Sunday, October 15, 2006 12:00 am
No. 21 Nebraska uses ball control to stymie 'Cats
The Associated Press
Nebraska tight end Hunter Teafatiller scores on a fake field goal during the first quarter of Saturday
By ARNE GREEN
MANHATTAN -- A little trickery sure helped, but it was more than gimmicks that sent Nebraska to the top of the Big 12 North standings and the Kansas State Wildcats back to the drawing board.
While the No. 21-ranked Cornhuskers scored on a fake field goal to start the game and used another fourth-down conversion to set up a second second touchdown, it was their dominance on the ground Saturday night that secured a 21-3 victory over K-State in front of 50,723 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
In running their record to 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the Big 12, the Huskers won for the first time since 2006 in Manhattan, snapping a four-game skid. And they did it in dominating fashion by controlling the ball for 34 minutes, 51 seconds.
"We faced a good team tonight, a team that's dominant running the football, which I expected," said K-State coach Ron Prince, whose Wildcats fell to 4-3 and 1-2 in the league. "I thought giving our defense that many plays on the field would really damage us and would be too much to hold up against.
"That's really the story of the game. We were 1 of 13 on third downs, which resulted in way too many shots for the Nebraska offense to take at us."
While Nebraska used a balanced attack -- 190 yards rushing, 166 passing -- for 356 total yards, 272 of K-State's 294 came through the air.
"I'm not happy," K-State offensive tackle Greg Wafford said after the Wildcats generated just 22 yards rushing on 18 attempts. "Nebraska is a good team and they played well, but we didn't execute well enough on offense."
Nebraska got off to a fast start, receiving the opening kick, marching 80 yards in nine plays and drawing first blood on the fake field goal.
With Jordan Congdon lined up for a 34-yarder, holder and backup kicker Jake Wesch rolled to his right and found reserve tight end Hunter Teafatiller all alone for the 17-yard touchdown pass.
"At the beginning of this week, (the coaches) said that they had seen on film that they (rush) pretty hard coming in on blocks," said Congdon. "There have been a lot of times this year that they have blocked field goals and punts.
"It was wide open in the film, so we just took a shot at it and we did it."
K-State defensive end Rob Jackson acknowledged that the play was an early blow to the Wildcat defense, which thought it had held.
"It hurt, but it was early enough in the game that there was a lot of game left," he said.
Brandon Jackson's 48-yard run helped set up the touchdown.
Quarterback Zac Taylor provided the spark on the second scoring drive, which also covered 80 yards, this time in 10 plays.
On fourth down and 2 at the K-State 27, Taylor faked a handoff left to the running back and ran 24 yards on a bootleg right to the 3. On the next play he found Josh Mueller, another backup tight end, in the back of the end zone with 11:02 left in the half.
"The good thing about that play was there was so little time on the play clock that I didn't have time to think about it," Taylor said of his run. "They were planning on a run from the tailback, so it worked out pretty well."
While Nebraska's running game flourished, K-State was reliant on quarterback Josh Freeman's arm.
Freeman completed 23 of 47 passes with 272 despite constant pressure from Nebraska's front seven. Running back Leon Patton had just 13 yards on 12 carries. Throw out Daniel Gonzalez's 38-yard gain on a fake punt in the first quarter and the Wildcats were minus-16 yards rushing.
Nebraska, which did not turn the ball over, got 92 yards rushing from Jackson and 71 and a touchdown from Marlon Lucky.
Jermaine Moreira caught six passes for 86 yards and Gonzalez four for 72 to lead K-State.
Nebraska, which led 14-0 at halftime, extended it on its second possession of the third quarter with the help of a replay overrule.
On the first play from his own 28, Taylor hit Maurice Purify for 32 yards, only to have Purify fumble and K-State recover. But the replay official ruled that Purify's knee was down and the Huskers retained possession at the Wildcat 40.
On the next play, Lucky burst 40 yards up the middle for the touchdown.
K-State, which reached Nebraska territory just once in the first half -- Jeff Snodgrass missed a 53-yard field goal on the last play from the Husker 36 -- finally got on the board with 4:44 left in the third period when Snodgrass made good on another 53-yarder.
The 12-play drive penetrated to the NU 20 before a pair of sacks and an incomplete pass forced the Wildcats to settle for three.
Nebraska had 232 yards total offense in the first half to 124 for K-State, which picked up 49 of its 83 passing yards on a pair of long completions from Freeman to Gonzalez in the final minute. The second pass, a 30-yarder, set up Snodgrass's field goal try that fell short as time expired.
Gonzalez accounted for 99 of K-State's first-half yards with three catches for 61 and a 38-yard run on a fake punt in the first quarter.
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