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Niles Paul’s kickoff return helps subdue Spartans
Nebraska’s offense did not put up big numbers, but defense and special teams made huge plays to propel the Cornhuskers to a 35-12 victory over San Jose State.
Playing in front of the NCAA record 291st consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium and a Fox Sports pay-per-view television audience, the Huskers improved to 2-0 on the season despite mustering just 315 yards against a stingy Spartan defense. SJSU slipped to 1-1 on the year.
San Jose State’s inspired defensive play kept their offense within striking distance into the fourth quarter, when Jared Strubeck kicked a 27-yard field goal with 12:17 left to pull within 14-12 of the Huskers.
But sophomore Niles Paul electrified the 84,145 fans that packed Memorial Stadium just seconds later, exploding down the Husker sideline for an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to put Nebraska on top 21-12.
The spectacular special teams sprint inspired an already focused Blackshirt defense on the next SJSU possession. On the Spartans’ first play, Zach Potter and Philip Dillard met each other on top of SJSU quarterback Kyle Reed for a sack. Reed left the game with a concussion, and reserve quarterback Myles Edens misfired on two pass attempts to force a punt. Philip Zavala then uncorked a short 27-yard punt to give NU possession at the SJSU 35.
Five plays later, Roy Helu Jr., put the Spartans away with a 14-yard touchdown run to give NU a 28-12 lead with 9:05 left in the game.