Lincoln -Nebraska?s defense pitched a second-half shutout and allowed just 28 yards after intermission, as the Huskers posted a 24-13 victory over Missouri Saturday afternoon.
The Blackshirts sparked the Huskers, who improved to 5-2 overall and 1-1 in the Big 12. Nebraska held holding MU, which dropped to 3-3 overall and 0-2 in the Big 12, to just two first downs in the second half and none in the fourth quarter.
Overall, NU limited Missouri to 220 total yards, half of the Tigers? average of 441.4 entering Saturday?s contest. Cornerback DeJuan Groce provided the game?s biggest play, an 89-yard punt return in the third quarter to give NU, which has won 26 straight games at home, a 21-13 cushion.
Quarterback Jammal Lord rushed for 98 yards, while reserve I-back David Horne totaled 88 yards and a touchdown, the first of his career. NU rushed for 325 yards as a team in posting its 24th consecutive win over the Tigers.
MU quarterback Brad Smith, who rushed for 213 yard in accumulating 391 total yards in last week?s 31-24 loss to Oklahoma, was held to just 34 yards on 17 carries, while completing 14-of-29 passes for a season-low 123 yards.
The Huskers provided the visitors with a golden opportunity on the first play of scrimmage, as Lord fumbled and the Tigers recovered at the MU 33-yard line. Missouri drive down and scored four plays later on Zack Abron?s one-yard run to give MU a 7-0 lead.
Nebraska came back with a substantial drive on its third offensive possession, going 64 yards in nine plays. Judd Davies rumbled 22-yards to the MU 9-yard line before a facemask penalty put the ball at the four. The Huskers were stopped before a costly pass interference penalty on third down gave NU a second chance, setting up Horne?s first career touchdown one play later from five yards out.
The Tigers came back on their next possession, going 75-yards on 11 plays to take a 10-7 lead on Michael Matheny 22-yard field goal. MU had third-and-goal at the NU 1-yard line before the NU defense stiffened.
Abron, who had a 48-yard run earlier in the drive, was stopped by Groce and Fabian Washington for a four-yard loss.
Missouri extended its lead to 13-7 with 9:27 remaining in the half on Matheny?s second field goal of the game, this one from a career-long 44-yards out, as MU drove 41 yards on seven plays.
The Tigers were in position to extend the lead, facing fourth and two at the NU 34-yard line, but Washington broke up Smith?s pass intended for Justin Gage, giving the Huskers possession with 2:56 remaining in the half. The Huskers responded, going 66 yards in six plays, as Lord found tight end Aaron Golliday for a one-yard TD pass with 43 seconds left in the half. Horne carried the bulk of the offense on the series, carrying four times for 46 yards, including a 30-yard burst to the MU 36 on the opening play of the drive.
The Husker special teams gave NU some breathing room as cornerback Groce returned a Brock Harvey punt 89 yards for a score. It was Groce?s third punt return for a TD this season, and fifth in the his career, and gave the Huskers a 21-13 advantage.
Nebraska extended the margin to 24-13, as Josh Brown connected on a 42-yard field goal with 11:39 remaining, capping an 11-play, 49-yard drive. Brown connected on his first six attempts in 2002, including four from beyond 40 yards, before missing a 35-yarder with 3:54 remaining.
The lead would be enough, as the Huskers held the Tigers without a first down for their final four possessions and just 11 fourth-quarter yards.
The Huskers travel to Stillwater, Okla., to take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys next Saturday, Oct. 19. The game will be televised regionally on FOX Sports Net at 11:30 a.m.