The Lincoln Star from Lincoln, Nebraska on November 30, 1991 · 22
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The Lincoln Star from Lincoln, Nebraska · 22

Lincoln, Nebraska
Issue Date:
Saturday, November 30, 1991
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. Pago 22 Lincoln Journal-Star KUSKERS Saturday, November 30, 1991 Husker defense shows its heart shte iii httY If Ttd KlrKLlncotn Journal-star .Nebraska tight end Johnny Mitchell is tackled by OU linebacker Chris Wilson after catching a 14-yard pass in the first quarter. Huskers' power game saps Sooners Nebraska's driving offense controls line of scrimmage ; in second-half rally. By Ken Hambleton Lincoln Journal-Star Nobody debated the point that Friday was not a : good day to play offense for Nebraska. The steady rain. The cold. Oklahoma's defense that was ranked fifth-best in the country. "It was a tough day to play offense," Nebraska Coach Torn Osborne said. "I felt to beat them we'd have to do all the things we can do. But with the kind of day it was, we didn't throw as much as we'd ; like to and we didn't run as many options as we liked" But Nebraska did have power. "People on the sidelines said their defensive line was moving back every play," said NU senior of fen-. sive guard Erik Wiegert. "I knew on the first drive of the second half, they were worried. That first " flrive was the turning point of the whole game." ' Nebraska stopped itself with three turnovers in the first 12 minutes of the game. But the Comhuskers, counting on the running of Calvin Jones, picked up a field goal before the end of the half to cut the score to 14-3. On the first drive of the second half, behind the running of starting I-back Derek Brown, Nebraska rushed for 47 yards and picked up 23 more on a pass from Keithen McCant to tight end Johnny Mitchell to close the score to 14-10 on McCant 's 5-yard run. The next NU drive stalled at the Sooner 1. But Nebraska scored a field goal and a touchdown on its next two possessions to take the lead and win. "I told our team at halftime that, true or not, you're gaining the upper hand," Osborne said. "I felt we were beginning to take control of the line of scrimmage. The only question I had at 14-3 was could we score enough to win?" - That point became moot r Nebraska's confidence grew as the game wore on. ; , Facing a critical fourth-and-1 at the OU 19-yard line with three minutes left, Osborne called a time out and asked his team if he should go for the first down or opt for a field goal. Osborne explained his thinking. "We were debating about a field goal at that point, the weather being what it was, you worry about the snap and the hold. We had a couple blocked this year, too. We had Keithen McCant stumble down near the goal line and took a field , goal in the first half. Then, we got stopped at the 1 when they stunted into a play. "I was afraid somebody would miss a block. And the odds were in favor of us getting the first down. I was just hoping we wouldn't score too soon." Jones scored on the next play. "You take what you can get," Osborne said. McCant, who passed for 149 yards, including 137 on seven passes tq Mitchell, said the second half was a fitting conclusion to Nebraska's season. , "All season, even last summer, we worked to get to this point and since we had done this together, done it as a team, I don't think anybody could have stopped us," he said. "We didn't panic. We kept our poise. ' .vv'.?: ; "We just eliminated the options because they were shooting wide and we started going right at them," he said, i . . The only mistake in the second half came on fourth down at the OU 1 in the third quarter when Oklahoma defensive tackle Stacey Dillard stopped Derek Brown for a 2-yard loss. r "I was ready for him, but I didn't get enough of him," NU offensive tackle Brian Boerboom said of Dillard. "But we knew we were still in control and still driving the ball well. We knew we could get in the end zone before too long. i , "We told each other, 'We've been doing it all day, let's just do it one more time.' , ' And the result "I've never seen the locker room so crazy as it was today," he said. ' , Black Shirts never lost their poise, knew they, could stop OU. By Ryly Jane Hambleton Lincoln Journal-Star , The Nebraska defense may come in all shapes and sizes, but there is one common characteristic. . "Our kids call themselves the 'no-name' defense. We've got some who are short and fat, some are tall and skinny and others are strong and ugly," said 1 defensive coordinator Charlie McBride. "They are not the most athletic group we've ever had. But they have the most heart. . "The whole key is character. When they were down, they never lost their poise and they never lost faith in each other. This is a team that's got a lot of character. You know something good is going to happen when you work that hard." THE PAYOFF CAME in the form of Nebraska's 19-14 victory against Oklahoma Friday to clinch a berth in the Orange Bowl as the Big Eight Conference co-champion. ' "Our kids have something special about them. It's an intangible they struggled, were maligned, they were great, bad and OK," said McBride. "But they wanted to prove themselves and they deserve all the credit in the world. , "In past years, we were not very strong defensively in the third and fourth quarters. We just preached about that and to gain momentum in: stead of losing it in the fourth quarter." "'' -'V " THE HUSKERS GAVE Oklahoma little opportunity after halftime; when the Sooners led 14-3. A five-minute Nebraska drive to' open the second half cut the margin to 14-10. ; "We knew we hadn't played terrible defense in the first half, but we weren't playing the Way we could, said defensive tackle Kevin Ramaek-ers. "That was a great drive by our offense. They were really sticking it right to Oklahoma. When the offense does well, it rubs off on the defense. Then it was our turn. ! "We wanted it to be three-and-out in the third and fourth quarters. We shut them down." ; ; - s - ; ' The NU defense forced the Sooners to punt after Travis Hill sacked quarterback Cale Gundy for an 8-yard loss. Another Husker drive consumed nearly six minutes before Oklahoma stopped Derek Brown on fourth down from the Sooners' 1-yard line. , . But the defense again rose to the occasion. Three OU plays netted only four yards, and Oklahoma again punt? ed. "After that first series of the third quarter, Pat (Engelbert) said They- 're dying on us.'- We knew , they . wouldn't just go belly up, but we felt the difference," said Ramaekers. "Nebraska has been known to start really strong but fade. This team gets adjusted and gets the feel of the game r so we know what to expect. When we start rolling, it's hard to stop us." JOHN PARRELLA SAID the NU offensive domination in the second half gave the defense all the emotion it needed. ' " "To have a good defense is to have 1 a good offense. Look at the size of our . offensive line we just ran right over them," said the junior tackle. ' "On the last drive, we were hoping the offense would score because a field goal would be just a two-point lead sand all they had to do was kick a field . goal to win. Once we scored the touchdown, we knew we could stuff them." McBride agreed. "It was impressive to see our, ok fense stuff it right at them, movejthe; ball and eat up the clock. That gave; our defense some incentive," he said. -' THE SOONERS GAINED three first downs on their final drive, ac-! counting for 36 of their 75 second-hair yards, but Parrella said he wasn't; worried. , "Our defensive backs were cover-! ing so well that (Cale) Gundy had to; wait to throw it," said Parrella. "And-Trev (Alberts), Travis (Hill) and Jamie (Liewer) were doing so good, that they forgot about Kevin, Pat and I." '... It was basic defense on the Soon-l ? ers' final drive, according to McBride.; '' "We didn't do anything fancy on; that last series. We faked some-blitzes, but in -the second half, , we! played them straight up," he said.; "They tried to run it down our throat ' and we stuffed them. ! "Our coverage was pretty good,; they dropped some and we had a , pretty good rush." , ! Oklahoma finished the series with; four incomplete passes. One was; broken up by Tyrone Legette and an- , other pass was hurried by Parrella's i "What helps us what makes us, feel we can win is that we have had games where we were behind and fin- ished winning," said strong safety, Steve Carmer. "This year, because of character and unity, we played as a team with a common goal. We found all that." NU guys: It seemed like Oklahoma guys too many times. "This time, I had the run, but it wasn't me, I had no choice with the way our line was blocking," Jones said. On the touchdown, he said, "The linemen blocked a hole that you could have driven a garbage truck -through." Jones, who finished with 118 yards rushing, and teammate Derek Brown, who had 98, helped Nebraska keep the ball from Oklahoma for all but six plays in the third quarter and eight more in the fourth quarter until the Comhuskers scored the last time. NEBRASKA GROUND OUT 227 yards of total offense in the second half (398 total) against OU's defense, which had allowed an average of just 89 yards rushing and 274 yards total offense per game this season. "They had a good game plan and they wore us down," Oklahoma linebacker Chris Wilson said. "We have ionfidence in our defense and Coach (Gary) Gibbs has that confidence in us." . That led to Gibbs deciding to kick off to open the second half, with the Sooners leading 14-3. T. "We couldn't believe that they .wanted to make us take the ball first in the second half," Wiegert said. "Maybe they thought they could stop us like they did at the start. "The thing was, we were getting the yards in the first half, but we had a couple of turnovers and we weren't going to do that in the second ha?. Maybe they didn't know that." ; Oklahoma scored its first touchdown after Nebraska's Brown scrambled to pick up the opening kickoff and recovered it at the NU 2. Oklahoma stuffed the Comhuskers and took over at the NU 33 after a short From Page 19 punt. Five plays later, Cale Gundy scored on a quarterback sneak. NEBRASKA FOLLOWED with turnovers on its next three possessions and OU took advantage. A 1-yard TD run by Mike Gaddis with 12:39 left in the first half culminated a 42-yard drive and gave OU a 14-0 lead. "When they kicked off to us to start the second half, it was kind of like a dare," said McCant. "We had been doing just fine, moving the ball in the first half, but we had turnovers. . , "We had no doubts that we could do a better job in the second half." Nebraska's Tyrone Hughes, playing with a cast on his left hand, returned the second-half kickoff 30 yards to the NU 30. Brown carried the ball on consecutive plays to the Oklahoma 34. Then, McCant hit tight end ' Johnny Mitchell on a 23-yard pass. Brown picked up sue more yards and McCant scored on a 5-yard run to cut the OU lead to 14-10 with 9:53 left in the third quarter. The Comhuskers appeared ready to take the lead when they stopped Oklahoma on three plays, including an 8-yard sack by Travis Hill, to force a punt. NU used 12 plays to move the ball to the Sooner 1. v But Oklahoma's Stacey Dillard stuffed Brown for a 2-yard loss on fourth down to end that threat Nebraska's defense stymied Oklahoma on three downs again and, following a Sooner punt, Nebraska drove 35 yards for a 33-yard field goal by Bennett to cut the deficit to 14-13 with 12:20 left in the game. "I never had a doubt in the second half," Mitchell said. "None of us were scared by Oklahoma's lead at half-time or when they stopped us. "It takes heart to play on a day like this and we had a lot of heart today." jj w C 1 ill : . Ql 1 " j'i P f I J Rondv HamptonLincoln Journal-Star A pass intended for OU split end Greg Ervin (5) falls incomplete as Nebraska's Tyrone Legette (3) and Tyrone, Byrd defend late ' in the fourth quarter. - " . . ; Cornhusker notes and quotes Coach Tom Osborne: "There 'are some pretty happy guys downstairs (in the locker room). This is probably, no, this is the most enjoyable team I've coached. We probably came about as close as being good as they can be", f Osborne, asked happy : "It beats losing." if he was Individual Statistics Nebraska " Offense ; . Rushing No. Yds. Ave. C. Jones..... J7 118 6.9 D. Brown ....24 , ; 98 " McCant....... J2 23 : Lewis 2 , 4 ISoto 2 4 Mitchell 1 2 r-; -, Passing v nc Co. Yds PI 'McCant ..33 9 149 1 -.-. Receiving NO. I Mitchell.'. 7 Washington 1 ' Dixon I Punting A I No. Yds. Ave. Stlgge.... 2 52 26.0 ; Kickoff returns No. Yds. Hughes 1 30 Glantz... 1 D. Brown 1 Punt returns No. Dixon 1 16 0 Yds. 10 4.1 1.9 2.0 2.0 2.0 Yds. 137 7 5 Defense Tackles , UT AT TT Carmer.....!...... 1 7 8 Engelbert 3 4 7 Petko 1 6 7 Alberts 3 3 6 Anderson 3 2 5 Hill 1 4 5 Leggette 2 3 5 Parrella 1 4 5 Ramaekers 14 5 Byrd 0 4 .4 Cotton 1 3 4 Beler 10 1 Fletcher 1 0 1 D. Joness 1 0 1 Liewer 10 1 Noonan 1 0 1 Stewart 1 0 1 Oklahoma Offense Rushing No, Yds. Ave. Gaddis 22 63 2.9 McKinley....ll 47 4.3 Rasheed 6 18 3.0 Gundy 7 19 2.7 Passing - No. Co. Yds PI Gundy........J4 5 40 0 Receiving No. Yds. Gaddis 2 11 Long 1 13 Mickey 1 10 Warren 1 6 Kickoff returns No. Yds. Taylor 1 12 T.Collins 1 11 ''V'-"--' Punting No. Yds. Ave. Reddell 6 226 37.7 Interception returns No. Yds. Walker 1 10 Defense Tackles UT AT TT Bowden 8 6 14 Ch. Wilson ....... 4 6 10 Belser 4 4 8 Ray 4 4 8 Dillard 2 5 7 Tlppens 4 0 4 Barnes. 2 4 , 6 Franks 2 3 5 Land 2 3 5 Mayfleld 1 2 3 Coats 2 0 2 Wllklns 1 1 2 Wren 1 1 2 Walker 10 1 - ' t - --' Osborne, on his impromptu speech to farts in the second half about throwing oranges on the field: "It was a bush-league thing to do. I don't understand that. It's dangerous, and I hate to see other teams treated like that and on national television. We'd like to see a better image on TV. But there are about 100 or 200 hammerheads out there." . Osborne, speaking over the referee's microphone, told fans he asked the officials to penalize Nebraska if any more oranges were thrown on the field. "This is baloney," he said. "We cant have you behave this way.", Nebraska earned a share of the Big Eight title with Colorado, tying with 6-0-1 records after tying each other at 19. NU has won or shared 36 conference titles, including 16 since the league became the Big Eight iS Tickets for Nebraska's New Year's Day Orange Bowl game against Miami, Fla go on sale Saturday. Nebraska will make its 12th appearance, including its third straight against Miami on the Hurricanes' - . 1 home field. v. . NU tick'., manager Joe Selig said -the South Stadium Ticket Office will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday to take orders for bowl tickets. During those hours, the ticket office will also take orders by phone (472-3111) and callers must charge their orders to either VISA or MasterCard. The following procedures will be followed in the selling of the tickets : Preference will be given to orders received on or before Wednesday. ' ' If demand exceeds the university's supplly, a priority system will be used. Deadline for ordering tickets is Thursday. ? Tickets cost $30 apiece, with a $3 . handling charge per order. Requests should be mailed to UNL Athletic Ticket Office, P.O. Box 82848,, Lincoln, NE, 68501. . lS None of the Nebraska injuries should prevent any players from playing in the Orange Bowl. Inside linebacker Darren Williams suffered a sprained ankle, offensive guard Will Shields a bruised knee, offensive tackle Lance Lundberg a strained arch, inside linebacker Mike Anderson a sprained ankle and center Bill Ziegelbein a scratched cornea. S Tight end Johnny Mitchell caught a career-high seven passes for a career-high 137 yards, tying the single-game NU record for tight ends set by Jim McFarland in 1969. U" Mitchell, on going to the Orange Bowl: '"Going is not enough for me. I want to win. I hope Miami prepares itself because Nebraska is going to come in and play football. They're supposed to be the No. 1 team and No. 1 defense and unbeatable. I don't want to just take a trip for nine or 10 days." ;' S Tight end William Washington! on his first regular-season catch:; "I'm glad to get that off my shoulders." 'V - v. ' ' . Nebraska's 249 yards on the ground against Oklahoma gave NU its seventh national rushing title in 12 years. ' ,; lS Calvin Jones, who . joined Mitchell as a Chevrolet player of the. . game, became the first freshman to lead the Big Eight in scoring, finishing with an average of 8.4 points per game. .

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