Nebraska completes comeback
LINCOLN, Neb. - The fans who criticized Taylor Martinez all week and booed him before halftime were cheering wildly for him after the biggest comeback in Nebraska history.
Martinez ran for a touchdown and passed for two others while bringing No. 14 Nebraska back from a 21-point second-half deficit, and the Cornhuskers defeated Ohio State, 34-27, last night in the first Big Ten game at Memorial Stadium.
Rex Burkhead scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 17-yard run with 5:10 left.
“Everyone wants to doubt him,’’ coach Bo Pelini said of his sophomore quarterback. “You can write what you want. You can attack him, the fans. Now you’ll praise him.’’
Ohio State (3-3, 0-2 Big Ten) built a 27-6 lead behind freshman quarterback Braxton Miller, who sprained his right ankle in the third quarter and did not return. The Buckeyes’ offense went dormant with backup Joe Bauserman.
Miller ran for 91 yards and completed 5 of 8 passes for 95 yards before he got hurt. Bauserman completed only one of his 10 passes the rest of the way.
Huskers star linebacker Lavonte David stripped the ball from Miller in the middle of third quarter to start the rally.
“That was the turning point of the game,’’ Pelini said.
And then Martinez took over. He ran 18 yards for a touchdown, threw a 36-yard TD pass to Quincy Enunwa and tied it with a 30-yard catch-and-run to Burkhead.
Martinez ran for 102 yards and completed 16 of 22 passes for 191 yards for Nebraska (5-1, 1-1). Burkhead ran 26 times for 119 yards.
Carlos Hyde led the Buckeyes with 104 yards rushing.
The biggest deficit Nebraska had overcome previously was 17 points, most recently against Texas A&M in 2002.
Martinez lashed out Monday at fans and media who ripped him for throwing three interceptions in last week’s 48-17 loss at Wisconsin, and teammates lined up to defend him.
When he threw an interception late in the second quarter, boos cut through the rain at Memorial Stadium.
An upset looked to be brewing in the first half, and the Buckeyes’ momentum continued to roll when Hyde scored from a yard out to give Ohio State a 27-6 lead early in the third quarter.
Then David, who made 13 tackles, changed the game with the forced fumble.
Martinez scored two plays later, going untouched up the middle on a zone read to pull the Huskers to 27-13.
Martinez threw a perfect strike to Enunwa to pull the Huskers within a touchdown. Martinez freelanced in the backfield before dumping off to Burkhead, who dodged a tackler and went 30 yards for the tying touchdown with 7:35 left.
C.J. Barnett was called for a facemask on Martinez during the Huskers’ winning drive, and Burkhead ran for 22 yards before breaking free for the go-ahead score.