More Than Lucky: Huskers Pound Pack
Lincoln - Marlon Lucky erupted for a Nebraska season-opening record 233 rushing yards and three scores to power No. 20 Nebraska to a 52-10 victory over Nevada at Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Playing in front of an NCAA record 283rd consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium and an ABC regional television audience, Lucky stole the show as the featured back in Nebraska's high-powered rushing attack that racked up 413 yards on 70 attempts against the Wolf Pack. Lucky's 233 yards marked a career high while he added 33 more yards receiving and another score to post the best all-purpose yardage total by a Husker in an opener with 266.
With Lucky leading the way, the Huskers provided the 84,078 fans in attendance at Memorial Stadium with a good, old-fashioned display of smashmouth Nebraska football while racking up NU's 22nd straight season-opening victory.
Lucky crossed the 100-yard mark on his first carry of the second half and became the 56th NU running back to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark on the same drive. But Lucky hadn't even reached his halfway mark yet for the day. When the fine, black synthetic dust of Memorial Stadium's FieldTurf had settled, Lucky had jumped to No. 49 on NU's career list, just missing a top-10 single-game rushing effort by one yard.
Along with leading the Huskers on the ground, Lucky also helped Nebraska through the air with three receptions for 33 yards including his first career touchdown catch. He became the first Husker to score four touchdowns in a game since David Horne did it at Texas A&M in 2002.
Although Lucky earned the headlines with this performance, freshman I-back Quentin Castille enjoyed an impressive first game in a Husker uniform by adding two rushing touchdowns of his own, while carrying 18 times for 78 yards.
Senior quarterback Sam Keller also produced a solid opening effort at the controls of Nebraska's West Coast Offense by completing 14-of-25 passes for 193 yards with one touchdown and an interception in his highly anticipated Husker debut.
Keller and reserve quarterback Joe Ganz also got plenty of receivers involved in Nebraska's passing attack, as 11 Huskers recorded at least one reception.
Six Huskers also notched rushing attempts, including freshman Roy Helu, who rumbled 13 yards up the middle late in the fourth quarter to give Nebraska its first 400-yard rushing performance under Coach Bill Callahan and its highest mark since a 444-yard effort in a win over McNeese State in 2002.
Overall, 16 different Nebraska offensive players had a hand in Nebraska rolling to 625 total yards, its highest total of the Callahan-era and most total yardage since a 688-yard effort at Baylor in 2001.
Lucky's 16-yard touchdown reception opened the scoring for Nebraska with 4:16 left in the first quarter to give the Huskers a 7-0 lead.
Nevada responded with a 36-yard Brett Jaekle field goal just over one minute into the second quarter, and the Wolf Pack took their only lead of the game on Jonathon Amaya's 80-yard interception return of a deflected Keller pass.
Trailing 10-7 with just under 11 minutes left in the first half, senior cornerback Cortney Grixby sparked Nebraska with a 42-yard kickoff return. The Huskers then hit the ground running, reeling off nine consecutive rushes to cover 39 yards. The drive was capped by Lucky's one-yard touchdown plunge to give the Huskers a 14-10 lead with 6:40 left in the half and start a run of 45 unanswered points by Nebraska.
After a defensive stop, Nebraska stayed on the ground for the five plays to drive down to the Nevada 9. After a Husker incompletion to break the string, NU pounded the ball toward the goal for two more plays before Quentin Castille plunged for his first career touchdown. Castille's run gave the Huskers a 21-10 lead at halftime.
Nebraska continued to run away from the Wolf Pack to open the second half, taking the opening drive 65 yards in seven plays, including six rushing plays. Lucky carried three times for 43 yards on the drive, including a 17-yard touchdown run to give NU a 28-10 lead.
After the Blackshirts shut down Nevada again, Lucky and the Huskers went back to work. Lucky unleashed another 17-yard run to cross the 1,000-yard mark and post a career-high rushing total on the same play to move NU to the Wolf Pack 9. He carried the load the rest of the way on the next two plays, capped by a three-yard touchdown run to make it 35-10 Huskers with just over nine minutes left in the third quarter.
The Huskers kept rolling in the third quarter with freshman Adi Kunalic connecting on a 46-yard field goal with 4:45 left to push NU's lead to 38-10, before Castille capped Nebraska's 24-point quarter with a one-yard touchdown run to make it 45-10.
Major Culbert added his first career rushing touchdown to Nebraska's total with a 17-yard run to complete the scoring with 8:31 left. Nebraska drove inside the Nevada 5 in the closing minutes, but Ganz took a knee with 25 seconds left to end the Husker onslaught.
The Huskers hit the road for the first time next week when they battle Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, N.C. Kickoff is set for Saturday at 11 a.m. central with an ESPN national telecast.
Scoring (Nebraska 52, Nevada 10)
First Quarter (Nebraska 7, Nevada 0)
NU - Marlon Lucky 16 pass from Sam Keller (Alex Henery kick), 6:22, NU 7-0
Second Quarter (Nebraska 21, Nevada 10)
NEV - Brett Jaekle 36 field goal, 13:58, NU 7-3
NEV - Jonathon Amaya 80 INT return (Jaekle kick), 6:40, NEV 10-7
NU - Marlon Lucky 1 run (Henery kick), 4:03, NU 14-10
NU - Quentin Castille 1 run (Henery kick), 2:22, NU 21-10
Third Quarter (Nebraska 45, Nevada 10)
NU - Marlon Lucky 17 run (Henery kick), 4:03, NU 28-10
NU - Marlon Lucky 3 run (Henery kick), 4:03, NU 35-10
NU - Adi Kunalic 46 field goal, 4:45, NU 38-10
NU - Castille 2 run (Henery kick), 1:16, NU 45-10
Fourth Quarter (Nebraska 52, Nevada 10)
NU - Major Culbert 17 run (Henery kick), 8:31, NU 52-10