Nebraska humbles NIU 60-14

By Eric Burt

LINCOLN, Neb._ Huskie head coach Jerry Pettibone, as confident in his team as any coach in the nation, came to a realization after Saturday’s 60-14 loss to Nebraska.

“I’m glad we’re through playing Nebraska,” he said. “I’d just as soon play teams that are more at our development. We’re not ready for Nebraska.”

It looked as if the Cornhuskers would run away with the game after going up 16-0 in the first quarter. But the Huskies roared back and cut the lead to 16-11 on a 48-yard touchdown run by Adam Dach (the longest run of his career) and a 42-yard field goal by John Ivanic.

“I am really proud of how they came back after that,” Pettibone said. “They could have decided ‘here we go again’, but they didn’t do that. I really think we showed a lot of poise after we got down 16-0.”

The field goal by Ivanic put him ahead of Reino Nori as NIU’s leading career scorer with 208 points. His second field goal of the day made him the Huskies’ all-time field goal leader with 42.

Once the Huskies got close, Nebraska quarterback Mickey Joseph began to put on a show, much to the delight of the 76,043 fans who comprised Memorial Stadium’s 170th straight sellout.

Joseph, in his first career start, ran for 75 yards and a touchdown and completed 4-of-11 passes for 103 yards. I-back Leodis Flowers also starred with a career-high 124 yards on the ground.

“I want to compliment Nebraska on a truly fine football team,” Pettibone said. “I said all week that I really thought they had one of the top defenses in the nation, and that their offense was scary and looked like it was ready to explode.”

Explode they did. Seven different offensive players scored for the ‘Huskers as they compiled 549 yards of total offense.

The Huskies suffered two major casualties in the first half. Defensive end Scott Van Bellinger went down with a knee sprain and will be out for the next 3-4 weeks, if not the season, according to Pettibone. He will be examined today to determine the extent of the injury. Backup fullback Erik Jensen went down with a similar injury and will be out for the season.

“This was a very physical game for us,” Pettibone said. “I don’t think it’s worth it. It’s great if you can come in here and be competitive. It’s great for recruiting, it’s great for exposure for your program. But what happened to us today isn’t worth it.”

NIU did put together 295 yards of offense against Nebraska, which Pettibone said has “one of the top defenses in the nation.” Dach gained 89 yards on 13 carries to pace the Huskies offense. Quarterback Stacey Robinson ran for 58 yards and completed 10-of-16 passes for 98 yards. Steve Rodgers was Robinson’s primary receiver with three catches for 67 yards.

“I thought our offensive team moved the ball on by far the finest defensive team we’ve ever played,” Pettibone said. “Nebraska just wore us down. They’ve got everything that a truly great defense needs to have.”

The Huskies defense was led by linebackers Steve Henriksen and Nick Jones, each with 10 tackles. Cornerback Rich Favor had an interception and tackle Rob Wagner blocked an extra point try.

What did Pettibone have to say to his players after the game?

“I told them that one game does not make or break a season. We can still realize our goals. What we need to do is regroup this week and get ready for our next opponent.”