COLUMBIA, Mo. — Heavily favored Nebraska never tagged Missouri with a knockout punch, but Dale Klein’s fancy footwork saved the day.
Klein, a junior walk-on from Seward, Neb., set an NCAA record by kicking seven field goals in as many attempts. Nebraska, favored by 30 points over the winless Tigers, used Klein’s kicks to beat Missouri 28-20 before 62,733 Saturday at Faurot Field.
Klein hit field goals of 32, 22, 43, 44, 29, 43 and 43 yards. His final field goal came with 4:16 left in the game to give Nebraska a 28-13 lead. Klein’s seven field goals tied the NCAA record for most field goals in a game, set last year by Mike Prindle of Western Michigan. Klein’s first five field goals came in the first half another NCAA record and gave the Huskers a 15-7 halftime lead.
The Huskers needed all of Klein’s bull’s-eyes. Nebraska’s offense, averaging 40 points and 496 yards per game, collected 383 yards on 320 rushing and 63 yards passing, but usually ground to a halt against Missouri’s fired-up defense. Nebraska’s inability to score touchdowns provided Klein with his shot at the record books.
“I didn’t really care about the record,” Klein said. “I just wanted us to win the game.”
Nebraska, ranked sixth by United Press International and seventh by Associated Press, raised its record to 5-1 and 2-0 in Big Eight Conference play. Missouri lost its sixth straight game under new head coach Woody Widenhofer, making it the worst start in 30 years for the Tigers.
It wasn’t until Nebraska’s Doug DuBose broke loose on a 22-yard touchdown run with 7:52 left in the game that Missouri finally showed signs of cracking. DuBose’s score with Klein’s PAT kick increased Nebraska’s lead to 25-13 and finally allowed the Huskers to take a deep breath.
DuBose rushed for a career-high 199 yards on 29 bruising carries.
“Everything came hard today,” DuBose said. “Mizzou played hard today.”
The game’s pivotal play came with 10:32 left in the game. Trailing 18-13, Missouri faced a third and two at its 40. But quarterback Marlon Adler, in for injured starter Warren Seitz, fumbled the snap and Nebraska linebacker Mike Knox recovered at the Missouri 39. Three plays later, DuBose broke loose for his 22-yard touchdown and the Tigers lost much of their snarl.
With 4:16 left in the game, Klein booted his record-setting seventh field goal to make it 28-13. Missouri’s final touchdown came on the last play of the game when Adler hit Patrick Overshown with a 24-yard scoring pass.
“I said coming into the game that Missouri was better than 0-5,” Nebraska head coach Tom Osborne said. “They should have won a couple or three games. Missouri has fine offensive players. They played with a lot of emotion.”
It was Missouri’s defense, though, that kept the upset-minded Tigers in the game. Every time the Huskers appeared ready to score a touchdown, the Tigers turned them away.
“This was just a day our offense couldn’t get anything going,” Osborne said.
Most of the time, the Huskers did just fine getting under way.
They just couldn’t finish any drives with touchdowns.
Klein’s first field goal, a 32-yarder, gave Nebraska a 3-0 lead with 7:27 left in the first period. Missouri, though, stunned the Huskers with a swift counterpunch.
Seitz, making his first start of the year, arched a 33-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Victor Moore and with 6:37 left in the first quarter, Missouri led 7-3.
Moore beat Husker cornerback Brian Davis on the play, backtracking to catch the underthrown pass at the 4-yard line. He shrugged off a tackle attempt by the off-balance Davis and slipped into the end zone.
Davis, frustrated by the play’s outcome, stood with hands on hips, glaring in Moore’s direction as the Tiger receiver celebrated.
The Huskers struck back. Paul Miles, in for DuBose, raced 40 yards to the Missouri 11, but in three plays, Nebraska couldn’t reach the end zone. Klein’s 22-yard field goal made it 7-6 with 3:52 left in the first quarter.
A 51-yard burst by DuBose early in the second quarter set up Klein’s third field goal, a 43-yarder, and the Huskers took a 9-7 lead.
Moments later, Husker linebacker Kevin Parsons slammed into Seitz while the Tiger quarterback was throwing and safety Chris Carr picked off the pass at Missouri’s 43 and returned the interception to the Tiger 32. Four plays later, Klein nailed a 44-yarder and it was 12-7.
Parsons, replacing injured Marc Munford who sat out the game, finished with 14 tackles, a fumble recovery and a sack.
Nebraska’s defense sacked Missouri quarterbacks seven times for losses of 55 yards. Husker tackle Jim Skow got four of those sacks for 33 yards in losses.
Klein got his fifth field goal of the first half, a 29-yarder, with just 1:29 left in the half, to give Nebraska a 15-7 halftime lead.
Missouri’s game plan short, quick passes and aggressive defense
paid off in the third quarter. Missouri held Nebraska on the first series of the second half and then drove 73 yards in 10 plays to score its second touchdown.
Seitz got the score on a 13-yard scramble. With all of his receivers covered, Seitz rolled to his right and used a good block from fullback Jon Redd to pull the Tigers within 15-13 with 11:27 left in the third quarter.
“We had Nebraska confused early the quick throws to the outside and the rollouts,” Widenhofer said. “Warren did a good job scrambling, getting some first downs.”
Missouri, after calling timeout, lined up to try for a two-point conversion, but Seitz fumbled the snap and the play was smothered.
In all, Missouri botched four center snaps and each time it proved costly.
“I don’t know if it was the center or the quarterback,” Widenhofer said. “Marlon had two fumbles and Warren had two. Two of those fumbles came after timeouts and it was unfortunate because we had things set up.”
Tiger safety Erik McMillan twice intercepted passes from Nebraska quarterback McCathorn Clayton in the third quarter, prompting Osborne to bring in senior Travis Turner with 3:01 left in the third period.
A 30-yard sprint by DuBose again put the Huskers with Klein’s range and he kicked a 43-yarder to make it 18-13 with 25 seconds left in the third quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, Seitz bruised his right elbow and Adler replaced him.
Nebraska punter Dan Wingard, who averaged 54 yards on four punts, kept Missouri bottled up most of the second half. All but one of Nebraska’s possessions in the fourth quarter started in Missouri territory.
But Adler finally got the Tigers out to their own 40, only to fumble to Knox. DuBose’s 22-yard touchdown run three plays later was the clincher.
Missouri finished with 401 total yards, including 245 through the air. Seitz and Adler combined to hit 17 of 32 passes, but Nebraska picked off two passes and recovered two Missouri fumbles. The Tigers hurt themselves with penalties. Six penalties cost Missouri 53 yards.
The penalty that hurt worst came in the third quarter with Nebraska leading 15-13. Seitz hit tight end Pat Thetford with an apparent 38-yard pass to Nebraska’s 21, but a holding penalty wiped out the play.
Nebraska’s passing game sputtered. Clayton hit just 1 of 8 throws for 19 yards. Turner connected on 2 of 7 passes for 44 yards. “Certainly, we didn’t pass as well as we’d hoped,” Osborne said.
Nebraska, though, managed to escape with a win over a Missouri team that might have played its best game of the season.
Widenhofer said he was pleased with the Tigers’ performance despite the loss.
“If someone would have told me before the game that if we had three touchdowns to their one, I would have felt like we would have won the game,” Widenhofer said. “We just ran into a hot field-goal kicker. He just split ’em.”
|Yards per carry||2.2||5.3|
Nebraska is 65-36 all-time against Missouri.
|Florida State||Sept. 7|
|New Mexico||Oct. 5|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 12|
|Kansas State||Nov. 2|
|Iowa State||Nov. 9|
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