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Dec. 29, 2005, 1:48AM
ALAMO BOWL
Taylor one-ups Henne when it counts most
Nebraska rallies past Michigan with 15 late points

SAN ANTONIO - Eight years ago, Michigan and Nebraska were co-national champions. Wednesday night, they were trying to use the Alamo Bowl as a catapult back toward national prominence.

Wolverines quarterback Chad Henne had the upper hand early, accounting for an Alamo Bowl-record-tying four touchdowns. But Nebraska's Zac Taylor, with a little help from running back Cory Ross and their defensive mates, stole the spotlight down the stretch.

Ross scored on a 31-yard run, and linebacker Ola Dagunduro recovered a Henne fumble setting up an eight-yard touchdown pass from Taylor to Terrence Nunn, and Nebraska scored 15 points in the final eight minutes to post a come-from-behind 32-28 victory over the 20th-ranked Wolverines.

With less than five minutes left, Henne took the Wolverines from midfield to the 18 of the Cornhuskers. But on fourth down, Henne threw toward Mario Manningham at the five, and the pass was batted away by Zackary Bowman.

"It was a great victory for our team and for the state of Nebraska. It was a great way to close out 2005," Nebraska coach Bill Callahan said. "We said before the beginning of the game, no matter what the outcome was, we were going to learn from this game and grow."

On the final play, the Wolverines did an unsuccessful impersonation of the 1982 California team against Stanford, , using laterals and a forward pass in a desperate attempt to reach the Cornhuskers goal line.

Push for 2006

Nebraska (8-4) gained the momentum that Callahan had hoped for as he heads toward next season. And Lloyd Carr and the Wolverines (7-5). were left to ponder what comes next.

Ross, voted the game's top player on offense, carried 28 times for 161 yards and the one touchdown.

Big plays characterized the opening minutes at the Alamodome. Nebraska used a 52-yard pass from Taylor to Nunn for a 7-0 lead.

A 69-yard kickoff return by Michigan's Steve Breaston ensued, setting in motion a five-play, 30-yard drive that resulted in a 7-7 deadlock. Henne delivered the touchdown on a 13-yard pass into the end zone to Tyler Ecker.

Leon Hall's second interception of the half gave the Wolverines another scoring chance.

Henne made the most of it. His 16-yard touchdown pass to Mike Massey was the capper to a three-play, 28-yard drive as the Wolverines forged ahead 14-7 at 11:43 of the second period.

Just before the end of the half, Nebraska came back with the equalizer.

A would-be touchdown toss from Taylor was canceled out by a holding call on offensive lineman Chris Patrick. It was only a momentary setback. On the next play, Taylor hooked up with wide-open receiver Nate Swift for a 14-yard pass that tied the score.

Struggle after halftime

On its first possession of the third period, Nebraska was denied a touchdown for a second time.

On third-and-goal from the Michigan 3, Nunn appeared to have snared a Taylor pass in the right-front corner of the end zone, but it was overturned.

Nebraska settled for Sam Koch's 20-yard field goal to go ahead for the second time on the night at 17-14.

Back came the Wolverines with another counterpunch. Henne completed his third touchdown pass of the night, this one to Manningham, for a 21-17 lead.

Four minutes into the final period, Henne accounted for his fourth touchdown of the night. His seven-yard scrambling, scoring run upped the Wolverines' advantage to 28-17.

Nebraska finished with three straight victories for the first time since 1999. It's now 5-0 in the Alamodome.

william.stickney@chron.com

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