Huskers Finish Strong in Win Over Jayhawks

By NU Athletic Communications
Roy Helu Jr. scored twice and finished with 176 all-purpose yards, including his second straight 100-yard rushing game.
Roy Helu Jr. scored twice and finished with 176 all-purpose yards, including his second straight 100-yard rushing game.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Lincoln - Behind big plays from sophomore I-back Roy Helu Jr. and junior defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, the Nebraska football team scored 21 fourth-quarter points and held on for a 45-35 victory over the Kansas Jayhawks in front of the 296th consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium on a chilly and windy Saturday afternoon.

The win was Nebraska's 20th straight victory over Kansas at Memorial Stadium dating back to 1968. The victory also made the Huskers (6-4, 3-3 Big 12) bowl eligible. Kansas fell to 6-4 overall and dropped to 3-3 in league play, falling into a second-place tie with Nebraska in the Big 12 North Division standings.

In the fourth quarter, Helu and Suh both shined to highlight terrific performances from both players. Helu rushed for 78 yards and one touchdown in the fourth quarter. He finished the victory with a game-high 115 yards rushing and a game-high eight catches. The eight catches were a career high, while his 176 all-purpose yards were also a career high, fueled by his second straight 100-yar rushing game.

Suh also added a touchdown in the fourth quarter when he lined up at fullback and caught his first career pass for a two-yard touchdown that put Nebraska up by 10 with less than six minutes remaining. The Portland, Ore., native was all over the field on Saturday, recording a career-high 12 tackles, including four tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and one quarterback hurry.

In addition to the play of Suh and Helu, the battle of two of the nation's most efficient quarterbacks did not disappoint either. Senior Joe Ganz completed 28-of-37 passes for 324 yards and three touchdowns, while Kansas' Todd Reesing connected on 15-of-30 attempts for 304 yards and three scores.

In the first half, Nebraska moved the ball efficiently but struggled to put points on the board. The Huskers drove inside the KU 40-yard line five times in the half, but only scored on two of those five possessions. A pair of costly turnovers and a missed fourth-down conversion kept the Huskers from taking the lead into the locker room.

Nebraska relied on its sophomore I-back tandem of Helu and Quentin Castille to score the game's first points on the Huskers' second series. Helu touched the ball on the first three plays of the drive, including a critical 17-yard reception on 3rd-and-6 from the NU 24. Castille then caught a 17-yard pass of his own, before rushing for 18 yards to put the Huskers inside the red zone. Senior I-back Marlon Lucky then capped the 80-yard drive with the fifth touchdown pass of his career, a four-yard toss to sophomore tight end Mike McNeill.

Kansas answered right back on its ensuing drive. Quarterback Todd Reesing found Dezmon Briscoe for back-to-back gains of 17 and 40 yards to open the drive. Reesing then absorbed a big hit before finding Kerry Meier down the right sideline for a 28-yard touchdown.

Nebraska drove down inside the KU 35 on its next possession, before coming up short on a fourth-down try. The Huskers quickly got the ball back and again drove down field. NU came up empty once again however, as Lucky fumbled on a 3rd-and-2 play from the KU 23.

Those missed opportunities loomed large late in the second quarter after Reesing found Briscoe for a 53-yard touchdown strike that put Kansas in front 14-7.

When the Huskers got the ball back, they once again drove quickly down the KU 35. The drive appeared to stall before Ganz found senior Nate Swift for a 10-yard pick up on a 4th-and-5 play. Three plays later, Ganz found junior Chris Brooks down the middle for a 25-yard game-tying touchdown. The touchdown reception was the first of Brooks' career.

The NU defense then forced its first 3-and-out of the game and a 15-yard punt return by Swift set the Husker offense up at the Kansas 49-yard line with 1:25 remaining in the half. Nebraska picked up 13 yards on its first play before James Holt picked off a Ganz pass to keep the Huskers off the scoreboard once again.

In the second half, Nebraska forced a quick Kansas punt and Swift returned it 47 yards to the KU 43. The Huskers drove inside the 20 before settling for a 35-yard Alex Henery field goal to regain the lead at 17-14.

The Husker defense forced a punt on the Jayhawks’ next possession, but Swift fumbled the return and Kansas recovered at the NU 20. Four plays later, Reesing found Dexton Fields for an 11-yard touchdown that put KU back on top, 21-17.

The Huskers quickly regained the lead  for good on the strength of an eight-play, 78-yard touchdown drive. Ganz threw for 62 yards on the drive, while Helu found the end zone on a 10-yard run.

Helu found paydirt again the next time he touched the ball. After forcing a Kansas punt, Helu scampered 52 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the drive to put Nebraska in front, 31-21.

Kansas quickly made it a one-score game again with a clutch nine-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that was capped by Jake Sharp’s seven-yard TD run.

Helu marched the Huskers downfield again on their ensuing possession, ripping off a 23-yard run to set NU up inside the KU 30. Facing a 3rd-and-6 from the 24, Ganz found Swift running wide open for a 22-yard gain. Two plays later, Ganz found Suh, a defensive lineman who lined up at fullback, for a two-yard touchdown pass.

Another defensive lineman made a big play on Kansas' next possession, as Zach Potter intercepted his second pass of the season to set Nebraska up at the KU 22. NU then executed a nifty fake field goal attempt on 4th-and-8 from the 20 before Ganz found Swift for a 14-yard touchdown pass, his third of the game.

Trailing 45-28, Kansas mounted a nine-play, 75-yard run that was capped by a Reesing 14-yard touchdown scramble with 2:15 remaining. The Jayhawks then recovered an onside kick, but lost 12 yards on four plays before the Huskers ran out the clock.

Nebraska faces another Sunflower state foe next Saturday, as the Huskers travel to Manhattan, Kan., to face the Kansas State Wildcats. Kickoff for NU's final road game of 2008 is set for 2:35 p.m. and the game will be televised on a pay-per-view basis by Fox Sports Net.

Scoring (Nebraska 45, Kansas 35)
Nov. 8, 2008
Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, Neb.)
Attendance: 85,486 (296th Consecutive Sellout)

First Quarter (Nebraska 7, Kansas 7)
NU -
 Mike McNeill 4 pass from Marlon Lucky (Alex Henery kick), 4:47
KU - Kerry Meier 28 pass from Todd Reesing (Jacob Branstetter kick), 3:17

Second Quarter (Nebraska 14, Kansas 14)
KU -
Dezmon Briscoe 53 pass from Reesing (Branstetter kick), 4:39
NU - Chris Brooks 25 pass from Ganz (Henery kick), 2:17

Third Quarter (Nebraska 24, Kansas 21)
 Henery 35 field goal
KU Dexter Field 11 pass from Reesing (Branstetter kick), 4:32
NU Roy Helu Jr. 10 run (Henery kick), 0:08

Fourth Quarter (Nebraska 45, Kansas 35)
 Helu 52 run (Henery kick), 14:01
KU Jack Sharp 7 run (Branstetter kick), 9:56
NU Ndamukong Suh 2 pass from Ganz (Henery kick), 5:58
NU - Nate Swift 14 pass from Ganz (Henery kick), 3:48
KU - Reesing 14 run (Branstetter kick), 2:15


Nebraska vs. Kansas Final Game Statistics
Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini Quotes    (Audio)
Nebraska Player Quotes   (Audio)
Nebraska Postgame Notes

Kansas Coach Mark Mangino Quotes    (Audio)

Kansas Player Quotes

Kansas Postgame Notes

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