Same old story
Wildcats offer no excuses about 56-26 loss to the Huskers
Sun Dee Mills
New year. Same result. A 56-26 win for Nebraska.
But no excuses.
"They were that much better than we were tonight," Coach Bill Snyder said. "I've played them for the last nine years, and I've been up here five of the nine. It hasn't been any different."
K-State's 29th loss to the Cornhuskers on Saturday night began with offensive Husker domination of the ball. Like Gen. Sherman marching through Georgia to the sea, the Huskers marched uncontested down the field on the first series and ran the ball 80 yards for a touchdown.
Husker I-back Ahman Green and quarterback Scott Frost rushed the majority of the drive, topped off by Green's 25-yard run for the touchdown.
Green's 20 rushes for 193 yards marked the 11th time in his career he rushed more than 100 yards in a game. Husker coach Tom Osborne said he expected nothing less from Green.
"He played very well, " Osborne said. "Once he gets going, he is very hard to catch."
Cat defensive back Lamar Chapman was injured on the point-after attempt. Snyder said the Husker tight end from the far side came across the line of scrimmage and blocked Chapman, but he didn't know the extent of the injury. Chapman reappeared on the next defensive drive, but wide receiver David Allen returned punts for the rest of the game.
The Cats answered on the next drive with a touchdown of their own. Quarterback Michael Bishop's first two rushing attempts put the Cats into third-and-15, but Bishop completed a 19-yard pass to wideout Everett Burnett to gain the first down.
A 46-yard pass completed to Burnett put the Cats on the Huskers' 1-yard line, and Cat running back Eric Hickson dived over the pile of players into the end zone for the touchdown.
Hickson, a senior, was disappointed he didn't get to beat the Huskers during his career at K-State.
"You always want to beat the best team, and today we didn't," Hickson said. "It was all about execution. We didn't execute, and bad things happen when you don't execute."
Bad things began on the Cats' point-after attempt. The snap was muffed, and holder James Garcia couldn't get control of the ball.
Kicker Martin Gramatica never got a chance to kick because he was flattened by a Husker defender. Garcia's attempt to pick up the ball and run failed, and for the third time in four years of the series, the Cats failed at their first extra-point attempt.
The Huskers couldn't move the ball on their next drive, and the Cats had an opportunity to get the ball back. But on the punt return, the Cats were penalized 16 yards for roughing the kicker and the Huskers got a first down.
This penalty gave the Huskers momentum, and Frost attempted a 4-yard touchdown run to end the 66-yard drive and the first quarter. Unable to convert, the Huskers settled for a field goal.
Frost was the team's second-leading rusher with 111 yards, and he attributed his success to the Husker offensive line.
"They just keep getting better," Frost said. "The confidence is great. They're blowing people off the ball and making big holes. I think the key is that there are five guys in there who are fifth-year seniors or seniors."
The second quarter began the Cats' downslide. The Cats didn't get a first down in the first series, and recorded their first tackle for a loss of Husker yardage when linebacker Mark Simoneau knocked Green back two yards in the Huskers' first series.
On the Cats' next drive, Bishop threw his first interception of his Division I-A career. The pass, intended for Burnett, was broken up by rover Mike Brown. Husker free safety Eric Warfield recovered the bauble and returned the ball 26 yards to the K-State 14-yard line.
Cat defense only allowed the Huskers another field goal on the interception. But on the Cats' next possession, the team could only move the ball to the K-State 31-yard line. That would be the farthest the Cats would move the ball that quarter.
The Huskers scored another touchdown with 4:33 left in the second quarter, putting the score at 20-6. Defensive back Cephus Scott got the first interception of his career on a Frost pass attempt, but the Cats couldn't move the ball.
Going into the locker room down by 14, Snyder said he knew the Cats still had a chance to get back in the game. But the third quarter was the beginning of the end.
"It was a series of things," Snyder said. "Our inability to move the ball in the third quarter, our kicking game fell apart, a couple of turnovers, and we got soft on defense for awhile."
All of that plus dropped passes, penalties and the Huskers offensive success put the Cats in a 41-6 hole going into the fourth quarter.
"That's what makes them good, they don't make mistakes," right tackle Ryan Young said. "They just capitalized on our mistakes."
Against the Huskers second-stringers, the Cats began lighting up the scoreboard. But the Huskers did so as well, and the score reached its 56-26 mark with 49 seconds left in the game. Young said although the Huskers definitely outplayed the Cats, no one quit playing.
"I don't think anyone gave up," Young said. "We thought we could beat them this year."
Same hopes. Same result. But again, Snyder refused to offer excuses.
"I don't think the crowd noise bothered us," Snyder said. "I don't think it was the atmosphere. I think it was Nebraska. They just have a darn good football team."
Copyright 1997, Student Publications Inc. All rights reserved.
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