Huskers provide another thriller

Lincoln -Nebraska nearly made history by coming back from a 21-point first-half deficit, but Texas Tech quarterback Cody Hodges found Joel Filani on a 10-yard touchdown pass on 4th-and-1 with 12 seconds left to allow the No. 15 Red Raiders to escape from Memorial Stadium with a 34-31 win over the Huskers.

Filani's touchdown catch, his third of the day, came on fourth down as the Red Raiders managed to convert a pair of fourth-down plays inside Nebraska's 20-yard line. Texas Tech also overcame an interception by Nebraska senior defensive tackle Le Kevin Smith that had been tipped in the air by sophomore linebacker Corey McKeon, which appeared to end the Red Raiders' hopes of victory.

But Texas Tech offensive lineman Bryan Kegans hit Smith during the interception return and forced a fumble that was recovered by Red Raider wide receiver Danny Amendola at the NU 19. The turnover was Nebraska's fifth of the game, while the Blackshirts forced a pair of turnovers by Texas Tech. 

Nebraska slipped to 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the Big 12 despite the nearly miraculous comeback. Texas Tech improved to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the Big 12 with their first-ever victory in Lincoln. Playing in front of the NCAA-record 273rd consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium and a TBS national television audience, the Huskers saw their 36-game Homecoming winning streak come to an end, in NU's third straight game that was decided in the final seconds.

Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor and the Huskers withstood a quick start by Hodges and Texas Tech, which entered the game as the nation's top-ranked passing offense. Taylor led Nebraska to a fourth-quarter lead with just over 10 minutes left on wide receiver Terrence Nunn's magnificent catch in the corner of the end zone to give NU a 28-27 advantage.

After Nunn's catch, his second touchdown grab of the day and his Nebraska career, the Blackshirts shut down Hodges and the Red Raiders.

Taylor led the Huskers on their final scoring drive, marching to the Texas Tech 10-yard line to set up Jordan Congdon's 27-yard field goal to give NU a 31-27 lead with 5:10 left.

Taylor completed 21-of-35 passes for 229 yards with two touchdowns on the day, but Hodges finished the day with 368 yards and four touchdown passes, while completing 34-of-45 passes.

While the offense provided the spark for Nebraska's nearly miraculous comeback, it was the defense that put the Huskers in position to win the game by slowing Hodges and the Texas Tech passing attack until the Red Raiders' decisive scoring drive in the fourth quarter.

After freshman place-kicker Jordan Congdon kicked a field goal to push NU's lead to 31-27, Amendola returned NU's kickoff 30 yards, and Hodges hit Filani on a 31-yard pass to quickly put the Red Raiders inside NU territory. From there, the Blackshirts forced a pair of fourth downs and forced a turnover, but were still unable to prevent Hodges from finally finding Filani in the end zone.

The Huskers trailed by 21 points early in the second quarter before producing a major rally against the Red Raiders. Trailing 21-0 with 9:25 left in the first half, Taylor marched the Huskers 80 yards in 13 plays in just over four minutes. Nebraska's first scoring drive of the day was capped by freshman I-back Cody Glenn's first career touchdown from five yards out.

On the ensuing kickoff, Husker special teams stalwart Brandon Rigoni provided a big hit on the Texas Tech return to pin the Red Raiders inside their own 20. The Blackshirts then produced their first defensive stop of the day with a quick three-and-out.

After Blake Tiedtke nearly blocked Alex Reyes' punt, Husker return man Cortney Grixby fielded a short kick and raced ahead 20 yards. At the end of the return, a Texas Tech personal foul tacked on another 15 yards, putting Taylor and the Huskers first-and-10 at the NU 29.

Six plays later Glenn scored his second touchdown of the day on a one-yard plunge to trim Texas Tech's lead to 21-14 with 52 seconds left in the first half.

The Red Raiders temporarily stalled Nebraska's momentum by forcing a fumble by Taylor on the Huskers' opening drive of the second half. But the Blackshirts minimized the damage with Husker defensive end Adam Carriker sacking Hodges for a 13-yard loss to stop Tech's drive and force a 37-yard field goal by Alex Trlica.

However, on Nebraska's next drive Taylor threw his second interception of the day, which Texas Tech's Sylvester Brinkley returned to NU's 11. The Blackshirts stepped up to the challenge again as Tiedtke's four-yard sack of Hodges stopped the Red Raiders at the 9, to force Trlica's 26-yard field goal to give Texas Tech a 27-14 lead.

But the Husker offense responded in a big way, marching 68 yards in 11 plays to trim the Red Raider lead to 27-21 with 1:51 left in the third quarter. On the drive, Taylor complete all seven of his pass attempts for 59 yards. The drive was capped by Taylor's 15-yard strike to Terrence Nunn for the first touchdown reception of Nunn's career.

After the Blackshirts held on Texas Tech's next drive, the Huskers began marching. After picking up a quick first down, Taylor hit Mark LeFlore on a slant to pick up a first down. But LeFlore was hit hard by free safety Dwayne Slay and Fletcher Session recovered a fumble at the NU 44.

The Blackshirts provided their biggest play of the day on the Red Raiders' ensuing drive, as defensive end Jay Moore hit Hodges behind the line of scrimmage to force a fumble that was scooped up by linebacker Bo Ruud, who rumbled 46 yards to the Texas Tech 14. The fumble return set up Nebraska's go-ahead score on the pass from Taylor to Nunn early in the fourth quarter.

Texas Tech's high-powered offense lived up to its billing in the first half by scoring touchdowns on three of its first four drives of the game.

Hodges threw three touchdown passes in the first 21 minutes of the game, including a pair of scoring strikes to Filani and one scoring connection with running back Taurean Henderson. Filani finished the day with 11 receptions for 163 yards and three touchdowns, while Henderson added six catches for 51 yards and a score.

Texas Tech drove 85 yards in eight plays to score the initial first-quarter points of the season against the Blackshirts on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Hodges to Henderson with 11:47 left in the opening quarter.

The Huskers hit the road for the first time this season when they continue Big 12 Conference play at Baylor on Saturday, Oct. 15. Kickoff against the Bears, who improved to 4-1 on the season with a 23-13 win at Iowa State on Saturday afternoon, is set for 6 p.m.  The game at Waco, Texas, is not scheduled to be televised.

GAME STATS

Big Red Report Top Stories