It was a hot and sunny day in Lincoln...Husker fans were thrilled it was not a dark and stormy night. Unfortunately, the reality of the rebuild facing Husker football became all too clear. Sure Adrian Martinez was hurt, and sure, there were a few bright spots, but the mistakes were too common and a winning mentality isn’t established yet.
Frost insisted on a seven year contract, and now we see why. Most Husker fans are tired of being patient, and today didn’t give much reason for hope of a turnaround anytime this season. Remember, community guidelines still apply - you may be angry, but don’t take it out on each other. No name-calling or trolling.
All eyes were on #2, freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez. He went through warm-ups but most fans were expecting the nod to go to Andrew Bunch.
The Huskers won the toss and deferred, so we have to wait a series to see who the starting QB is.
The Blackshirts forced a three and out, thanks to a successful challenge by Coach Frost. Then Troy’s punter uncorked a 70+ yarder that went out the back of the end zone. Andrew Bunch trotted out on the field as most of us expected. The Huskers managed one first down, but Coach Frost made it clear what his game plan was when he called for a run up the middle on a third and long (the result of a sack of Bunch).
The Blackshirts recorded a sack early in Troy’s next drive, but then gave up a long pass play from Kaleb Barker to Damion Willis. The Husker defense didn’t allow much more ground and forced a field goal.
Troy 3 Nebraska 0
Nebraska’s next offensive series ended much like their early possessions a week earlier vs Colorado when Jack Stoll fumbled after making a nice catch (a dangerous throw in traffic by Bunch).
Nebraska’s defense rose to the occasion as Lamar Jackson picked off a Barker pass to Willis. Jackson was beat on the route but made a good adjustment to the ball and fighting for the TO.
The offense had one good run by Maurice Washington to get out of the shadow of the Husker’s own end zone, unfortunately they couldn’t get much going as the Troy defense was in the Husker backfield regularly.
This game has as much flow as me on a dance floor.— Brian Christopherson (@Husker247BC) September 15, 2018
It really looked like Washington fumbled the ball but a review kept the ball with the Huskers to try and convert a third and 22. Then Troy’s head coach gifted Nebraska a first down by getting an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. It is hard to blame him, I think Troy got the short end on that call.
It didn’t last long as Andrew Bunch made a bad decision to throw the ball into traffic (again) and it was picked off. The Huskers seem to think turnovers are gold coins that are burning holes in their pocket - gotta spend ‘em all.
The first quarter ends with Husker fans sweating bullets and passing around a hat to buy Adrian Martinez a bionic knee. Huskers 0 Troy 3
The quarter opened with Troy in possession of the ball at midfield. The Blackshirts forced a punt that pinned Nebraska inside the 10. Frost and Co. called all run plays, even on third and eight (and who can blame them). A one dimensional offense is allowing Troy to tee off on the run game and the offensive line is feeling the heat.
Troy returned the punt for a touchdown. The whiffed tackles on special teams were something [terrible] to behold.
I blame the shiny helmets.— Erin Sorensen (@erinsorensen) September 15, 2018
Troy 10 Nebraska 0
The Husker game found some rhythm in the run game and outside of one YOLO throw by Bunch that was nearly picked off in the end zone, the offense looked a little more like we expected. However, the drive stalled and Barrett Pickering trotted out for a 28, make that a 33 yard field goal after a delay of game penalty. The kick was no good. Pickering is now 0-2 on the season and special teams continues to be a bugaboo for the Huskers.
Troy 10 Nebraska 0
Sawyer Smith came out at QB for the Trojans and rambled 57 yards through the middle of the Blackshirt defense, putting Troy near the red zone. Mohammed Barry was called for a personal foul that was reviewed for targeting. The call was upheld and Barry was ejected. That was followed by a personal foul on Will Honas (Berry’s replacement), putting Troy into a first and goal situation.
B.J. Smith rumbled into the end zone and the PAT was good.
Troy 17 Nebraska 0
Husker Nation is in full panic mode.
Nebraska went to the passing game and Bunch connected with a wide open Stanley Morgan for a long completion. That was followed by a nice run by Washington to get Nebraska to the Troy 10 yard line. Bunch followed that with a bullet to Morgan in the back of the end zone and the red balloons finally got to fly.
Troy 17 Nebraska 7
The Blackshirts stood tall and forced a three-and-out. Deontre Thomas had a nice tackle to force the punt. The Husker offense answered with their own three-and-out and Troy got the ball back with 1:20 left in the half. Troy fumbled a snap, but was able to recover.
Troy 17 Nebraska 7
HALFTIME STATS :— 1011Sports (@1011Sports) September 15, 2018
Total Yards➡ Troy: 119 Neb: 197
Passing➡ Troy:52 Neb:92
Rushing➡ Troy: 67 Neb: 105
1st downs➡ Troy: 4 Neb: 12
Penalties➡ Troy: 3-25 Neb: 5-34
Turnovers➡ Troy: 1 Neb: 2
TOP➡ Troy: 13:03 Neb: 16:57#Huskers trail 17-7.https://t.co/50KkPShLgs
Nebraska received the second half kickoff. The Huskers put a couple good plays on the field but had to punt.
Troy’s returner muffed the punt and the Huskers recovered setting up the offense for a first and goal. Unfortunately, the Huskers couldn’t punch it in and brought out the field goal unit. Pickering made the 23 yard field goal.
Jake Sorensen’s tweet below sums up what many Husker fans were thinking as they witnessed the red zone playcalling.
That red zone drive left, um, plenty to be desired. Looked like a scared offense, no? #Huskers— Jake Sorensen (@937JakeSorensen) September 15, 2018
Troy 17 Nebraska 10
Troy moved past midfield and the Husker defense forced a fourth and 5. Troy went for it and the Trojan pass fell incomplete. Will Honas and Tre Neal each came up with big plays on that stand.
FOURTH DOWN STAND!— ❄️ Nebraska Football ❄️ (@HuskerFBNation) September 15, 2018
Mo Washington got the rock and electrified the crowd with a nice run to get Nebraska near the red zone.
Maurice Washington: 7 carries for 73 yards. 10.3 yards per pop. #Huskers— Husker Extra (@huskerextra) September 15, 2018
That was followed up by a Bunch fumble recovered by Matt Farniok and the Huskers were in a third and 22. The short pass to Mo Washington was complete and a hands-to-the-face penalty (in the pocket-not on the player who tackled Washington, although it looked like that one could have been called too) on Troy gave the Huskers a much-needed first down.
The Huskers went with tempo and it looked like J.D. Spielman walked in for a touchdown, but the play came back for a hold on Mike Williams. On third and six, Bunch kept the ball rather than giving to Spielman and went up the middle for two yards. The Huskers opted for three and Pickering made the 32 yard field goal.
Troy 17 Nebraska 13
It feels like that if the Husker offense can get the ball back, they will finally break through to the end zone. Their tempo is becoming an issue for Troy on a hot day and they are finding a few things that are working.
Troy approached midfield, but a false start penalty, a Carlos Davis sack, delay of game penalty (go Husker fans!!), and short gain ended the quarter with Troy in a third and 23.
Troy 17 Nebraska 13
The third down play only gained two or three yards. Troy’s offense got flagged for a personal foul, setting up a fourth and 36. Another fabulous punt by Troy rolled in their favor and the Huskers set up shop at the 24 yard line.
The Husker offense scratched and clawed. A nifty run by Andrew Bunch, that originally looked like a loss, gained a first down by the skin of the football’s teeth. However, they couldn’t get another and Caleb Lightbourn came out to punt. The Huskers took a delay of game and the backspin on the ball gave it a nice Troy bounce to set them up at the 38. Special teams sigh.
The Huskers allowed three third-and-nine down conversions and the clock ticked, ticked, ticked...one of the conversions was an iffy pass interference call on Aaron Williams. The Trojans entered the red zone and had a play get inside the five yard line which was called back on a holding penalty. It didn’t matter as the Red Sea parted and B.J. Smith went nearly untouched up the middle for a touchdown.
Troy 24 Nebraska 13
Nebraska’s first play on the ensuing drive started with a Bunch fumble that was fortunately recovered by Mo Washington. After another carry, Washington got up gimpy but stayed in the game. For some reason, we haven’t seen the patented Frost tempo as much as hoped this quarter. It seemed to be working earlier, but wasn’t on display now.
Mo Washington again got up gimpy after taking a helmet to the quad. He was shown on the sideline either in a great deal of pain or crying (or both). Not good for an already-decimated team. On fourth-and -eight, Bunch found the big tight end Austin Allen for a great gain. Tick Tick Tick.
Touchdown J.D. Spielman!!!! The two point conversion sailed over J.D.’s head. 2:55 left in the game.
Troy 24 Nebraska 19
The Blackshirts cannot allow a first down. Even with three Husker timeouts, Troy can take the clock down to nearly nothing if they get a first down. Fortunately, Troy did the Huskers a solid by throwing on first down - the pass sailed out of bounds as the QB was under pressure. Another baffling play call, a zone read give up the middle (I think - I’m no Hoss when it comes to X’s and O’s) gave the Blackshirts the stop they desperately needed.
Troy punted as Tyjon Lindsay waited. The booming (again) punt went out of bounds but a penalty on Troy meant that they had to do it again. Lindsay fair caught the ball at the 28.
How’s your blood pressure everyone?
Nebraska got the ball back with a chance for the comeback win.
Short version - an Andrew Bunch interception sealed the game for Troy.
Final: Troy 24 Nebraska 19
As much as Nebraska was the better team last week, they definitely were not this week.
We’re on to Michigan. Go Big Red.