No. 4 Nebraska 20, S. Miss. 13
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ Linebacker Julius Jackson returned a fumble and an interception for touchdowns as No. 4 Nebraska’s defense made up for a poor offensive showing with a 20-13 win over Southern Mississippi on Saturday.
Southern Miss (2-1) outgained Nebraska 293 yards to 185 and threatened to tie it with 1:17 left in the game, but Keyuo Craver intercepted Jeff Kelly at the Nebraska 1-yard line and the Huskers (3-0) avoided the upset. It was Craver’s second interception of the game.
Kelly was 23-for-45 for 268 yards to lead Southern Miss, but also threw four interceptions and fumbled once.
The game was Nebraska’s first since coach Frank Solich moved Bobby Newcombe, who started the first two games at quarterback, to wingback and replaced him with Eric Crouch. The move didn’t spark Nebraska’s offense, which turned the ball over five times.
Crouch threw two interceptions and running back Dan Alexander _ starting his first game this season in place of DeAngelo Evans, who quit the team last week _ fumbled twice and rushed for 54 yards on 16 carries.
Crouch was 6-for-10 passing for 66 yards and ran for 26 yards on 16 attempts. Newcombe dropped the only pass thrown to him and botched a punt return that led to the first offensive touchdown scored on Nebraska this year.
The Huskers’ defense saved the offense. Nebraska held Southern Miss to 25 yards rushing, sacked Kelly five times and pressured the first-year starter all game.
Midway through the first quarter, Kyle Vanden Bosch hit Kelly from the blind side and knocked the ball loose. Jackson scooped it up at the Southern Miss 16-yard line and ran untouched into the end zone. Nebraska led 6-0 after a missed extra point.
Jackson scored again in the fourth quarter when Craver tipped Kelly’s high into the air and Jackson caught it at the Southern Miss 28-yard line and ran it in.
Nebraska scored its only offensive touchdown of the game in the second quarter on Willie Miller’s 8-yard run. Miller had eight carries for 38 yards.
Newcombe, who hadn’t played wingback or returned punts since his freshman season two years ago, looked rusty at both positions. He couldn’t hang on to a pass when Crouch hit him in stride in the end zone and botched his only punt return.
Newcombe missed catching the punt late in the first quarter around the Nebraska 40-yard line, then kicked the ball as he tried to pick it up and Southern Miss recovered at its own 45.
Kelly then led the Eagles on a six-play drive, capped by an 8-yard pass to Todd Pinkston to give the Eagles a 7-6 lead with 52 seconds left in the first period _ the first time Nebraska trailed this season.
Kelly put the Eagles up 13-12 early in the third quarter with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Sherrod Gideon.
Pinkston caught 11 passes for 163 yards.