|Barrett Ruud was one of the many blackshirt heroes, returning an interception for a touchdown in the first half.|
Lincoln -- The Nebraska Blackshirts were back to their ball-hawking ways on Saturday, forcing a school-record tying eight Texas A&M turnovers that led to 35 points in the No. 18 Huskers’ 48-12 win over Texas A&M at Memorial Stadium.
In front of the NCAA-record 260th-consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium, the defense picked off five passes, recovered three fumbles and produced three sacks to propel Nebraska to its 35th-consecutive Homecoming win. The eight turnovers tied the school record which has been accomplished several times in school history, most recently against Colorado State in 1991.
After Texas A&M got on the board with a first-quarter field goal, Nebraska erupted for 34 unanswered points, sparked by a Husker defense that put the clamps down on an Aggie offense that had rolled for 739 total offense yards in a 73-10 win over Baylor last week. The Blackshirts limited the Aggies to 244 total yards on Saturday.
Nebraska’s offense got rolling on their second drive of the day, marching 51 yards in seven plays capped by a Jammal Lord 22-yard touchdown run to give Nebraska a 6-3 lead. It was the first of two rushing touchdowns of the day, who carried 15 times for 109 yards, his third 100-yard rushing game of the season and eighth of his career.
After Nebraska’s first score, the Blackshirts set the tone for the rest of the day. Sophomore free safety Josh Bullocks pulled down his school-record tying seventh interception of the season on Texas A&M’s first play of the ensuing drive to set Nebraska up at the A&M 33-yard line.
It was Bullocks’ fourth consecutive game with an interception and tied Nebraska’s season record with Bill Kosch (1970), Dana Stephenson (1969) and Larry Wachholtz (1966).
Nebraska converted five plays later on David Horne’s one-yard touchdown run to give the Huskers a 13-3 lead. Horne’s first carry of second quarter put him over the 1,000-yard career rushing mark, to become the 53rd Husker to reach that mark. Horne finished the day with 86 yards on 14 carries.
On A&M’s next drive, the Blackshirts struck again. Junior linebacker Barrett Ruud grabbed his first-career interception and raced 27 yards for the touchdown, his second touchdown of the season, to give Nebraska a 20-3 cushion with 1:45 in the first quarter.
Ruud picked up his sixth tackle of the game in the third quarter to tie him for 23rd on the Nebraska career tackles chart with his father, Tom Ruud.
Demorrio Williams recovered his third fumble on the season, which was caused by Benard Thomas, and tied Barrett and Tom Ruud for the NU record for fumble recoveries by a linebacker in a season. The fumble came in the second quarter when A&M was driving down the field and had accumulated 66 yards on four plays, including 28- and 21-yard runs by Jason Carter.
The Blackshirts picked up their third interception of the game with 6:36 remaining in the second quarter by Lornell McPherson on a deflected pass break up by Trevor Johnson but the offense could not convert and the Nebraska went to the locker room with a 20-3 lead.
Just five minutes into the second half, the Blackshirts struck again, with Ruud causing a McNeal fumble, which was picked up by LeKevin Smith and set up a Josh Davis 12-yard touchdown run, to increase the lead to 27 points after the PAT.
Lord ran for his second touchdown of the day, going 33 yards and improving the Husker lead to 34-3 with 8:06 remaining in the third quarter to cap a three-play, 55-yard drive.
Texas A&M added three points with a field goal by Todd Pegram with 3:35 remaining in the third quarter, completing an 11-play, 67-yard drive.
On A&M’s next drive, Daniel Bullocks caused the seventh turnover of the afternoon, when he caused a Derek Farmer fumble and recovered it at the NU 18-yard line. The Huskers finished it off on a 29-yard touchdown pass by Joe Dailey to Isaiah Fluellen, his second career touchdown catch.
The Blackshirts capped the game with a three-yard interception return for touchdown by Titus Adams with 3:09 remaining. A&M returned the ensuing kickoff 89 yards, but Jerrell Pippens blocked the extra point try, giving NU the 48-12 final advantage.
The Huskers have converted 28 opponent turnovers into 89 points this season. Last season, the Huskers scored just 48 points off opponent turnovers in 14 games.
Nebraska finished with 384 total yards, including 333 on the ground. The Huskers completed a season-low three passes in the contest, two by Lord and one by Dailey.
Nebraska will return to Memorial Stadium next Saturday to face Iowa State.