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John Mabry: Taylor makes mom proud (and a lot of others)

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BY JOHN MABRY / Lincoln Journal Star

Sunday, Nov 12, 2006 - 12:11:51 am CST

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Yes, college football lives here, and dang, is it noisy. Talk about a den of din. In “Spinal Tap” terms, Kyle Field goes to 11.

But on Saturday, there was one guy in red who didn’t notice.

“There weren’t many distractions,” said NU quarterback Zac Taylor.

Taylor is right. Other than the screaming and yelling (which they actually practice) and the cannon-firing and the towel-waving and the stands rocking (literally), there weren’t many distractions.

Somehow, Taylor turned down the volume of 83,336 fans — or at least the 78,000 in maroon — with one beautifully placed lob job to Maurice Purify. It was the capper to Taylor’s most impressive 1 minute and 36 seconds as a Husker.

After throwing what appeared to be a deal-buster of an interception, Taylor grabbed the wheel and took his team on a drive the guys will never forget.

Eleven plays, 75 yards, one Big 12 North title and one really happy mom.

Julie Taylor, with eyes glistening, had not cleared the last butterfly from her stomach as she walked from the stands to find her son, the senior captain who now has more passing yards than any Husker has ever had.

To say Mom was a little rattled during the final minutes of Saturday’s game would be a not-so-slight understatement. She said she was actually feeling a little sick to her stomach at one point. But it was nothing Zac’s father, a former football coach, couldn’t make better.

“I really, honestly didn’t watch. I didn’t watch,” Julie said. “I just listened to the crowd. When (Texas A&M) scored on that last drive. Sherwood said: ‘Two minutes. We’ve got this. Absolutely. We’ve got this.’ He was never worried.”

Neither were the Huskers.

“He’s just so calm, so poised,” receiver Todd Peterson said of Zac  Taylor. “No matter if he’s getting knocked on his butt or has time out there, he’s just the same guy.”

No offense to the guys who try their best to keep it from happening, but Taylor does take a pounding. He was sacked four times Saturday, and a couple of his scrambling escape runs ended badly, too. The hit he took from defensive lineman Henry Smith in the fourth quarter was not nice at all. I can’t imagine how Taylor feels on Sunday mornings, but I bet he keeps the Advil bottle close by.

He was feeling no pain Saturday evening. Not after A&M’s Marques Thornton got flagged for roughing, giving Taylor another shot with Purify. And certainly not after Purify came down with the game-winning catch.

What a senior moment for one of the most humble stars in Husker land. It was a team win, of course, but it was Taylor’s signature victory to date.

Julie Taylor made a point of mentioning the fact “they all” pulled out a big win. But all those other guys don’t make her cry.

“You know, all season, he’s done really great. He’s done really great,” she said. “He doesn’t think he’s done really great. I really just wanted him to have a game where he pulled it together, and he did.

“He did.”

End zone

* On an Aggie pre-game radio show, former Husker athletic director Bill Byrne wasn’t too shy about his feelings about Saturday’s matchup. Byrne, now the athletic director at Texas A&M, would only refer to Nebraska as his “former employer.”

“I want to beat these guy so bad,” Byrne said on the show.

* It was so chilly down on the sideline at the end of the game, I thought about asking the Orange Bowl rep if I could borrow his jacket. I just don’t know if that’s the kind of fashion statement I want to be making.

* Cody Glenn, so nice to see you again.

* Those with scoreboard envy can relax. NU’s is bigger.

Reach John Mabry at 473-7320 or

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