Football Drops First Game of the Season to Nebraska, 55-7
September 26, 1998
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - DeAngelo Evans, check. Bobby Newcombe, check.
Nebraska, operating on all cylinders for the first time this season, got three touchdowns apiece from Evans and Newcombe and the second-ranked Cornhuskers rolled to a 55-7 victory over No. 9 Washington on Saturday.
Evans, returning to the lineup for the first time since 1996, scored on runs of 60, 14 and 19 yards in the game's first 19 minutes and finished with 146 yards on 13 carries in just over 2 1/2 quarters. The 5-foot-9, 210-pound I-back missed last season with an abdominal muscle problem and was out this year with a knee injury.
Newcombe, the flashy quarterback who missed the past two games with a knee injury, scored from 3 yards out on the opening drive as the Huskers built a 35-7 halftime lead, and added a pair of 2-yard TD runs in the third quarter before leaving.
The 6-0, 190-pound Newcombe carried 14 times for 79 yards and completed 5 of 8 passes for 84 yards as Nebraska (4-0) extended the nation's longest winning streak to 18 games.
Washington (2-1) was never in the game, trailing 35-0 before a late first-half TD, and the 48-point loss was its worst since 1975, when Alabama beat the Huskies 52-0.
Evans and Newcombe had plenty of help from teammates returning from injuries. On defense, tackle Jason Wiltz was back from an ankle problem and intercepted a pass by Brock Huard to set up a TD. And end Mike Rucker, out the past two games with a groin injury, harassed Huard all day and caused him to fumble early in the third period to set up another TD.
In extending their home winning streak to 45 games, the Cornhuskers also avenged their last loss at Memorial Stadium - a 36-21 defeat by the Huskies on Sept. 21, 1991. Nebraska, which has won or shared a national title three of the past four years, also improved to 11-0 against Top 10 teams since a loss to Florida State in the 1994 Orange Bowl.
Even though the game was a match of Top 10 teams, the Huskies were no match for the Huskers in new coach Frank Solich's first "big game" test.
Huard, so eager for a second chance at Nebraska after a sprained ankle in the first quarter knocked him out of last year's 27-14 loss at Seattle, rarely had time to throw. The Huskers, playing before a crowd of 76,372 - the 223rd consecutive sellout - mixed blitzes and pass coverages so well, the left-handed quarterback either overthrew receivers or ran for his life.
Huard was 18 of 32 for 160 yards and a touchdown, with two interceptions and two fumbles before leaving in the third quarter in favor of Marques Tuiasosopo. Huard's 6-yard TD pass to Joe Jarzynka with 1:07 left in the half prevented the Huskies from being shut out for the first time since 1981.
Washington could do nothing against the Huskers. By the end of the first period, the Huskies had more penalty yards (65) than total yards (57). By halftime, the Huskers had 327 yards to Washington's 168 and the outcome had been decided.
Nebraska's 1-2 punch didn't take long to warm up. On the Huskers' first play, Newcombe ran 24 yards, but a holding penalty negated the gain. Undeterred, he scrambled for 9, then 13 yards to the 30 before Evans broke a 12-yarder. Newcombe's first pass went for 12 yards to Matt Davison, fullback Joel Makovicka ran 17 yards to the Huskies 3, and Newcombe ran it in from there just 4:23 into the game.
Then it was Evans' turn.
On Nebraska's next possession, the I-back took a pitch from Newcombe and ran 60 yards for a TD, getting a nice block from wide receiver Kenny Cheatham at the Huskies' 40 and then bulling past cornerback Jermaine Smith at the 3 and into the end zone.
The Huskers defense, criticized for inconsistent play in their first three games, got into the act, too. Wiltz, who missed the last two games with an ankle injury, intercepted a pass by Huard and the Huskers were in business at the Washington 22.
After Makovicka ran 8 yards, Evans took a pitchout, bowled over linebacker Lester Towns at the 10-yard line and then finished off a 14-yard scoring run, putting the Huskers ahead 21-0 just 12 minutes into the game.
Evans' 19-yard TD run - with 10:59 left in the half - extended the lead to 28-0 before his backup, Correll Buckhalter, scored on a 3-yard run with 5:12 left in the half.
Starting the second half, Huard lost two fumbles and Makovicka one, but Huard's second fumble at the Washington 4 was turned into a 2-yard TD run by Newcombe. Newcombe added his final TD with 5:58 left in the third quarter, and Willie Miller closed out the scoring with a 1-yard scoring run with six seconds left in the third quarter.
By RICHARD ROSENBLATT