LaTech's highlight: Holland's TD grab

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BY RYLY JANE HAMBLETON / Lincoln Journal Star

Saturday, Sep 02, 2006 - 09:00:40 pm CDT

When Johnathan Holland went crashing into the seats in the south end zone, he gave Louisiana Tech cause to believe.

Holland streaked down the east  sideline and made a one-handed catch of a 39-yard Zac Champion pass to cut Nebraska’s lead to 14-10 late in the second quarter.

“That was amazing. I mean, I thought ‘Man, I caught that!’ We needed that,” said Holland, who finished the game with seven catches for 139 yards. “It’s designed where if the cornerback is sitting, I blow by him, which I did.

Story Photo
Johnathan Holland makes a fingertip catch for a touchdown at 2:36 of the second quarter. (Ted Kirk)

“I looked up at the last minute and caught it. I remember I couldn’t slow down, so I grabbed for a cushion or something. It hurt when I hit the chair. But once you score, you don’t really feel any pain.”

Louisiana Tech coach Jack Bicknell said he wasn’t surprised by Holland’s acrobatic catch.

“That’s the second one he’s had like that. He had one against Nevada last year,” he said. “It was just a great play and a great catch. He’s a good player and can run by people.”

That had the Bulldogs thinking their game plan — which was devised to win, not just to stay close to Nebraska — was on target.

But the Huskers scored just before halftime, then opened the second half with another score and the uphill climb for Louisiana Tech just became too steep.

Two plays before Cody Glenn scored just seconds until halftime, Louisiana Tech nearly ended the drive when Bulldog linebacker Brannon Jackson tipped a Zac Taylor pass but the ball fell to the field.

“They did a nice job on that drive. We had one interception we almost got, which would have been nice,” Bicknell said. “We had opportunities to keep it close and all of a sudden, I looked up and it was 42-10. Until the last five minutes, I never felt like for a second we were completely out of it.”

Bicknell said it was difficult to assess the game.

“I hate these games because you wonder how in the world did it get out of hand like that,” Bicknell said. “But this was still encouraging for a young team to come in here and play a very good football team and not feel like we were totally out of it.”

Bicknell said the Husker defense made things difficult for Champion.

“Their pass rush was an issue. They’re pretty big guys to go against and it was very difficult to protect,” he said. “It was his first start and in this environment, that is not easy. Against this team, it’s not easy. He did very well and made good decisions.

“It started out with some difficult things happening to Zac. He had a pass dropped and there was a big sack. But rather than getting rattled, he kept his composure.”

Champion said it took a little time to get comfortable.

“They have a dang good pass rush. They come off the ball fast and they’re nasty,” he said. “You have to be tough and take it, because they were ready to come after you.

“I learned I could play with those boys. It’s one of those things of just being out there and getting hit. They did that a good bit.”

Champion wasn’t the only one to notice the size and power of the Huskers.

“This is a little different than junior college,” admitted defensive end Ben McGilton. “I played at a very good junior college and we were very dominant. This is only the second game I’ve lost in three years. I wouldn’t say the speed of the game is a big difference, but the physicality of the offensive linemen is a really big difference.”

Bicknell said despite Nebraska’s size advantage, the Bulldogs held their own.

“Their quarterback is a very good player. I don’t know if it was just me, but they seemed to be very big — big tight ends, big linemen, big receivers — and they obviously have some talent there,” Bicknell said. “But I don’t have the feeling here today that they just jammed it down our throat running the ball. We missed some tackles and they made some runs. And I don’t have the feeling our corners can’t run with their receivers. We just made some mental mistakes.”

Reach Ryly Jane Hambleton at 473-7314 or rhambleton@journalstar.com


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