Missed opportunities plague Huskers

Nebraska wide receiver Kenny Bell looks at his hands in disbelief after dropping a pass. The Huskers dropped four passes in Saturday’s 28-25 loss to Northwestern.

Story by Chris Peters and photo by Crystal Zamora, NewsNetNebraska

Momentum was beginning to shift in Lincoln early in the fourth quarter.

Nebraska had scored a touchdown just seven minutes earlier to reduce its deficit to 14-10, and now the Huskers had pinned Northwestern inside their own 20-yard line.

Then it happened.

Jeremy Ebert, a 6 foot 195 pound Northwestern wide receiver, dashed past Husker defender Lance Thorell and shot up the middle of the field, bringing home an 81-yard bomb.

The Wildcats led 21-10 with 12:16 left in the game. Any Husker momentum was reversed.

“We all thought we were going to come back and win but it didn’t happen this time,” Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez said.

The hope of a comeback victory died with a failed onside kick with 18 seconds remaining and a 28-25 loss.

The need for a comeback can be traced to the second quarter.

Only three minutes into the quarter, Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead fumbled the ball on the Northwestern 5-yard line. Two minutes later, wide receiver Quincy Enunwa gave Northwestern its second red zone takeaway, fumbling the ball at the 19-yard line.

“Any time you shoot yourself in the foot, it’s bad,” wide receiver Kenny Bell said. “It’s a problem we’ve had all year and we need to fix it.”

In addition to the two red zone fumbles, Nebraska committed six penalties for 41 yards and dropped four passes.

“We did all the things you could do to lose a football game,” Coach Bo Pelini said.

Despite Nebraska’s mistakes, Martinez and Nebraska’s offense still found themselves in a position to potentially come back to win the game late.

Martinez, who finished the game with the second-best completion percentage in his career, 75.7, completed a 14-yard touchdown to Bell with 18 seconds remaining. The Huskers needed to recover an onside kick, then set up a game-tying field goal.

They didn’t recover the kick.

“At the end of the day it comes down to execution,” Pelini said. “They executed. We didn’t.”