Watch CBS News

Defense Saves No. 4 Nebraska

If Nebraska coach Frank Solich has any more offensive changes in mind, he might consider giving linebacker Julius Jackson a look.

It was Jackson who scored two touchdowns as No. 4 Nebraska overcame its worst offensive game of the season and got past Southern Mississippi 20-13.

"After I scored, I was like, they need to move me to offense," said the 6-foot-4, 240-pound Jackson, who scored on a fumble and a deflected pass. "This was a dream game for anybody on defense, to be able to intercept the ball and run it back for two touchdowns."

"It hasn't hit me yet, but it will."

The Huskers (3-0) gave up 209 passing yards by Jeff Kelly, but also forced five turnovers and held the Golden Eagles (2-1) to 25 yards rushing. Derrick Nix ran for 70 yards, but Kelly was sacked five times for minus-45.

Related Links

Game summary

  • Alumni Tracker
  • Heisman Watch
  • Southern Miss threatened to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, but Kelly's pass to the Nebraska 1 was intercepted by Keyuo Craver with 1:17 left to play. It was the second interception of the game for Craver, who tipped the pass that Jackson returned for a TD.

    Eagles coach Jeff Bower said his team was just a play or two away from an upset.

    "Lots of people will ask, `What's wrong with Nebraska?' Well, give us credit. We have a good team," Bower said.

    Nebraska needed a big day from its defense, because the offense never got going. Earlier in the week, 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 and gained just 183 yards. It was the second straight week Nebraska, which rushed for 114 yards last week in a 45-0 shutout of California, struggled offensively.

    "It's obvious we didn't play well across the board on the offensive end of it," Solich said. "I'm concerned that this is two weeks in a row we've not been able to run the ball."

    "The passig game was OK in the first (Cal) ball game, but this one we had a tough time. We had five fumbles, lost three, and any time you have that happen, you're in big trouble."

    Crouch threw two interceptions and running back Dan Alexander, starting his first game after DeAngelo Evans quit the team last week, fumbled twice and rushed for 54 yards on 16 carries.

    Newcombe dropped the only pass thrown to him and botched a punt return that led to the first touchdown scored by an offense against Nebraska this year.

    "Nebraska has made a name for itself hassling the quarterback and getting into his face. We knew that going in," Kelly said. "You have to get the ball off quick."

    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.

    "It must have bounced off his face mask five or six times before he got it," Nebraska defensive co-ordinator Charlie McBride said. "But I know one thing: The world sprint champion couldn't have caught him. When he caught that thing he was rolling."

    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 onto a pass when Crouch hit him in stride in the end zone.

    Newcombe missed catching the punt late in the first quarter around the Nebraska 40, then kicked the ball as he tried to pick it up and Southern Miss recovered at its 45.

    Kelly then led the Eagles on a six-play drive, capped by an 8-yard pass to Todd Pinkston for a 7-6 lead with 52 seconds left in the first period. It was the first time Nebraska trailed this season.

    Kelly put the Eagles up 13-12 early in the third quarter with a 5-yard pass to Sherrod Gideon.

    Pinkston caught 11 passes for 163 yards.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

    View CBS News In
    CBS News App Open
    Chrome Safari Continue
    Be the first to know
    Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.