Second-and-10 from the Wildcat 20-yard-line, ball on the right hash, running back Wyatt Mazour and wideout Jaron Woodyard to his right, Noah Vedral surveyed what was in front of him. The snap came and Vedral faked to Mazour left, pulled the ball and ran right.
He picked up a block from his tight end, Kurt Rafdal, and had one guy in front of him that could keep him out of the end zone. He stutter-stepped around the 10 but B-CU’s Vernon Walker didn’t bite. “Tried to get him a little bit to slow down,” Vedral said. “He didn’t really slow so I’m like, ‘Alright, I’m running out of time.’”
So Vedral dove for six. Then he just sat on the turf in the south end zone while every other Nebraska player on the field ran towards him. For Vedral, a Wahoo native and Nebraska legacy, his first appearance as a Husker brought with it his first touchdown.
“That was amazing, something really, really special,” Vedral said. “Something I’ve dreamed about since I was little. For that to finally come true, it’s still a little surreal.”
Nebraska (2-6, 1-4 Big Ten) handled its business against Bethune-Cookman (4-5) Saturday and cruised to a win for the second week in a row, this one 45-9. Because of it, Vedral and a host of other Nebraska kids got their chance to see the field.
“We wanted to win the game first and foremost, we wanted to play well second, ideally we wanted to be in a game where we could get a lot of young guys experience,” head coach Scott Frost said after the game.
With the Huskers up 38-3 after 30 minutes, all three boxes were seemingly checked. Starting quarterback Adrian Martinez went for 213 yards in a half, senior back Devine Ozigbo turned in his third consecutive 100-yard outing and the defense held Bethune-Cookman to three points. Frost was able to turn it loose and kids like Vedral and Mazour and Matt Jarzynka and Austin Allen got on the field because of it.
“Those are the types of kids that I played with, they’re the type of kids that make up the patchwork of this program,” Frost said. “Anytime one of those kids is out there it’s a little extra special to me.”
At halftime, the Huskers went to Vedral as the quarterback and Mazour as the running back. Vedral said he knew a few days before he would be the first on the field after Martinez, but it wasn’t until he went through the Tunnel Walk knowing he’d be playing that it started to feel real.
Before he went in, Vedral looked for his running back. When he found Mazour, he asked, “You’re my running back?”
“I’m your running back,” Mazour responded.
They didn’t say anything after, but they both knew. Both were C-1 players in the state during their high school careers; Mazour at Boone Central and Vedral at Bishop Neumann. “It was a pretty special moment,” Mazour said. With 55 yards on the ground, Mazour finished with the second-best day of anyone on the field and he did it on five carries.
“He was a little older than me, but I remember going through high school hearing about Wyatt Mazour, Wyatt Mazour, Wyatt Mazour and I was like, ‘Gosh, this dude’s crazy,’” Vedral said. “What he did to carry his team to that state title was insane. Chance to share the field with him was unbelievable.”
Mazour has been a fan favorite for years in Lincoln. When he's gotten his chance, he's produced more often than not. Against Michigan on Sept. 22, Mazour entered a blowout and scored the team's only touchdown of the day.
"When I get my chance, I try to do as well as I can, try to represent this state," he said. "Being from here represents a lot to me."
Then there was Jarzynka, a senior defensive lineman from Loup City, Nebraska. He had zero tackles in his Nebraska career entering Saturday. In the fourth quarter, he earned his first by sacking B-CU’s starting quarterback, David Isreal. He was promptly mauled by his teammates.
It’s been my dream all my life… Dream Accomplished. pic.twitter.com/EsQLerCH6l
— Matt Jarzynka (@MJarzynka) October 27, 2018
"For his first play to be a sack was really special," Mazour said. "That was the most pumped I’ve seen the whole team for one guy since I’ve been here, so that was special."
When Mick Stoltenberg — another senior defensive lineman, a Nebraska native and a team captain — came to the podium after the game to meet with the media, his first comment was about Jarzynka.
“I just want to start by giving a shout out to Matt Jarzynka,” he said. “Came in with that kid five years ago, you know he’s a walk-on here. He’s worked his ass off every single day and didn’t complain once. He’s given all he’s had to this program and for him to get out there and make that TFL that was awesome.
“Just all the Nebraska kids watching the game, for them to see that and realize that if you’re in this state and you love football, you can play here, you can get on the field, you can make the most of your opportunity. That kid epitomizes what Nebraska is about.”
Maybe the strangest part of the whole afternoon was the fact none of this might have happened. Nebraska was supposed to be on a bye week. Vedral would have been at home watching football on his TV. Instead, because of lightning on Sept. 1, he was scoring his first Nebraska touchdown. Because of prolonged inclement weather, Jarzynka was getting his first sack. Because of a B-CU relationship with tight end coach Sean Beckton, back Miles Jones and linebacker Simon Otte were making their debuts.
“I didn’t think of that until now but yeah that’s kind of crazy,” Vedral said. “That’s weird.”
Martinez has brushed off praise before, saying he’s just doing his job. Frost was asked if there was a little extra motivation from guys like Martinez to get their job done earlier so the other guys could get on the field. Absolutely, he said.
“I think they knew if they went out and took care of business that some of those other guys would get some reps,” Frost said. “Then, you’ve got Jarzynka making sacks and the guys going crazy and some other guys out there making plays that haven’t gotten a chance to yet. That kind of feeling of team and camaraderie has really grown over the course of this year and it was exciting to see the old guys that excited for the kids that haven’t played much.”
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.