Huskers break losing streak vs. ranked teams
Nebraska’s Blackshirt defensive unit came up with five fumble recoveries, two interceptions and four quarterback sacks, but the 16th-rated (AP) Cornhuskers needed all of that to rally for an 18-9 win over No. 24 Arizona State.
The win ended Nebraska’s string of six consecutive losses to ranked teams.
The struggling Husker offense managed to turn just two of those opportunities into scores and managed just 316 total offense yards, despite 135 rushing yards by sophomore I-back Derek Brown.
Two turnovers deep in ASU territory two minutes apart in the fourth quarter resulted in field-goal attempts hitting the goal posts, first the right upright, then the left. Another two field-goal attempts were blocked by Sun Devil players.
An extra point attempt following the Huskers’ first touchdown was also blocked by ASU, but NU tight end William Washington recovered the ball and scored a 2-point conversion for an 8-0 Nebraska lead early in the first quarter.
Arizona State pulled within 8-3 on Mike Richey’s 37-yard field goal midway in the second period, then took advantage of one of its blocked kicks to take the lead in the third quarter. The Sun Devils’ Arthur Paul blocked Byron Bennett’s 53-yard attempt and Shante Carver returned the ball 11 yards to the Nebraska 43. On the second play, quarterback Bret Powers hit fullback Kelvin Fisher with a 39-yard pass to the 1, and tailback George Montgomery scored on the next play for a 9-8 lead with 11:35 left in the half.
After tackle John Parrella stopped Powers at the 1 on a 2-point conversion attempt, Nebraska drove 61 yards to the Sun Devil 11, where Bennett connected on a 28-yard field goal, and the Huskers regained the lead for good, 11-9 with 5:17 to go in the third quarter.
The Blackshirts then stopped Arizona State without a first down on its next five possessions, forcing two punts followed by three turnovers on consecutive snaps. The first turnover, when tackle Kevin Ramaekers recovered a Powers fumble at the ASU 23 early in the fourth quarter, set up the touchdown that iced the game.
Quarterback Keithen McCant ran for 12 yards and a first down at the 11, then Brown picked up 6 more. A holding penalty moved the ball back to the 19, but McCant connected on back-to-back passes, hitting Brown for 9 yards to the 10, and split end Jon Bostick for the TD with 12:04 left.
Bennett hit the uprights after ASU turned over at its 12- and 11-yard lines on its next two possessions, then, after the Devils had driven the NU 35 in the final six minutes, strong safety Steve Carmer intercepted Powers at the 29 and the Huskers managed to run out the final 5:23.
Quote of the game: “It looked a little like Chicago Bear football, but we played well defensively. We were really concerned about defense after last week, and we really showed some ability on defense this week,” said head coach Tom Osborne.