Tom's Time
Photo Credit: Nebraska Athletics

Tom’s Time: An Avalanche of Points, Punctuated by a Back Flip, Against Arizona State in ’95

September 29, 2022

No Lawrence Phillips?

No problem, at least on this Saturday in 1995.

Because of a serious incident after Nebraska returned from Michigan State, Phillips was dismissed from the team. The dismissal would become a suspension. He would be allowed to return late in the season. If you want the particulars, they can easily be found on the internet.

Recounting such things isn’t the purpose of Tom’s Time, though again, the matter was serious, transcending football. Acknowledging that . . .

Phillips had been in the early Heisman Trophy conversation after rushing for 359 yards and seven touchdowns in the first two games. He averaged 10.6 yards per carry.

Without Phillips or Damon Benning, who was sidelined by injury, Clinton Childs started at I-back against Arizona State (1-1) on a 78-degree afternoon at Memorial Stadium.

The Sun Devils won the toss, about the only thing that went right for them, and deferred. Then, things fell apart. The kickoff went out of bounds, giving Nebraska the ball at its 35-yard line. On first down, Childs got the ball from Tommie Frazier and ran 65 yards for a touchdown.

Eleven seconds into the game, the Huskers led 7-0.

Arizona State went three-and-punt, and Nebraska drove 64 yards on nine plays, the ninth a 3-yard touchdown run by freshman I-back Ahman Green.

Five minutes and 7 seconds into the game, the Huskers led 14-0.

And so it went.

Frazier ran 15 yards for a touchdown, then passed to wingback Jon Vedral for 27 yards and a touchdown. The Sun Devils got on the board with a 2-yard Jake Plummer pass. Nebraska responded with an eight-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, capped by fullback Jeff Makovicka’s 13-yard run.

This isn’t a game recap. Makovicka’s touchdown came on the final play of the first quarter.

Score: Nebraska 35, Arizona State 7.

The Sun Devils did score 14 points in the second quarter, on a pair of Plummer passes. But Nebraska scored four touchdowns, Childs on a 38-yard run, Green a 26-yard run and Frazier a 3-yard run, after passing 28 yards to wingback Clester Johnson for the second of the four.

At halftime, the Huskers led 63-21, triple Arizona State’s score.

The Sun Devils outscored Nebraska in the third quarter, 7-0, but the Huskers added 14 points in the fourth quarter, on Terrell Farley’s 21-yard interception return and Matt Turman’s 39-yard pass to Lance Brown with 38 seconds remaining, on third-and-13—after Nebraska took a timeout with 45 seconds left.

Brown punctuated it by flipping his helmet aside and doing a backflip when he got to the sideline.

Therein was controversy. Why the timeout with a 70-28 lead and 45 seconds remaining?

ASU Coach Bruce Snyder was upset, Tom Osborne apologetic.

“The last touchdown was bad,” said Osborne. “It was my mistake. I apologized to Bruce, and it was something that never should’ve happened. I feel bad, and I should’ve just run a draw play.

“My apologies to Arizona State.”

Osborne’s intention had been to give more back-up players an opportunity, however briefly. Ninety-eight Huskers saw action. The pass was one of only two Turman, the No. 3 quarterback, threw, both complete. Brown, a sophomore wingback from Papillion, Nebraska, hadn’t been listed on the preseason depth chart. Like Turman, he was a walk-on.

Overall, “it was just kind of an avalanche,” Snyder said. “I’ve never been in an avalanche, but that was kind of the feeling. It was kind of that feeling of, ‘My God,’ I’m standing there and there’s nothing I can do about it. I believe the players probably felt the same way.

“You have a sense of helplessness.”

Nebraska finished with 686 yards, including 394 rushing. Childs had 143 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, Green 111 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries.

Eight other Huskers also had carries.

Frazier completed 7-of-10 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception. Johnson caught four passes for 129 yards and the touchdown.

Free safety Mike Minter led the defense with eight tackles—32 other Huskers had at least one. Jared Tomich had two tackles for loss, including the game’s only sack.

Scott Saltsman, a second-string defensive tackle from Wichita Falls, Texas, was second to Minter with six tackles, one of them for a loss.

Nebraska had 508 yards of offense, in the first half—without Phillips.

Next up: Pacific, for the last time.

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