Whites Roll to 42-14 Win over Reds
Lincoln - Quarterback Zac Taylor threw for a Spring Game record 357 yards in the first half to power the Whites to a 42-14 win over the Reds in front of a Red-White Game record crowd of 63,416 that included more than 20 former Huskers currently in the NFL at Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Taylor, a 6-2 native of Norman, Okla., and a transfer from Butler County Community College, completed 20-of-27 passes and tossed a trio of touchdown strikes in the opening half to power the Huskers' top offensive unit to a 42-7 halftime advantage. Taylor's 357 passing yards shattered the previous mark set last spring by Joe Dailey with 241 yards for the Reds in 2004.
The 366 yards passing by the Whites also surpassed the previous Spring Game mark of 354 yards set last season by the Reds.
Terrence Nunn and Isaiah Fluellen provided Taylor with his two favorite targets on the day. Nunn hauled in four receptions for a game-high 133 yards, including touchdown receptions of 53 and 34 yards. Fluellen added six catches for 106 yards, including a 50-yard reception in the first quarter.
Nebraska Coach Bill Callahan, entering his second season at the helm for the Huskers, said the game provided a glimpse of Taylor's talents.
"We have talked about his ability to throw deep all spring," Callahan said. "He has the big play arm and the ability to make big plays, so we wanted to feature that today. He has great location and accuracy and handled the situations extremely well and functioned smoothly."
Taylor, who was making his first appearance in front of Nebraska's fans at Memorial Stadium, said the electricity in the stadium made him both excited and nervous before the opening kickoff.
"It was a lot of fun. It is pretty crazy. The people of Nebraska are great," Taylor said. "The 63,000 fans is incredible and shows how much they care about football. It was amazing. I got chills in the tunnel. I was a little nervous during the first play, just like in high school."
Taylor's nerves certainly did not show in the first two drives for the Whites. Taylor set the tone on the first two possessions, marching the the Huskers' first team down the field for a pair of first-quarter scoring drives by completing 11-of-12 pass for 116 yards.
On the opening drive, Taylor went 5-fo-5 for 73 yards through the air, capped by a 34-yard scroing strike to Nunn to give the Whites a 7-0 lead just three minutes into the game.
After the top defensive unit held the Reds on their opening possession, Taylor completed 6-of-7 passes for 43 yards on the White team's second drive, puncuated by Cory Ross' one-yard scoring plunge to make it 14-0 midway through the first quarter.
The White defense held again, and the offense opened its third drive with a 50-yard connection between Taylor and Fluellen to put the Whites inside the Red 10-yard line. The Red defense held on that drive, but the White defense forced another three-and-out to set up Taylor's 53-yard touchdown strike to Nunn on the White team's fourth drive to make it 21-0.
Taylor added a 22-yard scoring pass to Tyler Kenney on the White team's next drive for a commanding 28-0 lead just five seconds into the second quarter.
The Red team produced its lone highlight of the first half by marching 51 yards on 11 plays, capped by a Beau Davis to Grant Mulkey four-yard touchdown pass with 9:52 left in the half.
Daniel Bullocks provided the biggest defensive play of the day on the Red team's next drive by picking off a Joe Dailey pass and sprinting down the right sideline 58 yards for a touchdown to extend the White team's edge back to 28 points at 35-7 with 5:42 to play in the second quarter.
Ross then capped the White team's scoring on the day with his 34-yard scoring run with 3:29 left to make it 42-7. Ross led all rushers on the afternoon by producing 67 yards on 12 carries, including a pair of touchdowns.
Marque McCray added the lone touchdown for either team in the second half with his one-yard plunge with 9:22 left in the fourth quarter, as the two teams played with a continuous clock in the second half.
On the day, the White defense surrendered just three rushing yards to the Reds. The top defensive unit allowed the Reds to complete just 18-of-45 pass attempts for 240 yards.
Dailey led the Reds through the air with 121 yards, but completed just 7-of-20 passes with an interception. Davis completed 7-of-14 attempts for 60 yards, with one touchdown.
The White team's victory snapped a six-game winning streak by the Reds in NU's annual spring game. The last victory for the Whites came in 1998 with a 24-21 win. The Reds still own a commanding series lead at 31-14-1.
Nebraska's Spring Game record crowd of 63,416 surpassed the previous mark of 61,417 fans set last season at Memorial Stadium, and helped provide an exciting conclusion to the Huskers' 2005 spring drills. NU opened spring practice with the first of 15 sessions on March 23.
Callahan said the huge Husker crowd and exciting atmosphere helped the NU program in a variety of ways.
"It means a lot to us and in the recruiting aspect," Callahan said. "Today was invaluable in so many senses. It was a game-like situation and a great atmosphere. It was a very productive day. We came out and accomplished what we wanted to get done."
The Nebraska crowd included an impressive array of former Huskers in the NFL, including: Ahman Green (Green Bay); Mike Minter (Carolina); Mike Rucker (Carolina); Russ Hochstein (New England); Dominic Raiola (Detroit); John Parrella (Oakland); Adam Treu (Oakland); Zach Wiegert (Houston); Jay Foreman (Houston); Toniu Fonoti (San Diego); Josh Brown (Seattle); Kyle Larson (Cincinnati); Ralph Brown (Minnesota); Demorrio Williams (Atlanta); Carlos Polk (San Diego); Josh Sewell (Denver); Scott Shanle (Dallas), DeJuan Groce (St. Louis); Trevor Johnson (New York Jets); Eric Johnson (Atlanta); Jammal Lord (Houston); Jerrell Pippens (San Diego); Erwin Swiney (Green Bay); T.J. Hollowell (New York Giants).
The contingent of NFL stars was introduced one by one to the Memorial Stadium crowd before the game and preceded the Huskers' charge out of the tunnel for the start of the game.
Nebraska is scheduled to open its 2005 fall schedule with Maine on Sept. 3. The game against the Black Bears will be the first of five consecutive home games at Memorial Stadium to open the season.