DISASTROUS QUARTER DOOMS HUSKERS
TEMPE, Ariz. (Jan. 1, 1986) — Michigan took full advantage of every one of five key Nebraska errors in the third quarter to score 24 unanswered points and turn a 14-3 halftime deficit into a 27-23 win over the Cornhuskers in the Sunkist Fiesta Bowl.
Nebraska had taken the first half lead on a pair of second-quarter touchdowns by Doug DuBose — a 5-yard pass from McCathorn Clayton and a 3-yard run — but disaster struck soon and often after Michigan kicked off to start the second half.
On the Huskers' third offensive play, Wolverine linebacker Jeff Akers pounced on a DuBose fumble at the Husker 21. Four plays later, Gerald White went over the top from a yard out to cut the Nebraska lead to 14-10 just 2:03 into the third period.
Two plays after the ensuing kickoff, Clayton fumbled and tackle Mark Messner recovered for the Wolverines at the Husker 38. Five plays later, quarterback Jim Harbaugh scored on a 1-yard keeper to give Michigan the lead for good at 17-14 after just 4:17 of the second half.
The Husker offense managed a first down on its next possession, but stalled at its 35. Dan Wingard came in to punt, but his attempt was blocked by David Arnold, who recovered the loose ball at the Husker 6. Nebraska's Black Shirt defense held, but Pat Moons kicked a 19-yard field goal that upped Michigan's lead to 20-14 with 6:42 left in the third period.
Coach Bo Schembechler's team got the ball back later in the quarter and took advantage of two Husker pass interference penalties to drive 52 yards for what proved to be an insurmountable 27-14 lead.
"That was the most disastrous quarter I've ever seen," running backs coach Frank Solich said afterward. "I've never known of so many bad things happening to a team in such a short period of time. They (Michigan) got points off of every break."
Things looked even darker for the Huskers early in the fourth quarter when a Michigan punt pinned them at their own 3-yard line, but freshman quarterback Steve Taylor came off the Nebraska bench and almost pulled off a miracle. Taylor came in after Clayton had hit tight end Todd Frain with a third-down pass to get the Huskers out of the shadow of their own goal, and directed Nebraska 64 yards to the Michigan 19 before the drive died on downs with 8:08 left in the game.
The Husker defense got the ball right back, though, and, this time, Taylor led the offense 77 yards to score in 12 plays. He recorded the touchdown himself on a 1-yard run with 2:29 to go, cutting the deficit to 27-21.
A little over a minute later, Michigan conceded a safety when punter Monte Robbins ran out of the end zone. Trailing 27-23, Nebraska got the ball back at its own 46 with 1:14 to go, but with no time-outs left, Taylor could manage only a desperation attempt to pull off the win. His third-down pass was intercepted by Garland Rivers in the Wolverine end zone with 28 seconds left.
SOURCE: 1986 NU MEDIA GUIDE