HuskersHQ@theindependent.com
AP Wire:
Lead Sports | Pro Football | College Football | Other Sports
More College Football from Homegame and NewsWorks

No. 1 Nebraska 45, Missouri 38 (OT)

By an inch: Late Husker heroics snatch win from Tigers

Finally a celebration
AP Photo
Nebraska quarterback Scott Frost and Josh Heskew celebrate after Frost's overtime touchdown.

Ahman gets a few more
AP Photo
Nebraska running back Ahman Green is wrapped up by Missouri's Justin Wyatt, left, and Barry Odom, right, during the first half Saturday.

NU avoids upset by smallest of margins

By Mike Kluck
The Independent

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Whoever said football games are decided by inches must be sitting back and smiling after watching Nebraska's 45-38 victory over Missouri.

Because it was inches and Matt Davison's fingertips that sent the 3-hour, 23-minute contest into an extra period get and kept the Cornhuskers (9-0 overall and 6-0 in the Big 12 Conference) in the hunt for a national championship.

"The ball was just a couple off inches from the ground," said Davison, a true freshman from Tecumseh. "A couple of inches from no national championship."

Nebraska faced a third and 10 from the Missouri 12-yard line with seven seconds remaining in regulation and NU down 38-31 to the upset minded Tigers (6-4, 4-3). That's when NU senior quarterback Scott Frost dropped back for one final pass.

Frost's pass to junior wingback Shevin Wiggins was bobbled but as Wiggins was going down he accidentally kicked the ball keeping the play alive. The ball bounced off a Missouri player's helmet and fell into the diving catch of Davison, stunning the 66,846 fans at Faurot Field, who had already started storming the field.

Kris Brown's kicked tied the game and sent Nebraska into its first overtime in school history.

"We had some bad breaks and some good breaks," Nebraska coach Tom Osborne said. "The good breaks came at the end of the game. It was just kind of one of those days where somebody was going to win it at the end and we were very fortunate to win it."

The Huskers had the ball first in the overtime period and it took them just three plays to go 25 yards and score on a Frost 12-yard run. The touchodwn run was Frost's fourth of the day, which tied a Husker school record. He finished the day with 141 yards rushing on 23 carries.

Then it was the Huskers defense's turn. NU had not been able to stop the Tigers and their junior quarterback Corby Jones all day.

The Blackshirts, which had held the previous three NU opponents to a combined 329 total offensive yards and seven points, had let the Tigers compile 386 yards and 38 points through regulation.

But through the first three plays in overtime the Tigers gained just three yards on a Jones run. Jones also had two incompletions before facing fourth down.

On fourth down Jones was sacked by Nebraska senior defensive end and Webb City, Mo., graduate Grant Wistrom for a six-yard loss. Wistrom finished the day with five tackles including three sacks for a loss of 23 yards.

"It was a fourth-quarter football game and I'm just happy to win it," Wistrom said. "(Missouri) played their hearts out and the defense did pretty bad. We did it when it mattered."

Almost as important as the defense's overtime stop was its play on MU's last drive in the fourth quarter.

After a Jesse Kosch punt, Missouri took over on their own 22-yard line with 3:31 remaining in the game. But the Nebraska defense held and forced the Tigers to punt with just over a minute remaining in the game.

"I told the huddle to dig down deep and do it," Frost said. "If we would have lost this one all our wins were meaningless."

On the first play Frost, who was 6-for-14 throwing before the final series hit junior split end Kenny Cheatham for a 27-yard gain to give the Huskers a first down on the MU 40-yard line.

The coach in consultation
AP Photo
Coach Tom Osborne talks to Aaron Taylor (67) during the closing moments.
"We made some plays, we made some good throws and good catches," Osborne said. "They were laying back quite a bit and we were able to hit some passes in front of them.

"The play that got us started was the out and up to Kenny Cheatham. That was really critical."

Frost threw two incompletions before hitting Davison for a 13-yard gain to the MU 27-yard line. Frost then hit Cheatham two more times for an eight and seven yards, which gave the Huskers a first down at the 12-yard line.

After a Frost downing of the football and an incompletion to Davison, Davison then made his catch. Frost was 5 of 10 passing in the drive, including downing the ball twice. Frost finished the game with 11 completions on 24 attempts for 175 yards.

"This offense can't be stopped by any defense," Frost said. "Right now we have all the confidence in the world. Sixty yards in 56 seconds, that was unbelievable."

One key ingredient to the Husker offense on Saturday was junior I-back Ahman Green who finished the game with 30 carries for 189 yards and one touchdown. Green also caught two passes for 48 yards.

Nebraska appeared to have confidence in the fourth quarter when Kris Brown kicked a 44-yard field that tied the game at 31-31 with 10:50 remaining. The kick was Brown's longest of the season and gave him the school record for consecutive field goals.

On the next series Missouri moved the ball to Nebraska's 39-yard line but on third and 14 Jones was intercepted by freshman Joe Walker giving the Huskers the ball and a first down at their own 22.

However, two plays later Frost threw his second interception of the game when junior Harold Piersey picked off the pass and returned the ball to the 30. Four plays later Jones hit junior wide reciever Eddie Brooks for a 15-yard touchdown and a 38-31 lead with 4:39 remaining in the contest.

"I am just extremely proud of our football team," Missouri coach Larry Smith said. "It was just a a never-say-die, never quit attitude.

"Corby Jones played with a lot of courage and heart. It just came down to Corby Jones making plays."

Jones, made the plays throughout the game, especially in the first half where he completed eight of 11 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 10 yards as MU built a 24-21 halftime lead. Jones finished the game with 60 yards rushing and a touchdown and 233 yards passing and two touchdowns.

"Missouri is a great team," Osborne said. "We just couldn't stop their offense all day. Corby Jones is terrific.

"I can't remember one like this one, win or lose, there hasn't been one like this for a long time."

 

Other Stories
Helmet
Miracle Matt saves the day for Huskers: Newest savior keeps seniors dreams alive

Husker offense keeps producing: A few career days helped the Big Red pile up yards, pull out victory

Corby's big day: Nebraska's defense finally caught Jones at the end

Nebraskans jubilant, worried after nailbiter: Fans relish win, but dissapointed about play, poll prospects

Fans see promise, even in loss: For Columbia's faithful, and Big Red visitors, an exhausting time all around

Gameday Notes: Record returns, kicks and runs

Game summary, statistics

To the Huskers Archive Top of Page


Questions? Comments? e-mail our Webmaster
© 1997 The Grand Island Independent
AP materials © 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.