Early deficit too much for mistake-prone Huskers

Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter accounted for three touchdowns for the Wildcats Saturday.

Story by Grant Muessel and photos by Crystal Zamora, NewsNetNebraska

Nebraska was unable to overcome early mistakes in a 28-25 loss against Legends-Division opponent Northwestern Saturday.

Coach Bo Pelini credited lack of execution in all three phases of the game in what he called a “complete team loss.”
“Our offense needed to keep (Northwestern) off the field and that didn’t happen,” Pelini said. “We did all the things you can do to lose a game.”

Defensively, Nebraska gave up 468 yards to the Wildcats, the most since a win over Oklahoma State in October 2010. Northwestern rushed for 207 yards, more than 80 more than the Huskers.

The Wildcats took a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter and never surrendered it. Northwestern backup quarterback Kain Colter accounted for 173 of the Wildcats’ yards, with two rushing touchdowns and another through the air. Colter took the place of starter Dan Persa, who left the game with a shoulder injury.

“(Colter) is a phenomenal player. He deserves to be out of the field,” Nebraska receiver Kenny Bell said. “He proved that today.”

Turnovers and third downs kept the Huskers from converting offensive yards into scores, despite a season-high three takeaways. Nebraska produced 411 yards on offense, but couldn’t recover from two fumbles in the red zone.

Rex Burkhead, responsible for Nebraska’s first fumble, finished the game with 69 rushing yards, snapping his three-game streak of 100-yard games. He also finished with 34 receiving yards. Burkhead’s fumble on the Northwestern 5-yard line in the second quarter marked his first fumble since the 2010 Holiday Bowl, more than 180 carries ago.

Quarterback Taylor Martinez said a lack of execution on short plays told the story.

“We didn’t convert on those third-and-ones and third-and-twos, that’s what killed us,” Martinez said.

The Huskers finished 10 for 17 on third down conversions.

Martinez said Northwestern’s unfamiliar looks on defense didn’t allow the Husker offensive line to control the line of scrimmage like it did against Michigan State a week ago.

Next weekend, the Huskers travel to Penn State, undefeated in the Big Ten and leading the conference in scoring defense.