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´Huskers mash Kansas from the start

Football team´s blunder keeps Nebraska in running for title

By Jodi M. Smith
Kansan sportswriter

Kansas can´t say it should have won this one.

For the first time this season, the Jayhawks didn´t lose a game in the fourth quarter.

They didn´t allow a late touchdown or field goal, and they didn´t throw an interception on the last play of the game.

Nebraska beat the Jayhawks 41-0 from the get-go.

“I´d take a million losses in the fourth quarter to one like this,” coach Terry Allen said. “Nebraska just kind of took over and rammed it down our throats.”

The ´Hawks were walloped Saturday night by the ´Huskers. It was the ´Huskers´ 30th straight win against the Jayhawks.

It also was their 46th straight home win.

And it kept the Cornhuskers in the running to capture the Big 12 North division title.

The Cornhuskers redeemed themselves after their disappointing 28-21 loss to Texas A&M last week.

And the Jayhawks made it easy for them.

“This was a really big win for us,” Nebraska coach Frank Solich said. “After last week´s loss, this game was monumental in terms of making sure we played hard by getting some points on the board, running the football and getting some things done defensively.”

Once again, it was a story of missed opportunities and crucial mistakes by the 2-5, 0-5 Jayhawks.

But there was one change in the ´Hawks game performance.

The offense that has been able to produce in all of Kansas´ games couldn´t produce a single point Saturday night.

“They´re one of the nation´s best defenses,” quarterback Zac Wegner said. “I don´t think they´re any worse than last year´s defense, and they won a national championship.”

Kansas had a chance to score in the first quarter.

With 1:19 left, Nebraska´s Joe Walker intercepted Wegner´s pass to Termaine Fulton on the 1-yard line.

With 16 seconds left in the half and Nebraska planted on Kansas´ 1-yard line, Kansas recovered a Bobby Newcombe fumble.

But Kansas was called for an offsides penalty on the play, and the down was replayed. Newcombe scored a touchdown on the next play, a 1-yard, over-the-top dive into the end zone.

At least, the officials said he made it into the end zone.

“They (officials) were just giving them stuff right there,” defensive end Dion Rayford said. “The instant replay clearly showed he (Newcombe) didn´t score.”

Newcombe himself admitted he didn´t think he had gotten in.

But the call was made, and those were the Jayhawks´ only chances to keep the ´Huskers from walking all over them.

“It would have been fun to have some of those situations go in our favor, to have some positive things happen,” Allen said. “If you come into Lincoln, you have to have some good things happen for your football team early to build their confidence. Obviously, that didn´t happen for us, and again you have the snowballing effect simply going in the other direction.”

And for the umpteenth time this season, the Jayhawks are wondering what to do now as they return home this weekend to face 17th-ranked Colorado.

One thing they know they won´t do is give up.

“We´ve got no choice,” said running back Mitch Bowles, who pulled his hamstring in the first quarter of the game. “There are no quitters on this team. That´s not why we work hard all year round.”

And because the Jayhawks are still in search of their first conference victory, they have nowhere to go but up.

“We´re excited about coming home for homecoming, and, hey, when you´ve been through what you´ve been through, you´ve got to go in and have some positive things happen,” Allen said. “Maybe this might be the week for us.”

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