COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Everything was stacked against Nebraska on Saturday night.
The Huskers had been brutal in road games since last November, and here they were, trailing by 17 points at Texas A&M's Kyle Field, one of the most intimidating venues in college football.
No, given the 2002 Huskers' form chart to date, this wasn't a game they should have won.
But they did, 38-31, thanks to big rushing performances by Jammal Lord and David Horne and stout defense in the fourth quarter.
With Texas coming to Lincoln this week, it was a timely victory-one that wasn't sealed until free safety Philip Bland intercepted a Dustin Long pass in the end zone with about 21/2 minutes to play.
"Whoo," Bland said. "This was a crazy one. Maybe if I was more eloquent, I could describe what this feeling is like. I'm almost dumbfounded. Down 31-14 at a place like Texas A&M, those aren't very good odds to come back."
The Huskers had seen the Aggies build their lead in an unconventional way. There was one touchdown off a punt block, a second off a freak fumble return and a third that was the result of a Nebraska fumble inside its own 10-yard line.
Then there was the injury situation. The Huskers lost starting right guard Wes Cody and rover Lannie Hopkins for the second half. Cody went out with a leg injury, and Hopkins was briefly knocked unconscious while covering a kickoff. Offensive tackle Richie Incognito also missed playing time in the second half with an undisclosed injury.
The Huskers already were without rush end Chris Kelsay, who missed his third straight game because of a torn hamstring.
"This was a game where our players refused to be taken out of the game," NU Coach Frank Solich said. "They stayed together, hung together."
I-back David Horne scored three of his four touchdowns in the second half as Nebraska posted its biggest comeback in Solich's five years as head coach. Prior to Saturday, the largest deficit overcome had been 10 points at Missouri in 1998.
The win before 81,054 on a misty, foggy night ended 6-3 Nebraska's four-game losing streak in true road games and evened its Big 12 record at 2-2.
Indeed, karma was on Nebraska's side on this night.
"From the very first drive, we felt a lot of energy," Lord said. "The offensive line was moving guys from the beginning."
Lord rushed for 159 yards on a career-high 30 carries and Horne added a career-high 128 yards on 24 attempts.
Before Saturday, it had been 20 regular-season games since the Aggies had allowed an opposing player to rush for 100 yards.
Nebraska finished with 381 yards rushing, the most against the Aggies in 32 years. The vaunted "Wrecking Crew" defense had ranked first in the Big 12 and fifth nationally against the run, giving up an average of 76.5 yards a game.
"They say you can't run the football against these guys," Solich said,"but we thought we needed to establish that. We needed to get something going on that end of it, and we felt we were going to have our chances. We needed to make them work. I think we would have been a little more productive if it hadn't been for the number of holding penalties, which was astronomical."
A&M (5-3, 2-2), which led 21-14 at half, built its lead to 31-14 on a field goal early in the third quarter and on Byron Jones' 66-yard fumble return. Terrence Kiel had stripped the ball from Lord, and it popped into Jones' hands.
Horne, who had scored on a 2-yard run in the second quarter, scored three straight times for the Huskers-on runs of 21, 11 and 6 yards-to erase the deficit.
After Josh Brown extended the Huskers' lead to 38-31 with a 42-yard field goal, Long drove the Aggies to the NU 9-yard line.
But under pressure, Long tried to throw the ball away out the back of the end zone. He threw short, though, and Bland was there to make the interception with 2:23 left.
"This was a remarkable game," Bland said. "We have more important road games. Hopefully this is just a beginning."
|Yards per carry||2.2||5.2|
Nebraska is 10-4 all-time against Texas A&M.
|Arizona State||Aug. 24|
|Troy (formerly Troy State)||Aug. 31|
|Utah State||Sept. 7|
|Penn State||Sept. 14|
|Iowa State||Sept. 28|
|McNeese State||Oct. 5|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 19|
|Texas A&M||Oct. 26|
|Kansas State||Nov. 16|
Nebraska has played 20 games on Oct. 26. See them all »
©2018 BH Media Group