Nebraska 7
Pittsburgh 6

Sept. 17, 2005 • Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.

1 2 3 4 T
Pittsburgh 0 0 6 0 6
Nebraska 0 7 0 0 7

No offense, but... Blocked field goals help Huskers escape

Husker walk-on Adam Ickes makes the game-saving play with his block of a field-goal attempt by Pittsburgh’s Josh Cummings. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

LINCOLN — Who knew so much could happen in seven seconds? Who would have thought seven seconds could take so long?

Not Nebraska I-back Cory Ross.

"It felt like it lasted almost a whole quarter, '' Ross said.

Not Husker quarterback Zac Taylor, who couldn't bear to watch. No matter how drawn out it became.

"I was just thinking to myself, 'How did we let it come down to this?''' Taylor said.

Forget the Gatorade shower for NU head coach Bill Callahan on Saturday. Get the Rolaids.

Nebraska outlasted Pittsburgh 7-6 in a bizarre finish that, probably not by coincidence, preceded a full moon rising over Memorial Stadium. It set off a postgame celebration that seemed strangely out of place for a win over a 0-3 opponent coming off what some called one of the worst losses in school history.

Time expired as Adam Ickes blocked a 46-yard field-goal attempt by Pittsburgh kicker Josh Cummings. Ickes said it might have been low and left; Cummings thought it had a chance.

Either way, it was prolonged agony for a crowd of 77,336 that watched Pitt drive into field goal position, sit through two Nebraska timeouts and then botch its first shot.

That play, with seven seconds left, didn't even include a kick. The snap skipped off holder Adam Graessle's helmet and right to Cummings, who considered what to do before chucking an incomplete pass.

Some Huskers rushed the field before being told there was one second on the clock and it was only third down. Callahan tried to argue intentional grounding since there was no receiver in the area.

"When I saw one second hanging on the clock, with another down to attempt another field goal, obviously I was immediately concerned, '' Callahan said.

Ickes followed with a block that he'd predicted the night before, according to roommate Stewart Bradley. It was the third miss by the Panthers, including another earlier Cummings kick that was blocked by Zach Potter and Barry Turner.

The Huskers escaped with their seventh 3-0 start in the last eight years, but what pushes them to take such chances?

"We're living on the edge,'' Taylor said. "I wouldn't say it's dangerous, but we're definitely pressing things a little bit.''

Pittsburgh wouldn't go away Saturday, but Nebraska was hardly pushing the Panthers, either.

The offense sputtered again in the second half, gaining just 34 total yards in the third quarter. The Huskers' only score came on Taylor's 1-yard run in the second quarter -- a drive that needed to cover just 39 yards.

Eleven offensive penalties helped drag down the Huskers. A chance to make it 10-6 also fell through when NU's last possession stalled and Jordan Congdon missed a 38-yard field goal with 1:28 to go.

"It was a nightmare, '' Nebraska offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said. "We had penalties on things that were so elementary.''

The Nebraska defense did its part again, limiting Pittsburgh to 304 total yards. Through three games, NU opponents have managed just 16 points.

In the Blackshirts' honor, the chant of "Defense! Defense!'' permeated as the Huskers left the field.

"I loved that,'' NU linebacker Corey McKeon said. "The fans are great. They're not dumb. They know what football is. They know what's going on.''

Pittsburgh's managed just one scoring opportunity in the first half. The Panthers chipped away some in the second half, but got inside the Husker 20-yard line just once.

Their last push included three pass completions by quarterback Tyler Palko, the last covering 26 yards to Joe DelSardo to reach the NU 29.

"We came up here and our guys wanted to win this game so bad and we played so hard,'' Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "We prepared so hard during the week, and it just hurts. It really does.''

Nebraska is off next weekend before starting Big 12 play at home against a pair of Top 25 opponents — Iowa State on Oct. 1 and Texas Tech on Oct. 8.

"I was just telling somebody that I hate these close games,'' Husker defensive end Wali Muhammad said. "But, man, that's something to build off the rest of the season. That really makes us stronger, a game like this.'


More coverage

World-Herald post-game coverage (PDF)

Game stats

Opp NU
Penalties-Yards 11-91
Rush yards 114 174
Rush attempts 36 48
Yards per carry 3.2 3.6
Pass yards 190 93
Comp.-Att.-Int. 11-28-0 10-20-0
Yards/Att. 6.8 4.7
Yards/Comp. 17.3 9.3
Fumbles 0 0

Series history

Nebraska is 6-15 all-time against Pittsburgh.

See all games »

2005 season (8-4)

Maine Sept. 3
Wake Forest Sept. 10
Pittsburgh Sept. 17
Iowa State Oct. 1
Texas Tech Oct. 8
Baylor Oct. 15
Missouri Oct. 22
Oklahoma Oct. 29
Kansas Nov. 5
Kansas State Nov. 12
Colorado Nov. 25
Michigan Dec. 28

This day in history

Nebraska has played 10 games on Sept. 17. See them all »

©2019 BH Media Group