Cornhuskers too much for Jacks
LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska scored 38 consecutive points between the second and third quarters en route to a 59-20 victory over South Dakota State before a crowd of 90,614 Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
The Cornhuskers improved to 3-1, while South Dakota State, ranked sixth in the Football Championship Subdivision, fell to 3-1. Saturday’s contest was the final non-conference game for both teams.
Both teams moved the ball up and down the field in the first quarter, combining for 31 points and 344 yards of total offense. Nebraska wasted little time to break into the scoring column, marching 66 yards on four plays as Imani Cross scored on a 5-yard run.
SDSU came right back to tie the game on its opening possession as Zach Zenner went straight up the middle for a 40-yard touchdown run.
A 2-yard touchdown run by Cross gave the Cornhuskers the lead back on their next possession, but SDSU responded with a five-play, 71-yard scoring drive capped by Zenner’s second touchdown of the day, a 3-yard run. Zenner finished the first quarter with 123 yards on 10 carries.
After forcing a fumble near midfield, the Jackrabbits took their only lead of the game late in the first quarter. An offensive pass interference penalty nullified a touchdown on first-and-goal from the 4, backing the Jackrabbits to their own 19. A pair of sacks pushed SDSU farther back before Justin Syrovatka tied a career-best with a 48-yard field goal, which also extended his school-record streak of consecutive field goals to 15 and gave the Jackrabbits a 17-14 lead.
The second quarter belonged to Nebraska, which outscored the Jackrabbits 24-0. Ameer Abdullah gave the Cornhuskers the lead with a 1-yard touchdown run at the 12:30 mark. Each of Nebraska’s quarterbacks threw a touchdown pass later in the quarter – Tommy Armstrong Jr. found Sam Burtch for a 16-yard touchdown and Ron Kellogg III connected with Tyler Wullenwaber from 23 yards out.
A 22-yard field goal by Mauro Bondi on the final play of the half made the score 38-17 at intermission.
The Nebraska onslaught continued in the third quarter. Terrell Newby scored on a 10-yard run before Randy Gregory stepped in front of an Austin Sumner pass for a 33-yard interception return for touchdown.
After seeing his field goal streak end in the third quarter on a missed 33-yard attempt, Syrovatka ended the Nebraska scoring streak with a 29-yarder.
Newby capped the scoring with a 5-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
The two squads combined for 1,110 yards of total offense – 645 by Nebraska and 465 for the Jackrabbits. Each team’s total was nearly evenly split between passing and rushing – Nebraska gained 335 on the ground and 310 through the air, while SDSU tallied 238 passing and 227 running.
Abdullah paced the Nebraska offense with 139 yards rushing on 15 carries. Armstrong was 12-of-15 passing for 169 yards, while Kellogg went 8-for-9 for 136 yards. Quincy Enunwa led Cornhusker receivers with six catches for 78 yards.
Zenner, who did not play in the fourth quarter, ended the game with 202 yards on 20 carries for the Jackrabbits. Sumner completed 19-of-29 passes for 238 yards, with Cam Jones leading the receiving corps with six catches for 68 yards.
Corey Cooper and Zaire Anderson each made 10 tackles for Nebraska. The Cornhusker defense recorded five sacks, compared to none by SDSU.
The Jackrabbits return home to open Missouri Valley Football Conference play Sept. 28 against top-ranked North Dakota State. Nebraska opens Big Ten Conference play Oct. 5 against Illinois.
NOTES: Nebraska leads the all-time series, 3-0 … the first meeting in the series, a 58-7 Cornhusker victory was played exactly 50 years ago to the day … SDSU dropped to 1-20 all-time against current Big Ten Conference members … Zenner topped the 100-yard for the 13th time and the 200-yard plateau for the fifth time in his career … Zenner has 11 touchdowns this season (10 rushing, one receiving) and has scored at least two TDs in every game this season … Syrovatka’s streak of 15 consecutive made field goals began Oct. 11, 2012, versus Western Illinois … Syrovatka moved in to fourth place in career field goals at SDSU with 28, passing current NFL standout Adam Vinatieri (27 field goals from 1991-94) … Nebraska was forced to punt only once, with the punt coming in the fourth quarter … SDSU has scored in 13 of 16 quarters this season … the Jackrabbits committed their first offensive turnovers of the season and are plus-10 for the season