Texas Defeats Nebraska 24-20
Austin, Texas (Ticker) -- A major turnaround in the second half allowed Texas to keep Nebraska's number No. 18 Texas defeated the third-tanked Huskers 24-20 Saturday.
Major Applewhite shook off a poor opening 30 minutes to complete 8-of-9 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns in the second half as No. 18 Texas knocked third-ranked Nebraska from the ranks of the unbeaten, 24-20.
Applewhite found tight end Mike Jones with an 18-yard scoring strike with 5:51 to play and the defense held tough down the stretch as the Longhorns defeated the Cornhuskers for the third time in as many meetings since the two joined the Big 12 Conference.
The loss was particularly tough for Nebraska, which had designs on a national championship after opening the season 6-0. The Cornhuskers have not lost three straight games to a single opponent since dropping four consecutive meetings to Florida State between 1987-1993.
Texas (6-2, 3-1 Big 12 South) enhanced its chances at a berth in the Big 12 Conference title game and a spot in a Bowl Championship Series game. Nebraska (6-1, 3-1 North) could still win the North Division title by winning the rest of its conference games, including a showdown with leader Kansas State on November 13.
Texas got off to a good start, taking the opening kickoff and moving to the Nebraska 27. But Kris Stockton had his 44-yard field goal attempt bounce off the left upright. Stockton quickly made ammends when Nebraska fumbled on its next possession and the Longhorn kicker converted a 43-yard attempt.
The quarter ended 3-0 and the game remained that way until Josh Brown's 22-yard field goal with 6:21 to go in the half. The Cornhuskers took their first lead of the game 4:09 later when a flea-flicker that resulted in a 33-yard gain set up a 32-yard field goal by Brown.
A short punt by Ryan Long and a 15-yard return by Bobby Newcombe set up the first touchdown of the game. Eric Crouch found Correll Buckhalter with a 26-yard pass and Buckhalter made it 13-3 by taking an option pitch and rumbling five yards for the score.
Applewhite was just 9-of-21 for 47 yards in the opening half while Crouch was 7-of-10 for 121 yards.
Nebraska opened the second half with the ball and got pinned deep in its own end. Texas took advantage on its first possession of the third quarter, needing just four plays to score its first touchdown. After a run went nowhere, Applewhite found running back Hodges Mitchell with a screen pass that went 36 yards to the 2. Chris Robertson ran for one yard before plunging over on the next play to draw Texas within 13-10.
Robertson has six rushing touchdowns on 12 carries this season. Overall, he has seven touchdowns on 13 plays from scrimmage this year. It also marked the first rushing touchdown allowed by Nebraska's first team defense in 1999.
The Cornhuskers tried to extend their lead late in the third quarter, going for a first down on 4th-and-2 from the Texas 38. But Crouch fumbled the option pitch and the Longhorns took over near midfield. Applewhite and Kwame Cavil then combined to cover the field on three straight plays.
Applewhite found Cavil for 18 yards, then near the right sideline for 27 more before capping the drive with a 13-yard slant pass. The touchdown put Texas on top 17-13 with two minutes left in the third quarter.
Cavil finished with eight receptions for 84 yards and his 58 catches this season tie Wane McGarity's team record set in 1998.
Nebraska quickly drove into scoring position and had 1st-and-goal early in the fourth quarter. Dan Alexander got the call on 3rd-and-goal from the 4 but as he was stretching the ball towards the end zone he lost control and Texas recovered.
The Cornhuskers defense came up with a quick stop and the offense rebounded with a four play, 44-yard drive that culminated in a nine-yard scoring run by Crouch. Brown converted the extra point with 7:52 remaining to put Nebraska on top, 20-17.
Jeremy Jones returned the ensuing kickoff 25 yards and Nebraska was whistled for a facemask putting Texas at its own 40. Applewhite found Ryan Nunez for a 39-yard gain and, after two runs netted three yards, swung a pass to his tight end Jones, who rumbled into the end zone for a 24-20 lead.
Nebraska took over at its 35 and drove to the Texas 38 before pressure by linebacker Anthony Hicks resulted in a pair of incompletions to end the threat.
Crouch was 12-of-20 for a career high 204 yards while Alexander finished with a career best 136 yards on 21 carries. Mitchell paced the Texas ground attack with 83 yards on 20 carries.
Nebraska Postgame Notes vs. Texas, Oct. 23, 1999
* In a down-to-the-wire game, the No. 3 Nebraska Cornhuskers were defeated by No. 18 Texas in Austin, 24-20. The lead changed five times with Nebraska leading 13-3 at halftime. Texas scored first on a field goal, to mark just the second time this year NU has trailed in a game (also vs. Southern Miss, NU won 20-13). Nebraska answered UT