Huskers tame Lions in second half

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By Aaron Bowles, NewsNetNebraska

Videos by Brandon Aksamit, NewsNetNebraska

Photos by Lorena Carmona, NewsNetNebraska

Nebraska pulled off another second half comeback, stealing a 32-23 victory from conference rival Penn State at Memorial Stadium Saturday. The Huskers (5-1 in the Big 10, 8-2 overall) rallied in the second half after being down 20-6 at halftime. The win is the fourth second half comeback the team has posted this year.

Imani Cross, the freshman I-back, celebrates with several Husker players after scoring a touchdown to tie the game Nov. 10, 2012 against the Penn State Nittany Lions.

The Huskers managed to tie the game up in the beginning of the third quarter. A 75-yard drive featured two big plays: a 22-yard pass from quarterback Taylor Martinez to receiver Kenny Bell, and a 21-yard rush up the middle by Martinez. The drive was capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by freshman tailback Imani Cross to cut the lead in half.

Cross would find the end zone again from 2 yards out after safety Daimion Stafford intercepted Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin and set the Nebraska offense up at the four-yard line.

The interception was one of three turnovers forced by the Blackshirts in the game.

“Obviously we played a lot better in the second half than the first half,” Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini said. “In all phases, I felt we left some things out there in the first half.”

Daimion Stafford (3) stops Penn State's running back Zach Zwinak from scoring in the final quarter.

In the first half, Martinez used his legs to convert several third downs, but the offense could not find its way into the end zone. Even after linebacker Will Compton forced a fumble, the offense could only muster a field goal.

“We just kept getting negative yards on the first play (inside the 10-yard line),” said Martinez.

Along with getting stopped behind the line of scrimmage, Nebraska also committed several costly penalties throughout the night, finishing with seven flags for 55 yards.

Special teams also cost the Huskers in the first half. In the second quarter, Nebraska punt returner Tim Marlowe fumbled a 39-yard punt to the Nebraska 31, giving Penn State a short field, which it converted into a field goal. Punter Brett Maher also struggled in the second quarter, recording punts of 35, 30 and 16 yards.

Maher however, made up for his early mistakes by booting a 69-yard punt out of bounds at the Penn State 2-yard line with the Huskers leading 27-23 and 5:31 left on the clock.

“He needed to make that punt,” Pelini said. “Considering he put us in a bad position.”

The ensuing Penn State drive ended with a safety after pressure from defensive tackle Cameron Meredith caused quarterback Matt McGloin to commit intentional grounding in the end zone.

“It’s not easy to get to him,” Pelini said of McGloin.

Jamal Turner, sophomore wide receiver, lands the ball into the Husker end zone scoring a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

A Maher field goal sealed the game.

The offense managed to post 267 total yards rushing, with 116 from running back Ameer Abdullah, and 104 from Martinez. The game marks the fourth time this year that both players have had 100 yards rushing in a game together.

The defense, while giving up 240 passing yards and 151 rushing yards, recovered two fumbles and had one interception. Coming into the game, Penn State was No. 1 in the Big 10 in turnover margin, and had only one previous game with more than one turnover. Nebraska was last in the conference in turnover margin at -1 before the game.

The final turnover was the biggest, as tight end Matt Lehman had the ball knocked out of his hands at the goal line with 8:57 left in the game. Officials ruled the play a fumble, giving the Huskers the ball at the 20. Commentators on radio and TV both expected the play to be overturned by replay, but it wasn’t.

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