Huskers Fall at Penn State in First Road Test of 2002

Courtesy: NU Media Relations

State College, Pa. — Nebraska dropped to 3-1 on the season with a 40-7 loss at Penn State before a crowd of 110,753, the largest ever to witness a Nebraska football game.

The Huskers’ loss was their first in a nonconference regular-season game since 1996 and dropped NU out of the Associated Press top 10 for the first time since the 1998 season.

After a scoreless first quarter, Penn State got on the scoreboard early in the second quarter on a seven-yard touchdown run by Larry Johnson. The score capped an eight-play, 80-yard drive by the Nittany Lions.

The Husker offense quickly responded. Quarterback Jammal Lord led Nebraska 84 yards in eight plays with Judd Davies finishing the drive with a two-yard TD run to tie the game at 7- 7. On the drive, Lord rushed twice for 32 yards and connected on 3 of 3 passes for 41 yards.

The Penn State offense mounted two more long drives in the second quarter, but the Husker defense stiffened on both occasions, forcing the Lions to field goals. Robbie Gould was successful on both attempts in the second quarter, giving PSU a 13-7 halftime advantage.

Penn State picked up where it left off after intermission, taking the opening kickoff of the second half and driving 80 yards in 16 plays. The Nittany Lions’ two-point conversion failed, but PSU led 19-7, after using up nearly half of the third quarter on the scoring drive.

The Penn State defense then got into the act on Nebraska’s next possession. Rich Gardner intercepted a Lord pass and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown, putting Penn State ahead 26-7. Nebraska was forced to punt after three plays on its next drive and Penn State took just three plays to move 55 yards for another touchdown.

The Lions capped the scoring midway through the fourth quarter with a 54-yard march in eight plays, accounting for the 40-7 final margin.

The Nittany Lions dominated statistically as well as on the scoreboard. Penn State gained 476 yards of total offense, picking up 217 on the ground and 259 behind the passing of Zack Mills, who hit on 19 of 31 attempts.

Nebraska gained 328 yards of total offense, including 252 on the ground, led by Lord’s 111 yards on 14 carries. However, three interceptions foiled any Husker comeback hopes.


Game notes
  • The crowd of 110,753 was easily the largest ever to see Nebraska play. The previous record was 93,781 at the 2002 Rose Bowl against Miami and the old regular-season mark was 85,304 also at PSU’s Beaver Stadium in 1982.
  • Junior punter Kyle Larson continued his strong start to the 2002 season. Larson boomed six punts an average of 46.8 yards in the game and pinned the Nittany Lions inside their own 20 on two occasions.
  • Senior rush end Chris Kelsay recorded three tackles, including a sack and tied his career-high with four quarterback hurries. It marked the second straight game Kelsay has had four quarterback hurries and the third time in four games this season he has had at least one sack.
  • Quarterback Jammal Lord rushed for a career-high 111 yards on 14 carries, including a 27-yard gain in the second quarter. It marked Lord’s second 100-yard game of the season, joining a 103-yard effort against Arizona State.
  • I-back Dahrran Diedrick rushed for 71 yards on 16 carries, moving him into the top 20 on the NU career rushing list. Diedrick now has 2,120 career yards to rank 20th on the NU chart.
  • Freshman split end Ross Pilkington had a 16-yard reception, the longest of his Husker career. He finished the night with two catches for 29 yards and also had an 11-yard run on NU’s first series, his longest rush as a Husker.
  • Senior tight end Aaron Golliday had a 16-yard reception on NU’s second-quarter scoring drive, his first catch since a four-yard grab against TCU in the 2001 season opener.
  • The 33-point defeat was Nebraska’s worst loss since a 45-10 setback at Oklahoma in 1990.
  • Nebraska’s loss ended a streak of 22 straight victories in the regular season against non-conference opponents, dating back to a 19-0 loss at Arizona State in 1996. The Huskers’ loss was also their first in the months of August or September since that loss at ASU.
  • The loss was Nebraska’s first against an unranked Associated Press opponent since a 20-16 loss to Texas on Oct. 31, 1998. The Huskers had won 27 straight contests against unranked AP foes since that contest. The Nittany Lions were ranked 25th in the coaches poll entering the game.
  • Nine of Nebraska’s 10 losses under Coach Frank Solich have come against teams ranked in the top 25 of one of the two polls.
  • The loss ended Nebraska’s streak of eight consecutive victories against Big Ten opponents. The Huskers’ previous loss to a Big Ten foe was a 27-23 setback against Michigan in the 1986 Fiesta Bowl. NU had won 11 straight regular-season games against the Big Ten since a 27-24 loss at Penn State in 1982.
  • Jammal Lord threw three interceptions, the first time an NU opponent has picked off three passes since Oklahoma in 1990.