 on the opening play of the second quarter.
Oklahoma State twice converted third-down attempts, getting 11 yards on a Simmons' draw play on third and nine from its 44 and 4 yards from Simmons on third and 4 from the Nebraska 39.
Simmons bolted 10 yards on the next play, but the Huskers stiffened to stall the drive at the Nebraska 20. Sydnes came on to kick his second field goal in five tries this season.
Nebraska, which had rolled up 527 yards against Washington in its last game, ran just eight offensive plays in the first quarter, gaining 7 yards. Oklahoma State, which controlled the football for 10-1/2 minutes of the opening quarter, ran 26 plays and picked up 90 yards.
The second half started on a poor note for the Huskers when Newcombe lost 4 yards on an option, dropping the Huskers' net rushing yardage to zero at that point. But Nebraska's next six plays produced 80 yards and the game's first touchdown.
Newcombe ignited the drive when he scrambled out of jam for a 20-yard gain to the 40. Evans picked up a first down three plays later with a 6-yard gain to the Cowoboys' 46-yard line.
On first down, Newcombe found tight end Sheldon Jackson wide open behind the Oklahoma State defense. Jackson had to break stride and wait for the pass, but the play produced a 40-yard gain to the Cowboys' 6.
Newcombe scored on the next play on a play that started with him rolling right. He put on the brakes, reversed his field, stepped inside a block by left guard James Sherman and outraced cornerback J.B. Flowers to the end zone. Brown's conversion kick gave Nebraska a 10-7 lead with 11:52 to play.
Jackson also figured in Nebraska's next scoring drive when he caught a 30-yard pass from Eric Crouch, who replaced Newcombe at the start of the possession. The play carried from the Oklahoma State 45-yard line to the 15, and the Huskers scored four plays later when Evans scooted into the end zone on a 2-yard run.
Evans' run capped the seven-play, 56-yard drive that was aided by a pair of face mask penalties against Oklahoma State. The first gave Nebraska a first and goal at the Cowboys' 6-yard line, and the second, on the next play, took the ball to the 1. Evans scored two plays later, and Brown's conversion made it 17-3 with 7:43 remaining.
Nebraska's defense, which had held Oklahoma State to a minus-3 yards on its first two second-half possessions, almost sealed the deal on the Cowboys' third. On a third-down-and-12 play from the Oklahoma State 30, Nebraska defensive tackle Jason Wiltz reached out and speared a Lindsay pass.
Wiltz then pitched the ball to linebacker Jay Foreman, who raced into the end zone. But the play was nullied on a roughing the passer penalty, and the Cowboys made the most of their second chance.
Two plays after the penalty, Lindsay hooked up with tight end Garrett Steggs on a screen play. Steggs, from Imperial, Neb., rambled 41 yards to the Nebraska 13 before being caught from behind by Foreman.
Jamaal Fobbs scored three plays later on a 3-yard run, and Sydnes' conversion kicked pulled Oklahoma State within 17-10 with 2:13 left in the third period. Five minutes later, the Cowboys had themselves a tie game when Howell scored on the long pass from Lindsay.
|Yards per carry||3.2||2.0|
Nebraska is 37-5 all-time against Oklahoma State.
|Louisiana Tech||Aug. 29|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 3|
|Texas A&M||Oct. 10|
|Iowa State||Nov. 7|
|Kansas State||Nov. 14|
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