Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Bullet Points: Georgia Southern 45 Nebraska 42

September 10, 2022

And back-and-forth they went on Sun Belt Saturday, a day in which Georgia Southern’s conference mates made waves. Marshall went to South Bend and knocked off No. 8 Notre Dame. Appalachian State, which nearly pulled off an all-time comeback against North Carolina last week, beat No. 6 Texas A&M in College Station this week.

Georgia Southern (2-0) added the conference’s third Power 5 pelt, rolling to 642 total yards in a 45-42 win over Nebraska (1-2, 0-1).

The Eagles, under new head coach Clay Helton, came out swinging. After forcing a Nebraska three-and-out on the game’s first drive, Georgia Southern unleashed an offensive onslaught that has been rare at Memorial Stadium.

The Eagles scored touchdowns on four of their first five drives in the game, and it’s sixth drive ended when they ran out of time at the Husker 8-yard line. Nebraska also scored touchdowns on four of its first six drives to leave things tied at halftime, 28-28.

Georgia Southern again started strong, taking a 35-28 lead to start the second stanza on an eight-play, 75-yard drive. Nebraska couldn’t answer, but finally forced its first punt of the game on the ensuing drive. That gave the Huskers an opening to tie the game, and, finally, it would hold Georgia Southern to a field goal after a stop on third-and-goal from the 2 to start the fourth quarter.

Safety Marques Buford Jr. grabbed his second interception of the game, at the Huskers’ 2-yard line, early in the fourth quarter. Nebraska mounted a 98-yard touchdown drive to claim a 42-38 lead.

Georgia Southern converted a crucial fourth-and-2 on the following drive to keep its hopes alive. Khaleb Hood made a diving catch to take the ball down to Nebraska’s 17. A defensive holding call gave Georgia Southern first-and-goal from the 8 with less than a minute to play, and quarterback Kyle Vantrease rushed for 8 yards on second down to give the Eagles the lead with 36 seconds remaining.

Nebraska advanced the ball to the Eagles’ 34-yard line setting up a 51-yard field goal attempt with 1 second remaining. Timmy Bleekrode pushed it wide left.

On to some other notes and observations from Saturday:

>>This was the first time in the history of Memorial Stadium that Nebraska lost at home when scoring 35 points or more. The Huskers were 214-0 prior to Saturday and 11-0 under Scott Frost.

>>Ten of Nebraska’s last 11 losses have come by one score or less. The Huskers dropped to 5-22 in one-score games under Frost.

>>For the first time in 2022, Nebraska did not score on its opening offensive drive. Not even close. Two penalties on the opening kickoff, only one of which was accepted, negated a solid return and put the Huskers at their own 10. The three-and-out netted -1 yard. Following a 65-yard punt from Brian Buschini, Georgia Southern zipped down the field using tempo, or at least it felt as fast as a 13-play drive can be, for a 7-0 lead. It was a sign of things to come.

>>Entering Saturday, Nebraska’s defense ranked 102nd nationally allowing opponents to complete 68% of passes through the first two games. It didn’t get any better in the first half against Georgia Southern. Vantrease completed 19-of-26 (73.1%) in the game’s first 30 minutes. He would go just 18-of-30 in the second half, to finish with a completion percentage of 66%, but would throw a touchdown and rush for the game-winning score.

>>Casey Thompson was even better on fewer attempts early on, starting the game 13-for-16 (81.3%) with 202 yards and a touchdown–a 21-yard toss to Brody Belt for Belt’s first career touchdown––in the first half. He also had a pair of rushing touchdowns. Thompson finished the day 23-of-34 for 318 yards and would add a rushing touchdown in the second half.

>>Running back Anthony Grant topped 100 yards rushing for the third time in three games, rushing for 138 yards on 27 carries with a touchdown. He is the first Husker running back to rush for 100-plus yards in three consecutive games since Devine Ozigbo in 2018.

Nebraska will host Oklahoma next Saturday. The Sooners improved to 2-0 with a 33-3 win over Kent State Saturday.

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