Running Game Propels Nebraska to Second-Half Comeback at Texas A&M

Courtesy: Nebraska Athletics

College Station, Texas — Nebraska rallied from a 17-point second-half deficit for a 38-31 victory at Texas A&M, giving the Huskers their first road win of the season.

Texas A&M jumped to a 31-14 lead midway through the third quarter, but Nebraska did not stray from its gameplan. NU’s offense pounded the Aggie defense with a three-headed rushing attack and scored 24 points in the game’s final 22 minutes.

The evening started well for the Huskers, who took the opening kickoff and drove 80 yards in eight plays for a touchdown capped by a Dahrran Diedrick 12-yard TD run. However, a series of Nebraska miscues allowed Texas A&M to outscore the Huskers 31-7 from late in the first quarter to midway through the third period.

The Aggies evened the score at 7-7 late in the first quarter when Terrence Thomas returned a blocked punt 12 yards for a touchdown. On its next drive, Nebraska fumbled deep in its own territory and the Aggies needed just two plays to move six yards for a touchdown and a 14-7 advantage.

Nebraska’s offense continued to move successfully against the stout Texas A&M defense and tied the score at 14 midway through the second quarter on a two-yard David Horne touchdown run.

The Aggies took the lead into the locker room after a 12-play, 67-yard touchdown drive just before halftime. The A&M lead grew to 10 points on the opening drive of the second half, capped by a 33-yard Todd Pegram field goal. Nebraska appeared ready to cut into the lead on its next drive, but the Aggie defense stripped Jammal Lord of the football on a third-down run and Byron Jones returned the fumble 66 yards for a score and a 31-14 A&M advantage.

Nebraska relied on its power running game on the next drive. Dahrran Diedrick picked up 18 and 29 yards on the first two plays of the drive, and Horne followed with a 21-yard TD sprint down the sideline to cap the drive and cut the lead to 31-21.

The Husker defense forced A&M to punt on its next possession, and the NU offense then put together its gutsiest drive of the season. The Huskers converted two fourth downs on the drive, including one from their own 28, and marched 81 yards in 13 plays for a touchdown. Horne ran in from 11 yards out for his third touchdown to cap a balanced drive that included two Lord to Ross Pilkington pass plays covering 52 yards.

The Blackshirt defense kept the momentum squarely in NU’s corner, forcing A&M three-and-out on its next series. After a short Aggie punt, Nebraska moved 35 yards in six plays, all on the ground, for the go-ahead touchdown. Horne ran for 20 yards on the drive and put Nebraska ahead with a six-yard TD run, his fourth of the night.

Nebraska added a Josh Brown field goal after a Pat Ricketts interception to push its lead to 38-31 with six minutes remaining. The Aggies mounted one final threat, moving inside the NU 10 behind the passing of QB Dustin Long. However, Philip Bland made a diving interception in the end zone on first-and-goal from the NU 9, sealing the NU victory.


Game notes
  • Nebraska’s victory ended a five-game road losing streak and was its first-ever win in College Station. The Huskers took an 8-2 advantage in the all-time series between the schools and posted their fifth straight victory in the state of Texas.
  • The Huskers overcame a 31-14 deficit in the contest, marking their largest comeback in the Frank Solich era. NU’s previous largest comeback under Solich was a rally from a 13-3 deficit for a 20-13 win against Missouri in 1998 in Lincoln. The 17-point rally was NU’s largest since the Huskers fell behind 17-0 at Kansas in 1991, but rallied for a 59-23 rout of the Jayhawks. The previous time Nebraska trailed in the fourth quarter and won was a 34-32 victory over Colorado in 2000, when the Huskers hit a game-winning field goal on the game’s final play.
  • Nebraska gained 381 rushing yards in the contest, the most in 32 years against the Aggies. Texas A&M entered the game allowing just 76.9 yards per game on the ground, a mark that ranked first in the Big 12 and fifth nationally. Before Nebraska’s 381-yard effort, the previous rushing high against A&M was 129 yards by Virginia Tech.
  • Freshman I-back David Horne rushed for 128 yards and four touchdowns, the most ever vs. Texas A&M. After his second straight 100-yard outing, Horne has 422 rushing yards in four games and ranks seventh on the NU single-season frosh rushing list. Horne is the first Husker player to rush for four TDs since Eric Crouch accomplished the feat twice in 2001 (Kansas, Iowa State). He is the first Husker freshman to score four touchdowns since Calvin Jones’ school-record six rushing TDs at Kansas in 1991.
  • QB Jammal Lord posted his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season with 159 yards on an NU quarterback record 30 carries. Lord became the 52nd Husker to crack the 1,000-yard career rushing mark. He also passed for 116 yards in the game and became the 22nd Husker to pass for more than 1,000 yards in his career. Lord has 921 yards rushing and 859 yards passing this season.
  • Senior I-back Dahrran Diedrick ran 15 times for 85 yards, including 78 yards on nine carries in the second half. Diedrick’s 29-yard run in the third quarter was his longest of the season.
  • Split end Wilson Thomas caught four passes for 59 yards. He now has 61 career receptions, good for a tie for ninth place on the NU career chart.
  • Freshman split end Ross Pilkington had two receptions for 52 yards, marking the seventh straight game he has had at least one reception. Pilkington has 12 catches in 2002, tying the NU frosh record for receptions, previoulsy shared by Ahman Green (1995) and DeAngelo Evans (1996).
  • Linebacker Demorrio Williams posted a career-best nine tackles, including a 15- yard sack of Dustin Long in the fourth quarter. He also had a pass breakup.
  • Cornerback Pat Ricketts had a team-high 11 tackles and picked off his second pass of the season in the fourth quarter. He also added a pass breakup in the contest.
  • Safety Philip Bland nabbed his first career interception in the fourth quarter to seal the Husker victory. He also had nine tackles, the third time in four games he has had nine or more tackles.
  • Nebraska’s Blackshirt defense limited Texas A&M to a season-low 53 rushing yards and forced more than one turnover for the first time in five games.