(San Diego) – Washington held Nebraska to less than 100 yards rushing and 189 overall in a 19-7 win Thursday night before 57, 921 at the Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium.
This was in stark contrast to a 56-21 Washington loss to the Cornhuskers in September in which Nebraska piled up over 500 total yards including 383 on the ground.
Washington quarterback Jake Locker threw for only 72 yards himself and didn’t complete his first pass until the third quarter but it was Chris Polk who carried the load. Polk had 34 carries for 176 yards and a touchdown – a three yard jaunt in the first quarter that gave the Huskies a 7-0 lead.
Polk capped a three play 21 yard drive that was set up a Nebraska turnover. Victor Aiyewa forced a fumble by Cornhusker back Rex Burkhead. Washington’s Alameda Ta’amu scooped up the ball like a second baseman and rumbled 14 yards down to the Nebraska 21. Three plays later, Polk was in the end zone.
“Scoring early and getting the lead was big. It showed that we are here and we belong,” said Washington Coach Steve Sarkisian.
Later in the quarter Eric Folk booted a 39 yard field goal to put the Dawgs up 10-0.
Nebraska, ranked number 18 and a two touchdown favorite coming into the game, finally got on the board late in the second quarter.
Taylor Martinez, from Corona Centennial High School, led the Huskers on a ten play, 74 yard drive to cut the lead to 10-7. Martinez found Kyler Reed on a 15 yard touchdown strike to finish the march.
The score remained that way as the teams went into halftime. Washington immediately went to work in the third quarter. Locker missed on his first six passes but his first completion was huge. He connected with D’Andre Goodwin for 26 yards down to the Nebraska 25. On the next play Locker shredded the Nebraska defense on a 25 yard touchdown run breaking several tackles along the way.
The Huskies had a golden opportunity to go up by 17 early in the fourth quarter but Nebraska completed a goal line stand as Polk was stopped at the one yard line on fourth down and the Huskers took over.
On third down at the two yard line Nebraska was called for a holding penalty in the end zone resulting in a safety for Washington to increase the advantage to 19-7.
Nebraska had two more possessions in the fourth quarter but was unable to produce and Washington ate up the last 3:14 with two first downs.
Martinez completed 7 of 9 for 53 yards and a score. He also was intercepted once. Cody Green, who came on in the second half when Martinez got banged up, went 3 of 12 for 45 yards.
Locker rushed 13 times for 85 yards as the Huskies ran for 268 yards overall. Washington outgained Nebraska 340 to 189.
“This is why he came back,” Sarkisian said of Locker who passed up the NFL draft last spring to return for his senior season. “The reality is money is money but these experiences last a lifetime I’m happy for him.”
Washington, who was 0-12 just two years ago, finished the year at 7-6. Nebraska ended the season at 10-4.
Nebraska 0 7 0 0 7
Washington 10 0 7 2 19
W 9:08 Polk 3 yd run (Folk Kick)
W 1:29 Folk 39 yd FG
N 10:24 Reed 15 yd pass from Martinez (Alex Henery Kick)
W 13:18 Locker 25 yd run (Folk Kick)
W 13:38 Team- Safety