Huskers rumble past Rutgers, 28-21, Friday night
Nebraska rolled up 620 yards of total offense and put together its strongest second half of the season to secure a 28-21 Big Ten Conference road win over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Friday night.
Adrian Martinez, Dedrick Mills and Wan'Dale Robinson all had big nights for the Big Red, as the Huskers notched their third victory of the season. Martinez racked up more than 400 yards of total offense by completing 24-of-28 passes for 255 yards with one touchdown. He added 23 carries for 157 yards and two rushing touchdowns, including the game-winner on a one-yard plunge with 9:55 left in the game.
Mills was even bigger on the ground for the Huskers, carrying 28 times for 191 yards, to help Nebraska amass 365 rushing yards. Mills added six receptions for 45 yards to total 236 all-purpose yards.
Robinson joined Martinez by scoring a pair of Husker touchdowns, including a tough 14-yard catch in traffic with 43 seconds left in the third quarter to tie the game at 21. Robinson, who scored Nebraska's first touchdown on a one-yard pitch to the outside in the second quarter, finished with six receptions for 79 yards while adding seven carries for 24 yards on the ground.
Nebraska's big totals on offense came despite turning the ball over four times, including a pair of fumbles and an interception by Martinez in the first half. Rutgers was able to turn the Husker turnovers into a 14-7 halftime lead, but the defense minimized the damage to keep Nebraska in the game.
The Blackshirts held Rutgers to just 252 yards of total offense, including 130 rushing and 122 passing, while limiting the Scarlet Knights to just 52 plays from scrimmage. Nebraska also won the time of possession battle, 39:31-20:29.
Linebacker Nick Henrich led the Huskers with 12 tackles, while Will Honas added eight stops. Garrett Nelson and Pheldarius Payne also pitched in five stops apiece, while Honas, Nelson and Payne all notched 1.5 tackles for loss. Cam Taylor-Britt also turned in Nebraska's biggest defensive play with his interception at the NU 9 with 7:35 left in the game. Martinez and the Husker offense ran out the clock by marching down the field before ending the contest in victory formation.
In addition to overcoming turnovers, the Husker offense also had to survive poor starting field position and sustain drives. In fact, all four of Nebraska's scoring drives covered at least 75 yards, including three drives of 90 or more yards.
First Quarter (RUT 3-0)
RUT - 8:55 - Valentino Ambrosio 36 FG, 5 plays, 55 yards, 1:44, RUT 3-0
Second Quarter (RUT 14-7)
RUT - 13:20 - Ambrosio 42 FG, 7 plays, 23 yards, 2:51, RUT 6-0
NEB - 10:07 - Wan'Dale Robinson 1 run (Connor Culp kick), 9 plays, 75 yards, 3:13, NEB 7-6
RUT - 3:19 - Isaih Pacheco 33 run (2PAT pass), 7 plays, 80 yards, 2:12, RUT 14-7
Third Quarter (21-21)
NEB - 9:06 - Adrian Martinez 41 run (Culp kick), 8 plays, 90 yards, 3:56, 14-14
RUT - 8:53 - Aron Cruickshank 98 kickoff return (Ambrosio kick), RUT 21-14
NEB - 0:43 - Robinson 14 pass from Martinez (Culp kick), 11 plays, 96 yards, 5:09, 21-21
Fourth Quarter (NEB 28-21)
NEB - 9:55 - Martinez 1 run (Culp kick), 9 plays, 92 yards, 4:07, NEB 28-21
Dedrick Mills rushed 25 times for a career-high 191 yards
Photo by Ben Solomon