Lincoln - In a tale of two halves, No. 23 Nebraska bolted to a 21-3 lead, but No. 16 UCLA closed with 38 unanswered points in the final two-and-half quarters to leave Memorial Stadium with a 41-21 victory over the Huskers.
Playing in front of the NCAA-record 328th consecutive sellout and the largest crowd (91,471) in Memorial Stadium history, the Huskers had their 14-game home non-conference winning streak snapped, along with their streak of 10-straight home wins.
For the second straight week, Husker senior corner Stanley Jean-Baptiste played a key role in getting Nebraska on the board first. On UCLA's second possession, Jean-Baptiste picked off a Brett Hundley pass and returned it 34 yards to the UCLA 28. It marked the third straight game to open the season that Jean-Baptiste recorded an interception.
Taylor Martinez and the Husker offense turned the pick into points four plays later, when senior wide receiver Quincy Enunwa hauled in an 11-yard touchdown catch. It was Enunwa's fourth touchdown grab of the season and gave NU a 7-0 lead with 9:45 left in the first quarter.
Following a 44-yard field goal by UCLA's Ka'imi Fairbairn, Martinez and the Huskers answered with Nebraska's longest drive of the young season. Enunwa capped a balanced march with an 18-yard connection with fellow Californian Martinez. Enunwa put an exclamation point on his quick slant by plowing over a pair of Bruin defenders and plunging into the middle of the end zone to give Nebraska a 14-3 lead with 31 seconds left in the opening quarter. Enunwa finished with three catches for 39 yards.
In the second quarter, the Blackshirts forced UCLA into its third punting situation of the game after the Bruins played without punting in their opening game win over Nevada. But Sean Covington did not get the punt off, mishandling the snap and then trying to run for the first down. Randy Gregory took down Covington to set the NU offense up with great field position at the UCLA 26.
The Huskers capitalized two plays later, as Martinez tossed his third touchdown pass of the game, a 22-yard strike to Kenny Bell to give Nebraska 21-3 lead with 7:12 left in the first half. Bell led the NU receivers on the day with six catches for 68 yards.
UCLA was in position to cut into the Husker lead but Fairbairn missed a 46-yard field goal wide right. The field goal was initially called good, despite sailing outside the upright about three-quarters of the way up the post.
The Bruins' high-powered offense that put up 58 points in their opener, finally found the end zone against the Blackshirts with 57 seconds left in the first half to trim the NU margin to 21-10. UCLA tried gain more momentum before heading to the locker room, forcing a three-and-out and moving into position for a long field goal attempt. But Fairbairn's 55-yard attempt to end the half was short.
The Huskers went to halftime with a 21-10 edge, but the second half belonged to Hundley and the Bruins. The sophomore quarterback finished 16-of-24 for 294 yards and three second-half touchdown passes. He also ran 19 times for 61 yards.
James Jordan led the UCLA ground game with 105 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, while Paul Perkins added the other Bruin touchdown to go along with his five carries for 22 yards.
Overall, UCLA amassed 504 total yards, including 210 on the ground and 294 through the air. The Bruins rolled up 157 rushing yards in the second half.
While playing from behind the entire first half, UCLA started fast on both sides of the ball in the second half. The Bruin defense opened with a stop of the Huskers, before marching 89 yards in 10 plays capped by a James three-yard touchdown run to cut NU's lead to 21-17 with 8:31 left in the third.
Little more than two minutes later, UCLA grabbed its first lead on a 28-yard connection between Hundley and Shaquell Evans to put the Bruins up 24-21 with 6:02 left. Evans finished with three receptions for a team-best 97 yards on the day.
The Husker offense was unable to sustain a drive and the Bruins expanded their lead to 31-21 on Hundley's 12-yard touchdown pass to Phillip Ruhl with 3:39 left in the quarter.
But the Bruins weren't done, as Nate Iese hauled in Hundley's third touchdown pass of the quarter with 0:26 left to send the Bruins to the final quarter leading 38-21. The 28 points allowed by the Huskers in the third quarter were the most in a single quarter at Memorial Stadium in history.
With the wind at their backs in the fourth quarter, the Huskers quickly marched into the red zone on their opening drive. But a fumble by Ameer Abdullah one play after a fourth-down conversion by the Huskers, ended the threat.
Nebraska was unable to put together a serious threat the rest of the way, while the Bruins tacked on a 24-yard Fairbairn field goal with 1:53 left to close the scoring.
Nebraska managed 326 total yards for the game, but just 130 in the second half, including just 43 yards on the ground after halftime. Martinez completed 21-of-35 passes for 203 yards and three touchdowns in the game. Abdullah led the NU ground game with 98 yards on 23 carries, while adding three receptions for 50 yards. But Martinez was thrown for minus-13 yards rushing on 10 attempts. No other Husker back managed 20 yards.
Nebraska continues its five-game season-opening home stand next Saturday when the Huskers play host to South Dakota State. Kickoff between NU and the Jackrabbits is set for 2:30 p.m. with a live national telecast on BTN.
Final: #16 UCLA 41, #23 Nebraska 21
Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013
Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, Neb.)
First Quarter (NEB, 14-3)
NEB - 9:45 - Quincy Enunwa 11 pass from Taylor Martinez (Pat Smith kick), 4 plays, 28 yards, 1:30 - NEB 7-0
UCLA - 7:13 - Ka'imi Fairbairn 44 FG, 8 plays, 49 yards, 2:32, NEB 7-3
NEB - 0:31 - Enunwa 14 pass from Martinez (Smith kick), 17 plays, 92 yards, 6:34, NEB 14
Second Quarter (NEB, 21-10)
NEB - 7:12 - Kenny Bell 22 pass from Martinez (Smith kick) - 2 plays, 26 yards, 0:38, NEB 21-3
UCLA - 0:57 - Paul Perkins 10 run (Fairbairn kick) - 6 plays, 59 yards, 1:27, NEB 21-10
Third Quarter (UCLA, 38-21)
UCLA - 8:31 - Jordan James 3 run (Fairbairn kick) - 10 plays, 89 yards, 3:31, NEB 21-17
UCLA - 6:02 - Shaquell Evans 28 pass from Brett Hundley (Fairbairn kick) - 4 plays, 57 yards, 1:01, UCLA 24-21
UCLA - 3:39 - Phillip Ruhl 12 pass from Hundley (Fairbairn kick) - 5 plays, 53 yards, 1:49, UCLA 31-21
UCLA - 0:26 - Nate Iese 3 pass from Hundley (Fairbairn kick) - 3 plays, 44 yards, 0:45, UCLA 38-21
Fourth Quarter (UCLA, 41-21)
UCLA - 1:53 - Fairbairn 24 field goal - 11 plays, 64 yards, 6:33, UCLA 41-21
Final: #16 UCLA 41, #23 Nebraska 21
Time of Game: 3:21
Game Start: 11:07 a.m. (central)