Purple Pounding: Martinez, Huskers Roar Past 'Cats
Manhattan, Kan. - Freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez produced the best rushing performance by a quarterback in Nebraska football history as the No. 7 Cornhuskers sprinted past previously unbeaten Kansas State, 48-13 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Thursday night.
Playing in front of 51,015 fans and an ESPN primetime national audience, Martinez became just the second Big Red signal-caller to rush for more than 200 yards in a game, joining Jammal Lord who accomplished the feat twice in 2002. In fact, the freshman from Corona, Calif., passed the 200-yard mark on NU's opening drive of the second half with an 80-yard touchdown run to stake the Huskers to a 24-3 lead.
Martinez finished the night with the eighth-best rushing total in school history with 241 yards on just 15 carries (16.1 yards per carry), surpassing Lord's NU quarterback rushing mark of 234 yards against Texas on Nov. 2, 2002. Martinez also had four touchdowns with runs of 13, 35, 80 and 41 yards. He completed 5-of-7 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown, compiling a career-best 369 total-offense yards to match the 11th-best mark in school history, despite leaving the game for good with more than 10 minutes remaining to give way to Cody Green. It was the most total offense yards by a freshman in school history.
The Wildcats, who slipped to 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the Big 12, could not match Martinez, as Nebraska improved to 5-0 by winning its Big 12 opener and improving to 6-0 all-time in Thursday night ESPN contests.
Martinez's performance, which marked his fourth 100-yard rushing effort in five career starts, also vaulted him to No. 4 on NU's single-season freshman rushing list at 737 yards. He also has 12 touchdowns already this season, and he needs just two more to match the NU freshman rushing mark in that category.
The dominance of the young quarterback set up his fellow Huskers for big plays as the game progressed. On NU's next play from scrimmage after Martinez's 80-yard burst, he handed off to Roy Helu Jr. and the senior I-back exploded for a career-long 68-yard touchdown run. That carry pushed Helu over the 100-yard for the third time this season, giving the Huskers their third double-100-yard game with Helu and Martinez (Idaho and Washington). Helu, who notched his 10th career 100-yard effort, finished with 110 yards on just eight carries.
Kansas State tried to hang with the Huskers and mustered a 48-yard Josh Cherry field, his second long field goal of the night after a short KSU drive, to trim the margin to 31-6 with 1:48 left in the third quarter.
But on NU's second play of the ensuing drive, Martinez froze the Wildcat secondary on a play-action fake and connected with tight end Kyler Reed on a career-long 79-yard touchdown strike to push the Husker advantage to 38-3 at the end of three quarters.
If the long runs didn't deliver the knockout blows to the Wildcat hopes, the long pass play certainly did. By the end of three quarters, Nebraska rolled to 475 yards of total offense on just 34 snaps, an astounding 14-yard per play average. The Huskers racked up 347 rushing yards on 28 carries (12.8 ypc) while Martinez completed 5-of-6 passes for 128 yards (21.3 ypr) through the first 45 minutes.
Martinez and the Huskers kept it going on their opening drive of the fourth quarter, as the speedster added to his massive rushing total with a 41-yard touchdown run with 12:20 left to push NU's lead to 45-6. His run came after a nine-yard sack by the K-State defense dropped his total to 200 yards, but a KSU personal foul for a blow to the head on Martinez after the whistle had blown still moved the Huskers up the field.
While the Huskers' explosive offense left the purple pride black and blue, Nebraska's Blackshirts continued to deliver solid defensive football for four quarters. The Blackshirts stretched their streak to eight straight quarters without allowing a touchdown before KSU quarterback Carson Coffman connected with Chris Harper on a two-yard pass early in the fourth quarter to make it 45-13.
Junior linebacker Lavonte David led the Blackshirts with 16 tackles, including 10 solos and tackles for loss with one seven-yard sack. David helped keep KSU star running back Daniel Thomas in check. Thomas notched 63 yards on 22 carries, while adding 36 receiving yards on eight catches. Overall, he totaled 99 yards on 30 touches.
DeJon Gomes added 12 tackles, including a TFL and a forced fumble, while Eric Hagg contributed an interception for the Blackshirts to produce the game's lone turnover. The Huskers finished with six tackles for loss and two sacks.
Nebraska finished the night with 587 yards of total offense on 52 plays, including 451 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 42 carries. KSU managed 315 total yards on 71 plays while controlling the time of possession (34:31). The Wildcats had 180 rushing yards (44 carries) and 135 yards passing (27 attempts).
Martinez opened the scoring with a 14-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter to give NU a 7-0 lead. After Cherry narrowed the margin with 8:47 left in the half on a 46-yard field goal, Martinez exploded for a 35-yard touchdown run on a perfectly executed zone read, where he pulled the ball back from I-back Rex Burkhead and sprinted untouched down the right side to paydirt. Alex Henery added his first of two field goals on the night to push NU's lead to 17-3 at the half.
By halftime, Martinez had amassed 129 rushing yards and a pair of scores, while completing all four of his passes for 49 yards.
Nebraska begins Big 12 home action on Saturday, Oct. 16, when the Huskers welcome Texas to Memorial Stadium. Kickoff with the Longhorns is set for 2:30 p.m. with a live telecast on ABC.
Final: #7 Nebraska 48, Kansas State 13
Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010
Bill Snyder Family Stadium (Manhattan, Kan.)
First Quarter (7-0)
NU - 6:22 - Taylor Martinez 14 run (Alex Henery kick) - 8 plays, 76 yards, 3:28, NU 7-0
Second Quarter (NU, 17-3)
KSU - 8:47 - Josh Cherry 46 field goal - 7 plays, 23 yards, 3:38, NU 7-3
NU - 3:54 - Martinez 35 run (Henery kick) - 8 plays, 87 yards, 4:53, NU 14-3
NU - 0:26 - Henery 39 field goal - 5 plays, 62 yards, 1:41, NU 17-3
Third Quarter (NU, 31-6)
NU - 14:02 - Martinez 80 run (Henery kick) - 3 plays, 80 yards, 0:58, NU 24-3
NU - 11:22 - Roy Helu Jr. 68 run (Henery kick) - 1 play, 68 yards, 0:10, NU 31-3
KSU - 1:48 - Cherry 48 field goal - 6 plays, 27 yards, 3:45, NU 31-6
NU - 1:00 - Kyler Reed 79 pass from Martinez (Henery kick) - 2 plays, 80 yards, 0:48, NU 38-6
Fourth Quarter (NU 48-13)
NU - 12:20 - Martinez 41 run (Henery kick) - 7 plays, 76 yards, 2:22, NU 45-6
KSU - 9:57 - Chris Harper 2 pass from Carson Coffman (Cherry kick) - 6 plays, 48 yards, 2:23, NU 45-13
NU - 4:30 - Henery 40 field goal - 12 plays, 51 yards, 5:27, NU 48-13
Final: #7 Nebraska 48, Kansas State 13
Time of Game: 3:11