Huskers Run Past Wildcats in Manhattan

By NU Athletic Communications
Joe Ganz became the second quarterback in Nebraska history to throw for 3,000 yards in a season with a big day against Kansas State.
Joe Ganz became the second quarterback in Nebraska history to throw for 3,000 yards in a season with a big day against Kansas State.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Lincoln - Joe Ganz rushed for a career-high 95 yards while adding 270 yards through the air to lead a balanced Nebraska offense in the Huskers' 56-28 victory over Kansas State on Saturday in Manhattan, Kan.

Ganz scored twice on the ground and threw for two more scores, while directing a Nebraska offense that amassed over 600 total yards. His 270 yards passing gave him 3,103 yards through the air this season, as he joined Zac Taylor as the only quarterbacks in school history to throw for 3,000 yards in a single season. Ganz is now just 95 yards shy of passing Taylor's school-record total of 3,197 yards established in 2006. Ganz also completed 16-of-25 passes on the day to give him 247 pass completions in 2008, good for a new Nebraska record. Taylor held the previous record of 237 completions in 2005.

Nate Swift was Ganz's favorite target, catching four balls for 98 yards, just missing his second straight 100-yard receiving game. The senior from Hutchinson, Minn., has now totaled 899 receiving yards on the season and 2,434 yards in his career. He needs just 44 yards to break Johnny Rodgers' school record for most receiving yards in a career and only 46 yards to pass Rodgers for first place on the Husker career receiving chart.

While Ganz and Swift neared Nebraska passing and receiving records, the Huskers' rushing game was the highlight of Saturday's strong offensive performance. Ganz rushed for a game-high 95 yards on only 11 carries as NU finished with a season-high 340 yards rushing. Roy Helu Jr. added 72 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries, while Marcus Mendoza tallied 58 yards, Quentin Castille added 51 yards, while Marlon Lucky finished with 47 yards.

The strong ground game propelled Nebraska to its fourth win in its last five games. The Huskers (7-4, 4-3 Big 12) evened their away record at 2-2 in their final road contest, while moving above .500 in conference play for the first time since September of 2007. Kansas State, which was eliminated from bowl consideration with the loss, fell to 4-7 on the season and 1-6 in the league. The Wildcats managed just 247 total yards, as 14 of their 28 points came courtesy of defensive and special teams touchdowns.

After an inauspicious start, the first half belonged to Nebraska. The Huskers ran for more than 100 yards in the first quarter alone and scored three touchdowns in the second quarter en route to building a 21-point halftime advantage. Despite the Huskers' dominating effort, Kansas State used two big plays to keep the game from turning completely in Nebraska's favor.

The first big play came courtesy of Courtney Herndon, who gave K-State an early 7-0 lead when he picked off a tipped Ganz pass and returned it 57 yards for the game's first score.

The Huskers immediately put the turnover behind them, using a strong ground game to tie the game 7-7 midway through the first quarter. NU rushed for 44 yards on its 73-yard touchdown drive, with Helu carrying the ball five times for 27 yards, including a one-yard touchdown run.

Nebraska then grabbed its first lead after the Blackshirts forced a Wildcat punt. Ganz opened NU's ensuing drive by completing consecutive passes for 25 and 11 yards, respectively. The Huskers then found the end zone by rushing four straight times for 48 yards. The six-play, 81-yard drive was capped by Castille's 36-yard touchdown run on a 4th-and-1 play.

The second quarter started in much the same fashion as the first, as Kansas State scored a quick touchdown on a big play. Facing a 3rd-and-13 from its own 37, quarterback Josh Freeman found Ernie Pierce down the middle for a 63-yard touchdown to tie the game just 53 seconds into the period.

K-State then forced a Nebraska punt, but the Huskers recovered a fumble on the return at the KSU 30. NU quickly took advantage of the short field as Helu ran for his second touchdown of the game. Helu rushed right for six yards on the first play following the turnover, before racing 24 yards for the go-ahead touchdown on his next carry.

The Huskers made it a two-touchdown lead after a defensive 3-and-out and a 25-yard Swift punt return set NU up at the K-State 35-yard line. Ganz found Todd Peterson for a 19-yard gain on the first play and capped the drive by hooking up with Peterson again on a five-yard touchdown strike with 7:05 remaining in the half.

The scoring pace then slowed down until the Huskers scored their third unanswered touchdown when Ganz found Mike McNeill for an 18-yard touchdown pass with 44 seconds left until halftime. K-State threatened to pull closer before the break, but the first half ended when Freeman fired an incomplete pass on 2nd-and-10 from the NU 12 yard line as the clock expired.

A pair of punts welcomed the start of the third quarter, before the Huskers mounted a nice drive. NU opened the drive with consecutive gains of 19, 13 and 19 yards to quickly move down to the KSU 19. A pair of costly penalties pushed Nebraska back and forced another punt.

Kansas State backup quarterback Carson Coffman then stepped in to lead the Wildcats on a 92-yard touchdown drive. Coffman completed both of his passes on the drive for 68 yards. The Blackshirts stiffened near the goal line before K-State punched it in from one yard out on fourth down. Coffman appeared to be stopped on his quarterback sneak when the referees blew the play dead, but the replay booth ruled that Coffman was not down and K-State was awarded a touchdown.

With the Wildcats back within two touchdowns, Ganz took control on the Huskers' next drive to put NU back in front by three touchdowns. Ganz had a hand in every yard of Nebraska's 84-yard touchdown drive. He completed two passes for 35 yards and carried the ball five times for 49 yards, including a 25-yard TD run.

K-State got the points right back however, as Brandon Banks took the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown to pull the Wildcats to with 42-28.

Ganz came right back again to lead the Huskers on another long touchdown drive in his final action of the game. Ganz found Swift twice on the drive for a total of 59 yards, including a key third-down pickup. Ganz then kept the ball for a 14-yard rushing touchdown, his second of the game.

The Blackshirts then gave the ball back to the offense at the KSU 43 after stopping the Wildcats short on a fourth-down play. Patrick Witt came in to quarterback the offense and Mendoza covered 21 yards on three consecutive carries to open the drive. Castille then added a carry for 10 yards before a fumble gave the ball back to KSU at the 16 yard line. 

NU stopped the Wildcats on fourth down again following the turnover. Mendoza then finished the scoring with a 31-yard touchdown run that capped a 49-yard touchdown drive.

Nebraska is off next weekend before closing the regular season at home against Colorado on Friday, Nov. 28. That game will be televised nationally on ABC at 2:30 p.m.

Scoring (Nebraska 56, Kansas State 28)
Nov. 15, 2008
Bill Snyder Family Stadium (Manhattan, Kan.)
Attendance: 48,444

First Quarter (Nebraska 14, Kansas State 7)
 Courtney Herndon 57 interception return (Brooks Rossmann kick), 11:51
NU - Roy Helu Jr. 1 run (Alex Henery kick), 7:13
NU - Quentin Castille 37 run (Henery kick), 2:28

Second Quarter (Nebraska 35, Kansas State 14)
Ernie Pierce 63 pass from Josh Freeman (Rossman kick), 14:07
NU - Helu 24 run (Henery kick), 11:33
NU - Todd Peterson 5 pass from Joe Ganz (Henery kick), 7:05
NU - Mike McNeill 18 pass from Ganz (Henery kick), 0:44

Third Quarter (Nebraska 35, Kansas State 21)
 Carson Coffman 1 run (Rossman kick), 2:52

Fourth Quarter (Nebraska 56, Kansas State 28)
 Ganz 25 run (Henery kick), 14:47
KSU - Brandon Banks 98 kickoff return (Rossman kick), 14:33
NU - Ganz 14 run (Henery kick), 11:57
NU - Marcus Mendoza 31 run (Henery kick), 3:05


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