Nebraska’s third quarter was filled with up and downs.
The Huskers were tied at 7-7 with FCS team North Dakota at halftime, but came into the second half strong. Casey Thompson connected with Nate Boerkircher for a 19-yard touchdown, then a Garrett Nelson forced fumble on a sack set up an eventual field goal to put the team up 17-7.
However, North Dakota tied it up again in under four minutes, hitting a short field goal, forcing a Thompson interception that was returned to Nebraska’s 8-yard line and scoring a touchdown on the ground. The sight was reminiscent of the season opener, where Nebraska lost two-double digit leads before eventually falling 31-28.
Then came another familiar sight. Running back Anthony Grant started the next Husker drive with three straight runs for a total of 16 yards. After Thompson completed a first down pass to move the team into North Dakota territory, Grant got another carry, made a few moves, and broke free for a 46-yard touchdown. He had a touchdown of equal distance last week, but because this one was a go-ahead score in a Nebraska win, it’s the Play of the Game.
“I really just stayed patient,” he said postgame of this week’s long touchdown. “Followed my blocks, eventually bust it to the outside, and I just ran all the way to the touchdown.”
Grant was impressive throughout the win, taking 23 carries for 189 yards and two touchdowns. He scored the Huskers’ first touchdown of the day as well, making a few players miss and getting in from 19 yards out. He added four more rushes of over 10 yards outside of the scoring runs.
Through two games, he’s now at 290 yards and four touchdowns on 42 carries, having gotten in the end zone twice last week. Grant is the first Husker to record back-to-back 100-yard rushing games since Devine Ozigbo in 2018, and the first to open his Nebraska career with two straight 100-yard showings on the ground since Taylor Martinez in 2010.
The transfer running back said he wasn’t surprised by his strong performance.
“I stayed down and all the work I put in, I knew I could do it,” Grant said. “So I really just followed God about it, kept faith and trusted my work ethic and what I’ve always did.”
His teammates weren’t surprised either, for the most part. Javin Wright was an exception to that, saying that with the team’s running back rotation, he didn’t expect to see Grant break out like he did. He was particularly impressed by his ability to break tackles as he did on multiple runs.
Ajay Allen, who served as the backup in the game and had 58 yards and a touchdown of his own, said he’s been able to learn from Grant, and they push each other to perform on the field.
Defensive back Tommi Hill praised Grant’s speed, and said it’ll take more than one person to bring him down. He expressed his thoughts in a simpler fashion as well.
“That boy is a dog, I give it to him,” he said. “AG, that’s, yeah. I can’t even say no words.”
If Grant can keep up performances like the two he’s had to open the season, he’d offer Nebraska consistency it hasn’t had in years at the running back position. Coaches have described the running back battle as close before the season and during it, so it’s yet to be seen if this rotation will stick.
While he’s been honored with Play of the Game, Frost isn’t ready to cement him as the guy for the Huskers either. In future weeks, he’ll have to continue to prove himself.
“I don’t want to crown him yet,” Frost said. “I know how Nebraska is, there’s no need to clear space to retire his number or anything right now but he had a good day.”