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Huskers Fall Short in 27-24 Loss to No. 7 Texas

By NU Athletic Communications
DeJuan Groce's 44-yard punt return in the fourth quarter.
DeJuan Groce's 44-yard punt return in the fourth quarter.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Lincoln - Jammal Lord rushed for a career-high 234 yards, but No. 7 Texas needed a last gasp interception with nine seconds remaining to escape with a 27-24 win Saturday evening in front of a Memorial Stadium record crowd of 78,268.

The Huskers, who dropped to 6-4 on the season and 2-3 in the Big 12, had an opportunity to win the game in the final minute, as DeJuan Groce returned a Brian Bradford punt to the Texas 16-yard line with 34 seconds remaining. On third down, Lord?s pass was intercepted at the one-yard line by a leaping Nathan Vasher with nine seconds left.

Vasher had both of UT?s interceptions, as Texas snapped the Huskers? nation?s best 26-game home winning streak dating back to 1998. The Longhorns are the only Big 12 team to win in Lincoln since the Big 12?s inception, also breaking NU?s 47-game home streak on Oct. 31, 1998. NU had won 73 of its previous 74 home games dating back to the 1991 season.

Lord, a junior from Bayonne, N.J., rushed for 234 yards on 23 carries, while completing 7-of-14 passes for 98 yards with two scores and two interceptions.

Lord?s performance nearly offset a career night by Texas quarterback Chris Simms, who completed 29-of-47 passes for a career-best 419 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Roy Williams, who set a UT school record with 13 catches for 161 yards.

The Huskers nearly erased a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit after Texas built a 27-17 lead on Cedric Benson?s three-yard touchdown run with 3:24 remaining.

Down by 10, the Huskers came right back, covering 60 yards in just 43 seconds, as Diedrick, who rushed for 52 yards on 11 carries, cut the Longhorn lead to 27-24 with a two-yard scoring run with 2:34 remaining. The Husker defense then stopped the Longhorns, forcing Texas to punt to Groce, who returned the punt 44 yards deep into Texas territory.

After holding Texas on three-and-out on its first possession, the Huskers drove 24 yards on six plays, highlighted by Diedrick?s 27-yard run to the UT 25-yard line, to set up Josh Brown?s 48-yard field goal, giving the Huskers a 3-0 lead 4:14 into the contest.

The field goal was a regular-season career long for the senior from Foyil, Okla., whose previous regular-season long was 44 yards vs. Utah State earlier this season.

The Longhorns mounted their first major drive late in the first quarter, as Simms found Williams for completions of 17, 12 and 27 yards to the NU 18-yard line. The Husker defense stiffened before Dusty Mangum?s 25-yard field goal deadlocked the contest at 3-3 with 17 seconds left in the first quarter.

Texas got the game?s first turnover on the opening play of the second quarter when Lord?s pass was deflected and picked up by Vasher at the UT 48-yard line. The Longhorns turned the miscue into points, as Mangum connected on his second field goal of the game, this time from 41 yards, to give UT a 6-3 lead.

After Magnum missed a 44-yard field goal on the next drive, the Huskers came right back, driving 43 yards to the Texas 29-yard line. On fourth-and-one, Michael Huff and Derrick Johnson stopped Lord for no gain, giving the Longhorns possession. It was the second time in the half that the Huskers were stopped on a fourth-and-one situation, as NU was stymied on a fourth-and-one at the UT 18 midway through the first quarter.

On NU?s next possession, the Huskers drove into field goal range, but David Kolowski?s snap was high on Josh Brown?s 48-yard field goal attempt. Holder Joe Chrisman fell on the ball for a seven-yard loss and NU came away without points.

The Huskers got their first turnover in the waning seconds of the first half, as Philip Bland hit Simms as he threw and Josh Bullocks returned the interception 19 yards to the NU 46 with 39 seconds left before halftime. Josh Davis raced for 13 yards on NU?s first play before Lord found Ross Pilkington for nine yards to the Texas 32 to put the Huskers into field goal range.

Brown attempted to tie the game with a 49-yard field goal on the final play of the half, but Rod Babers blocked Brown?s kick out of bounds, sending the Huskers into halftime trailing 6-3.

The Huskers opened the second half going 79 yards on seven plays capped by Lord?s 2-yard touchdown pass to Jon Bowling to take a 10-6 lead. Lord set up the score, going 53-yards on an option keeper to the UT 3-yard line.

The Longhorns regained the lead at 13-10 on their opening possession of the half, as Simms found Roy Williams for a 16-yard touchdown pass to cap a five-play drive. Ivan Williams set up the score with a 49-yard reception down the sideline to the NU 20-yard line.

Texas extended the lead to 20-10, going 97 yards on 17 plays, as Simms found Williams for a 2-yard touchdown reception, his second score of the day. The Longhorns went 5-for-5 on third downs on the drive, as Simms completed 7-of-8 passes on the drive for 63 yards.

The Huskers came right back, driving 80 yards on four plays as Lord hit freshman tight end Matt Herian for a 60-yard scoring strike to trim the deficit to 20-17. On the previous play, Lord raced 14 yards on third-and-four to give NU a first down, while going over the 200-yard mark on the ground for the second time this season.

The Huskers return to action next Saturday, Nov. 9, against Kansas. Kickoff for the Homecoming contest with the Jayhawks is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. and the game will not be televised or streamed on the Internet.

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