26-Game Home Win Streak Ends with Heartbreaker vs. No. 7 Texas

Courtesy: Nebraska Athletics

Lincoln, Neb. — Nebraska’s hopes for a second consecutive fourth-quarter rally fell just short Saturday at Memorial Stadium and seventh-ranked Texas escaped Lincoln with a 27-24 victory.

The loss ended Nebraska’s nation-leading home winning streak at 26 games and dropped the Huskers to 6-4 overall and 2-3 in Big 12 Conference play.

After Texas opened a 27-17 advantage with 3:24 remaining, the Huskers quickly drove 60 yards in four plays and scored on a Dahrran Diedrick two-yard run to slice the lead to three points.

DeJuan Groce
DeJuan Groce’s 44-yard punt return in the fourth quarter. | Courtesy: Scott Bruhn/NU Athletic Communications
DeJuan Groce
DeJuan Groce’s 44-yard punt return in the fourth quarter. | Courtesy: Scott Bruhn/NU Athletic Communications

The Blackshirt defense forced Texas to punt, and All-America candidate DeJuan Groce again showed why he is the nation’s best punt returner with an electrifying 44-yard return down the Nebraska sideline to the Texas 16-yard line.

The Huskers did not pick up any yardage on their first two plays and on third down, Texas cornerback Nathan Vasher made a leaping interception of a Jammal Lord pass to end Nebraska’s comeback hopes.

The dramatic finish capped one of the most memorable games in Memorial Stadium’s 80-year history. The first half was highlighted by missed scoring opportunities by both teams.

Josh Brown opened the scoring with a 48-yard field goal on Nebraska’s first offensive possession. Nebraska moved inside the Longhorn 32-yard line four other times in the first half, but was unable to muster any points on those possessions. Nebraska was twice stopped on fourth-and-one plays and also had a field goal blocked and a bad snap on another field goal try.

Texas moved inside the Nebraska 35-yard line four times in the first half and converted those possessions into a pair of field goals. The Longhorns were forced to settle for a field goal after driving to the NU 7 and also had a missed field goal in the first half.

Both offenses got untracked in the second half. Nebraska took the opening kickoff of the half and drove 79 yards in seven plays capped by a two-yard TD pass from Lord to tight end Jon Bowling to give NU a 10-6 lead. Lord rushed for 71 yards on two carries on the drive, including a 54-yard scamper.

Texas quickly responded, driving 79 yards in five plays behind the passing of Chris Simms, who completed all three of his pass attempts on the drive, including a 49-yarder to fullback Ivan Williams and a 16-yard TD pass to wideout Roy Williams.

Nebraska was forced to punt, and Texas put together an impressive drive to extend its lead to 10 points. The ’Horns took over on their own 3-yard line and drove 97 yards in 17 plays, taking 7:45 off the clock in the process. Simms completed seven of eight passes on the drive and again connected with Roy Williams on a TD pass, this time from two yards out.

The Huskers bounced back on their next possession with an 80-yard, four-play scoring drive. Lord connected with freshman tight end Matt Herian for a 60-yard scoring strike to cut the UT lead to three points.

Texas again forged a 10-point lead late in the fourth quarter with a 10-play, 81-yard drive capped by Cedric Benson’s three-yard TD run. The touchdown gave the Longhorns a 27-17 advantage and set the stage for the game-ending excitement.

The contest featured record-setting nights by both quarterbacks. Lord’s 234 rushing yards were a Nebraska quarterback record, and he passed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season. UT’s Simms passed for a school-record 419 yards, and Roy Williams caught a school-best 13 passes.


Game notes

  • The Texas victory ended Nebraska’s 26-game home winning streak. The Huskers’ previous home loss was on Oct. 31, 1998, a 20-16 setback against the Longhorns. Nebraska has won 73 of its past 75 home games with Texas the only team to find success at Memorial Stadium.
  • Jammal Lord rushed for a Nebraska quarterback record 234 yards in the game, breaking his own record of 218 yards set earlier this season against McNeese State. The game marked the fifth time this season Lord has topped 100 yards rushing and the seventh time in 2002 he has led Nebraska in rushing. In Saturday night’s game Lord became the 26th Husker to rush for 1,000 yards in a season and also broke the NU season record for quarterback rushing yards. Lord now has 1,155 rushing yards this season, bettering Eric Crouch’s 1,115 yards last season. Lord’s 332 yards of total offense were the third-most in school history. He now has 2,112 yards of total offense this season, the most ever in a junior season by a Husker and the seventh-best total in school history. Lord also threw two TD passes, the second time this season he has had two scoring strikes.
  • Nebraska picked up 320 rushing yards against the Texas defense, which entered the game ranked third nationally in total defense. It marked the fifth straight game NU has rushed for 259 yards or more.
  • Freshman tight end Matt Herian has three catches this season, all of 33 yards or longer, including a 60-yard TD reception vs. the Longhorns.
  • Split end Ross Pilkington extended his streak of games with at least one reception to eight. His nine-yard reception in the second quarter was his 13th of the season, breaking the NU frosh receptions record.
  • Tight end Jon Bowling had a two-yard TD reception to give NU a 10-6 lead in the third quarter. It was Bowling’s first TD of the season and the third of his Husker career.
  • Place-kicker Josh Brown connected on a regular season career-long 48-yard field goal in the first quarter. Brown has now made six field goals of 40 yards or longer in 2002.
  • Senior cornerback DeJuan Groce led Nebraska with a career-high 15 tackles, tying the most by a Husker this season. Groce also had a 44-yard punt return to give Nebraska a chance for victory late in the game. Groce continues to lead the nation in punt returns at 21.0 yards per attempt. Groce now has 525 punt return yards this season and 1,011 in his career. loss and a nine-yard sack of Texas QB Chris Simms.
  • Redshirt freshman free safety Josh Bullocks recorded his first career interception in the second quarter. He also had a pass breakup and contributed five tackles.
  • The Husker defense limited Texas to just 79 yards rushing and has allowed a combined 132 yards on the ground the past two weeks (66.0 ypg).
  • Chris Simms’ 419 passing yards is the most by a Husker opponent this season and the fifth 400- yard passing effort against Nebraska in school history (fourth regular season).