Lincoln - Joe Ganz and Marlon Lucky teamed up to make history and the Nebraska football team played a complete game to improve to 3-0 on the season with a 38-7 win over New Mexico State at Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.
Playing in front of the NCAA-record 292nd consecutive sellout with 84,821 fans at Memorial Stadium and an FSN pay-per-view television audience, Ganz became just the third Nebraska player in history to score touchdowns by run, pass and catch in the same game. Ganz, a senior quarterback from Palos Heights, Ill., joined Heisman Trophy winners Johnny Rodgers (1973 Orange Bowl vs. Notre Dame) and Eric Crouch (vs. California, 1999) in that prestigious group.
Ganz joined the select club by connecting with tight end Mike McNeill on a 35-yard touchdown pass with 5:01 left in the third quarter to give the Huskers a 35-0 lead over New Mexico State (0-1). It was Ganz's fifth touchdown throw of the season and 21st of his career.
Ganz added a career-long 33-yard touchdown run to put NU up 21-0 at halftime, after teaming with Lucky on the game's biggest highlight earlier in the quarter.
After NU senior cornerback Armando Murillo intercepted a Chase Holbrook pass and returned it 57 yards, Lucky hit Ganz on a 20-yard touchdown pass on the ensuing play to give Nebraska a 14-0 lead with 12:52 left in the half.
While Lucky helped Ganz make history by tossing the third touchdown pass of his career, Lucky did plenty of damage of his own with his legs. The senior I-back from North Hollywood, Calif., notched the eighth 100-yard rushing game of his career while becoming the 24th running back in Nebraska history to cross the 2,000-yard mark in his career.
Lucky reached the 2,000-yard plateau with a career-long 58-yard run on the second play from scrimmage of the second half. Lucky accounted for the final 16 yards of the drive as well, capping a six-play, 76-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge to put NU up 28-0 over the Aggies with 12 minutes left in the third quarter.
Lucky, who finished with a season-high 103 yards rushing and two touchdowns on just 15 carries in just three quarters, and Ganz, who added 69 yards on just five totes in three quarters, helped the Huskers roll for a season-high 330 rushing yards on 44 carries. Overall, NU amassed 553 yards of total offense, as Ganz completed 13-of-17 passes for 158 yards on the night, while Patrick Witt connected on 3-of-4 attempts for 40 more yards in his most extensive playing time of his career in the fourth quarter.
While Ganz and Lucky provided the Huskers with plenty of offensive highlights, Nebraska's defense and special teams played big roles in the Huskers' pitching a shutout through the first three quarters.
Senior defensive end Zach Potter provided the game's biggest special teams play with his blocked field goal to stop New Mexico State's opening drive of the game. It was Potter's third career blocked kick, and second career field goal block. Potter's block forced the Aggies to walk away empty-handed after marching inside the NU 5. Potter added three tackles on the night, including a sack to help the Husker defensive line wreak havoc on New Mexico State quarterbacks.
After Murillo provided the game's biggest defensive play with his first career interception early in the second quarter, Nebraska continued to dominate. The Huskers forced a trio of New Mexico State fumbles that were not lost, while also notching four tackles for loss, including a trio of sacks.
Nebraska's defensive pursuit of Holbrook reached a fever pitch late in the third quarter when the Aggies advanced to the NU 2 after a pass interference call on fourth down. The Huskers registered a pair of sacks, including big losses by Ndamukong Suh and Potter to push the Aggies outside of the NU 20, before another pass interference call gave NMSU new life. But Matt O'Hanlon's first career interception ended that Aggie drive to keep the shutout out alive for three quarters.
However, on the Huskers' first drive of the fourth quarter, the Huskers fumbled near midfield. Marvin Betts scooped up the fumble and sprinted 48 yards to the NU 3 before being knocked out of bounds by Helu.
The Huskers lost the shutout on the next play when Marquell Colston scored on a three-yard run to give the Aggies their first touchdown in their season-opening game, while also providing their first-ever points in the three-game series with Nebraska. In 1979 and 1982, the Huskers combined to beat the Aggies, 125-0 in two games. Colston led the Aggies with 45 yards rushing on eight carries.
New Mexico State finished with 339 yards of total offense, including 114 on the ground and 225 through the air. Holbrook completed 15-of-30 passes for 142 yards but was intercepted twice, while J.J. McDermott completed 4-of-8 passes for 83 yards including a late 55-yard completion.
Nebraska will enjoy a weekend off next Saturday, before continuing its five-game season-opening home stand with a Big 12-ACC showdown with perennial power Virginia Tech on Saturday, Sept. 27 at Memorial Stadium. Game time and television information for the game with the Hokies has not yet been announced. Check Huskers.com for more information during the week.
Scoring (Nebraska 38, New Mexico State 7)
Saturday, Sept. 13, 2008
Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, Neb.)
First Quarter (Nebraska 7, New Mexico State 0)
NU - Marlon Lucky 8 run (Alex Henery kick), 0:13
Second Quarter (Nebraska 21, New Mexico State 0)
NU - Joe Ganz 20 pass from Marlon Lucky (Henery kick), 12:52
NU - Ganz 33 run (Henery kick), 7:11
Third Quarter (Nebraska 28, New Mexico State 0)
NU - Lucky 1 run (Henery kick), 12:01
NU - Mike McNeill 35 pass from Ganz (Henery kick), 5:01
Fourth Quarter (Nebraska 38, New Mexico State 7)
NM - Marquell Colston 3 run (Kyle Hughes kick), 12:31
NU - Henery 19 FG, 8:15