Nebraska sneaks past K-State, 21-3

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) -- Nebraska gambled and won on a pair of tricky fourth-down calls, beating Kansas State 21-3 on Saturday night and snapping the 21st-ranked Cornhuskers' four-game losing streak in Manhattan.

 

The Huskers (6-1, 3-0 Big 12) earned the program's 800th victory and took over sole possession of the Big 12 North lead after No. 19 Missouri lost 25-19 at Texas A&M.

 

Kansas State (4-3, 1-2) had not lost at home to Nebraska since a 39-3 defeat on Oct. 5, 1996.

 

Nebraska's first touchdown, a 17-yard pass play less than four minutes into the game, came on a fake field goal. Holder Jake Wesch, a backup kicker who played quarterback in high school, rolled right and found reserve tight end Hunter Teafatiller all alone just outside the end zone for a 7-0 lead.

 

And on the Cornhuskers' first drive of the second quarter, Zac Taylor's 24-yard bootleg on fourth-and-2 from Kansas State's 27 set up a 3-yard TD pass to Josh Mueller -- also a backup tight end -- for a 14-0 lead.

 

Marlon Lucky's 40-yard TD burst up the middle made it 21-0 shortly before the midpoint of the third quarter.

 

That score, capping a two-play, 72-yard drive, came after wide receiver Maurice Purify appeared to fumble the ball away after a 32-yard catch from Taylor. But on review, officials said Purify's left knee was down before the ball came out.

 

It was the first of two calls overturned on review Saturday night, and both changes went the Huskers' way. The other review changed an incomplete pass call into a diving interception by defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh.

 

Late losses kept Nebraska from matching its Big 12-leading average of 210.7 yards rushing, but Brandon Jackson still ran for 92 yards and Lucky for 71 as Nebraska finished with 190 yards on the ground. The Huskers' Blackshirts defense, meanwhile, smothered Kansas State freshman running back Leon Patton.

 

Patton, who had 151 yards and a touchdown last week in Kansas State's 31-27 victory over Oklahoma State, finished with 12 yards on 13 carries and was twice turned away near Nebraska's goal line.

 

Midway through the fourth quarter, Patton's 3-yard carry on second-and-goal left the Wildcats just 1 yard from the end zone. But the Huskers stuffed him for a 2-yard loss on third down and Josh Freeman's fourth-down pass to Jordy Nelson fell incomplete.

 

The Wildcats, who came in averaging 116.2 yards rushing, had 22 on Saturday night -- 16 yards fewer than their longest ground gain. That came on the Wildcats' own trick play, when backup tight end Daniel Gonzalez took a short snap in punt formation and ran 38 yards.

 

With Patton ineffective, the Wildcats turned to Freeman, a freshman who went back on an oral commitment to Nebraska to attend Kansas State. He spent the night under heavy pressure and was sacked four times, completing 23 of 47 passes for 272 yards with two interceptions.

 

Jeff Snodgrass' 53-yard field goal in the third quarter kept Kansas State from being shut out for the first time since a 12-0 loss at Colorado on Nov. 16, 1996. Snodgrass missed from the same distance as time ran out in the first half.