The Lincoln Star from Lincoln, Nebraska on November 30, 1991 · 19
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The Lincoln Star from Lincoln, Nebraska · 19

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Saturday, November 30, 1991
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19
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Lincoln Journal-Star Page 1 9 n n lead niair DsamniD Saturday, November 30, 1991 BP HusKers ed to OU couldn't respond in big game Sooners impressed with Huskers' play. By Curt McKeever Lincoln Journal-Star The team that cant win a big game? Oklahoma has to shoulder that criticism for another year following Friday's 19-14 loss to Nebraska. "That would be a correct thing to say," Sooner tailback Mike Gaddis said. "I mean, we haven't won one. I don't know if we can't win one, we just haven't." In three years under Coach Gary Gibbs, the Sooners are now 1-8 in games that matter most to OU faithful. Those are games against Texas, Colorado and Nebraska. "It is a frustrating season," OU Z-back Ted Long said. "I'm tired of losing the big games. We're so hyped. Before some games, some guys are crying before the game they want to win so bad. and I'm pretty much tired of losing the big game." Friday's contest fit into that category, and the result left Nebraska 2-1-1 against ranked teams this season. "I thought over the last four games, Oklahoma was better than it was against Texas and Colorado, and was better than Colorado," said NU Coach Tom Osborne, whose teams, prior to this season, had lost five straight games to ranked opponents. "I thought this was a big game. If Oklahoma had won and beaten Alabama in the Blockbuster Bowl, then it would have been considered a big win. Since we won. it probably won't be seen as that big a game." OKLAHOMA WAS IMPRESSED with the Cornhuskers. however. "They certainly controlled the tempo, and offensively controlled the entire second half," Sooner Coach Gary Gibbs said. "You've got to give Nebraska a lot of credit for the way they responded and drove 80 yards on what we consider a very fine Oklahoma defense to win the football game." Nebraska finished with 398 total yards against the nation's fifth-ranked defense. The Cornhuskers had 227 of those yards in the second half, when they scored on three of their first four possessions and converted five of eight third-downsituations. "They just established the line of scrimmage and were able to run the football," Gibbs said. "We settled down after the First drive and started making some plays, but they made the key plays when they needed it." OU nose guard Corey Mayfield agreed. "We have a heck of a defense, so you have to give them credit," he said. "They came out and popped it inside, and then they started running the outside. And they've got good, fast backs. They got the best of us." DEFENSIVE TACKLE Stacey Dillard said Nebraska was the best offense the Sooners had faced this season. "It seemed like their coaches must have cussed them out because they came out pretty strong in the second half," Dillard said. "I was definitely surprised. I thought we were going to shut them down. We had them third-and-long a couple of times and we just broke down when we should've Please turn to: OU. Page 23 ease turn to: OU. Page - COIOR . t 1 Jl'f f JS jkj ' : : Ml " ' V ;- ' "J l:x 4 : imii -) imi tirriiiiiimrrmiiiiiiiifiriteiMiMiiiiMiT fiti i f 'in iri- - r') -' ii-jliii n m mi nir it, ri i n il C 6 L O R i!U celebrates 19-14 triuemplh) ltd KirkLlhcoln Journol Slor Nebraska's Johnny Mitchell (middle) catches a 28-yard pass from Keithen McCant despite being double covered by Oklahoma's Charles Franks (left) and Terry Ray (19) Friday. Mitchell's catch set up a Byron Bennett field goal that pulled NU to 14-1 3 early in the fourth quarter. t-back Jones scores game-winning TD with 2:57 left. By Ken Hambleton Lincoln Journal-Star Down came the rain. Down came the oranges. Down came the stigma of not beating a Top 70 team in three seasons. And down came the goal posts. No baloney. Nebraska is headed to 'the Orange Bowl as Big Eight co-champion after beating Oklahoma 19-14 Friday afternoon to the delight of the 76,386 fans in dark, drenched and delirious Memorial Stadium. Nebraska I-back Calvin Jones converted a fourth down at the Oklahoma 19-yard line, then scored the game-winning touchdown on a 15-yard run with 2:57 left in the game. Despite the excitement, Jones kept his priorities in line. "I thought first to take care of the ball, second to get into the end zone and third to celebrate. And that celebration went right on into the locker room and who knows how long it will last." THREE TURNOVERS in the first 12 minutes of the game left Nebraska trailing Oklahoma 14-0. The Cornhuskers. ranked No. 11 and now 9-1-1 overall and 6-0-1 in the Big Eight, turned the game around with two field goals by Bryon Bennett, a 10-play, 70-yard scoring drive to open the second half, and a dramatic drive in the final minutes. The win gave NU a share of the Big Eight title with 15th-ranked Colorado. Nebraska was invited to the Orange Bowl because of its higher ranking. The Cornhuskers will play No. 1 Miami on New Year's Day. "When you make up 14 points in this kind of weather against this kind of defense in this kind of game and win . . . that was excellent," said Nebraska middle guard Pat Engelbert. THERE MAY HAVE BEEN no more important play for the Cornhuskers than the fourth-and-1 situation they faced at the Oklahoma 19 NU-OU Scoring, Teom Stats Oklahoma 7 7 0 0 14 Nebraska 0 3 7 9 1? OU Gundy 1 run (Blanton kick) OU Gaddis 1 run (Blanton kick) NU FG Bennett 22 NU McCant 5 run (Bennett kick) NU FG Bennett 33 NU C. Jones 15 run (pass failed) A 74,386 OU NU First downs 12 22 Rushes-yards 44-147 58-249 Passing yards 40 149 Total yards 187 398 Return yards 10 10 Passing 5-14-0 9-13-1 Punts 6-37.7 2-26.0 Fumbles-lost 2-1.3-2 Penalties-yards 2-23 3-46 Time of possession 27:08 32:52 3rd-down conversions 5-15 7-15 4th-down conversions 3-3 1-2 with 3:08 left. . Trailing 14-13, Nebraska chose to forgo a field goal attempt and instead gave the ball to I-back Calvin Jones. The redshirted freshman from Omaha Central took a pitch from quarterback Keithen McCant and ran to the left side of the line, behind pulling guard Erik Weigert, for a 4-yard gain. "That's our bread-and-butter play at Nebraska," said Wiegert. "Coach (Osborne) told us it was our season, and asked if we wanted to go for it on fourth down instead of trying a field goal. "Somebody said. 'Try the pitch play.' We did. And that's that." On the next play. Jones ran a draw up the middle and raced into the end zone to put NU in front for the first time. For good. "The linemen didn't give me any opportunity but to get the first down," said Jones. "I've watched so many Nebraska-Oklahoma games for so manv years. There was the Sooner magic with Keith Jackson and other Please turn to: NU, Page 22 Osborne's gamble pays off; Gibbs' doesn't Decisions, decisions. Not magic. Nebraska's 19-14 victory against Oklahoma at Memorial Stadium Friday afternoon could be reduced to a pair of coaching decisions, one by Oklahoma's Gary Gibbs. the other by Nebraska's Tom Osborne. Gibbs' decision came first and was probably the more significant of the two. Oklahoma won the coin toss and deferred its decision until the start of the second half, when Gibbs told his captains to defend the north goal, thereby giving the Cornhuskers the ball. THE STRATEGY WORKED to start the game. But it didn't in the second half. "I was surprised Oklahoma gave us the ball in the second half," said cornerback Tyrone Legette, a Nebraska co-captain. When he met with officials and an Oklahoma co-captain prior to the start of the second half, "I looked at them like, is this a mistake? 'We're going to give you all the ball.' " Cornhusker quarterback Keithen McCant was similarly surprised. "I thought for sure they'd take the ball," he said. "I guess they thought their defense could do the job." In the first half, it did. But not in the second. Oklahoma's strength was defense. The Mike Babcock Sports Columnist Sooners went into Friday's game ranked fifth in the nation in total defense. But Nebraska responded to the challenge, taking the second-half kickof f and driving 70 yards to score a touchdown and take control of the game. Nebraska had the ball for 10 plays and just more than five minutes. "Oklahoma really hasn't had anybody take the football and do that to them for a couple of years," said Nebraska defensive coordinator Charlie McBride. "They got it stuffed at em." I-BACK DEREK BROWN set the tone on the Cornhuskers' first play from scrimmage in the second half, gaining 11 yards on a pitch to the right. He carried on seven of the next eight plays as well, gaining another 31 yards, tough yards, all of them inside the tackles. With that drive, Gibbs' decision to give up the ball misfired. "We opened it up and took it right at 'em," McCant said. FROM THAT DRIVE ON, Nebraska dominated the line of scrimmage. Still, Nebraska needed a crucial decision by Osborne in the closing minutes to win a game in which the Cornhuskers had spotted Oklahoma a 14-0 lead in weather conditions that probably favored defense. With 3:08 remaining in the game, Nebraska trailed 14-13 and faced a fourth-and-1 at the Oklahoma 19-yard line. Osborne chose to go for the first down instead of attempting a field goal. The decision was made after taking a timeout. Actually, Nebraska's offensive players were responsible for making the decision to go for the first down. "When Coach pulled us off to the sideline, he said it was our season and asked what we wanted to do," McCant said. "There was no doubt in our mind." The Cornhuskers were in agreement, to a man, even though they had lost two yards on a fourth-and-goal at the Sooner 1 late in the third quarter when Brown collided with Stacey Dillard. The result was dramatically different in the fourth quarter. I-back Calvin Jones, a redshirted freshman, took a pitch from McCant and ran to his left for four yards and the first down. "The line had sealed off everything," Jones said. On the next play, Jones ran up the middle, untouched by Oklahoma defenders, for 15 yards and the winning touchdown. TO HEAR OSBORNE TALK about it afterward, the decision to go for the first down was ultimately the most reasonable. "We've always played the odds, and I thought the odds of making a first down were a little better than making a field goal." he said. "We realized if it didn't work, we would be unpopular people in Nebraska." But that was a moot point. Gibbs, not Osborne, was the one to be second-guessed. Considering Oklahoma's defense and the fact that the strategy had worked to start the game, Gibbs' decision seemed reasonable. It wasn't bad strategy, according to Osborne. But "when we took the ball the length of the field, it backfired," he said. Nebraska at Southern Utah Avt. 20.S 22.5 4.0 50 7.0 Probable starters Cornhuskers (2-0) . Thunderbirdt (1-1) W. Ployer(H.) t. Pot. Ployr imi.j I V N ,.' Michael HuahM 14-71 6 0 F Dano Achtiehn (4-4) IJL" .. Corl Hov -9 10.5 F DoVor Marcellc (4-7) Jtt fLl4rL Derrick Chandler (4-10) 11.0 C Kerry Sherwood (4-11) T Y7IJnn Erie PiotkowsKi (4-4) 14.5 G Sean Petersen (4-1) IfvwlfCVlLl Jamar Johnson (5-1 1) 6.5 G Rod Dixon (511) I I W. Tip-off: 4 p.m., Saturday, The Centrum, Cedor City, Utah, 9 Radio: KFAB 1110. KFOK 1240. Notes: It Is the first meeting between Nebroska ond Southern Utah, which has defeated Stephen F. Austin and lost to New Mexico Stato. The Thunderbirdt return Jour starters from last year's team thot went 14-12, Including a 10-2 mork at home. Nell Roberts Is In his tilth season as Southern Utah coach. Before that, he cooched at Dixie College, where he guided the Rebels to the 1985 notional iunlor college chompionshia. Nebraska forward Carl Hayes has 134 points In his Husker career and needs 14 to move onto the top 20 list. Nebraska returns to action against The Cltodel In the Devoney Sports Center at 7:15 p.m. Monday. Oklahoma State takes i!HT crowm Cowboys get defensive, stop Georgia Tech 78-71. From The Associated Press Oklahoma State can't defend the title it won with defense. The llth-ranked Cowboys won the Big Apple NIT Friday night with a 78-71 victory against No. 18 Georgia Tech at New York, another win predi cated on the defensive end. "This was a big win for Oklahoma State University," Cowboys Coach Eddie Sutton said. "I told the players this was one for the rest of your life. Whenever you hear the name NIT you'll know you won it in 1991." A school cannot compete in the Preseason NIT in consecutive seasons. Sean Sutton had 20 points and MVP Byron Houston added 19 for Okla- Top 25 homa State, which held a comfortable lead for the opening 25 minutes. But OSU went scoreless for the next 6:44 as the Yellow Jackets cut a 16-point deficit to 52-48 with a 12-0 run. Oklahoma State finally scored again with 8:13 left on a three-point play by Bryant Reeves. "In the first half, we played as well as we could play," Coach Sutton said. "In the second half, we got fatigued and carelesss." Georgia Tech freshman Travis Best answered with a three-pointer 16 seconds later. Houston then scored the Cowboys' next five points for a 60-53 lead with 6: 35 left. Georgia Tech was never closer Please turn to: Top 25, Page 20 Big Eight Tournament is Tonniges' turn to shine Freshman from East helps NU volleyball team advance to title match. By Steve Sipple Lincoln Journal-Star OMAHA Sometimes the limelight misses Nebraska's Kim Tonniges. It found her Friday night. Tonniges, a 5-foot-ll freshman middle blocker from Lincoln East, recorded 11 kills with no hitting errors as seventh-ranked Nebraska rolled past unranked Iowa State 15-10, 15-0. 15-8 in the first round of the Big Eight Volleyball Tournament before 1,984 spectators at the Omaha Civic Auditorium. Top-seeded Nebraska, which raised its record to 24-4, advanced to Saturday's 7:30 pm. championship match against second-seeded Colorado, which ousted third-seeded Kansas 15-7. 15-3. 15-8 in Friday night's first match of the four-team tournament. Nebraska, which won the league regular P P W season title with a 12-0 record, has won 16 straight regular-season conference crowns and 14 of 15 conference tournaments. The winner of the Big Eight Tournament receives an automatic berth into the 32-team NCAA Tournament The NCAA Volleyball Committee will announce the tournament pairings Sunday, and first-round matches begin Thursday. The loser of the match will be a candidate for an at-large berth. On Friday night, Tonniges. the only Husker starter who wasn't named first-or second-team All-Big Eight, had a season-best .733 hitting percentage. Her previous high was .667 against Oklahoma Oct. 19. when she nailed 13 kills. "I don't know if it's as well as I've played," said Tonniges, who also had two service aces. "We've been working on speeding up our offense. I think it worked tonight; they weren't ready for us." Nebraska, which hit .364 (anything over .300 is considered good), got a match-high 14 kills tfrom junior Stephanie Thater. Senior Cris R m ' f Big Eight Volleyball Tournament schedule At Omaha Civic Auditorium Friday's results Colorado def. Kansas 15-7, 15-1, 15-8 Nebraska dtf. Iowa Stato 15-10, 154, 15-8 Saturday's final Colorado (254) vs. Nebraska (24-4), 7:10 p.m. Hall added 12. Nikki Strieker, a sophomure from Lincoln East, had a match-high 48 set assists. NU Coach Terry Pettit said his team's ball-handling was a key reason behind the Huskers' 39th straight win against Iowa State, which finished 15-12 overall after going 6-6 in the Big Eight. "Kim and Stephanie terminated a lot, but I thought the ballhandling of Hall, Strieker and (senior Janet) Kruse was the reason they were terminating," Pettit said. "They really started to handle the ball well and got it to Nikki. They were doing the trenchwork." Pettit said Tonniges is sometimes "too intense. "I thought she started out a little that way (Friday night) she was a little tight." Pettit said. "But she worked through it and had a really nice match." Nebraska also worked through a slow start. Iowa State took a 4-2 lead in the first game. The teams wpm tiprt fi-9 hpfnrp Ne braska went up 12-9. The Kim Tonniges Cyclones pulled to 12-10 on an NU hitting error before Hall recorded a service ace to start a 3-0 run to end the first game. Losing the close first game hurt the Cyclones. ISU Coach Vicki Mealer said. "I think reality hit just a little bit," Mealer said. Nebraska used its momentum to record its liter mi first shutout game of the season and the 23rd in school history. NOTES: Colorado Coach Brad Saindon, whose team improved to 25-8 while ending Kansas' season at 23-8. said his team will need a better effort in Saturday's final. "We have to play at a real high level and sustain that the whole match, and that's tough to do against a good team." said Saindon, whose Buffaloes finished 10-2 in the Big Eight Saindon said that if his team fails to win the league tournament and doesn't receive an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament, it might not accept an invitation to the third annual National Invitational Volleyball Championship, which features 20 teams that didn't make the 32-team NCAA Tournament field. Colorado participated in the first two tournaments. "If Nebraska beats us in the final and we don't go to the NOAAs, something's wrong," ni Pi P

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