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No. 5 Nebraska Beats Oklahoma

By Owen Canfield
AP Sports Writer
Saturday, November 2, 1996 4:48 pm EST

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Nebraska handed Oklahoma its worst loss ever Saturday. There's no telling how bad it would have gotten if the Cornhuskers' offense was rolling.

No. 5 Nebraska, after being held scoreless for a quarter and a half, went on to win 73-21 and beat Oklahoma for the sixth year in a row.

Nebraska totaled 387 yards, well below its 441-yard average. Its 208 yards on the ground were nearly 100 below average.

``I guess when you win 70-something to 21 and you say, `Well the key to the game was the defense,' it doesn't make a lot of sense,'' Nebraska coach Tom Osborne said. ``But obviously we played very well defensively through most of the game.''

The Cornhuskers (7-1, 5-0 Big 12) limited Oklahoma to 89 yards through the first three quarters, 275 overall. They also intercepted four passes, one of which was returned 83 yards for a touchdown by freshman cornerback Ralph Brown.

The 52-point margin surpassed the Sooners' 47-point loss to Oklahoma A&M in 1945, and the 73 points were the most ever against Oklahoma. Kansas State held the previous mark, 59 in 1969.

``We struggled offensively all day. We got nothing done,'' coach John Blake said. ``Their defense beat us up. We thought our defense could play with them if we got some help from our offense, but we didn't.''

Justin Fuente was sacked on Oklahoma's first play, and things got no better for Oklahoma (2-6, 2-3). Fuente was replaced by Eric Moore, then returned again later and threw interceptions on two straight possessions.

Oklahoma scored all its points in the fourth quarter, on runs of 34, 17 and 51 yards by De'Mond Parker. Before that, Nebraska had gone 27 straight quarters without allowing a rushing touchdown.

``We just couldn't get our running game going,'' said halfback James Allen, who had 32 yards on 15 carries. ``We really didn't have time to throw. Eric and Justin were running for their lives back there. It's hard to make plays in that situation.''

After being held scoreless in the first quarter, Nebraska scored 17 in the second, 28 in the third and 28 in the fourth.

Scott Frost threw third-quarter TD passes of 41 yards to Lance Brown and 10 yards to Jon Vedral, then added a 51-yarder to Jeff Lake early in the fourth to make it 52-0.

Oklahoma kept Nebraska out of the end zone and held the Cornhuskers to 7 yards in the first quarter, but the Sooners' offense was shut down as well and never did get going against Nebraska's starters.

Nebraska took advantage of Oklahoma mistakes to score 17 second-quarter points and remove any doubt about the outcome.

Oklahoma's Jarrail Jackson muffed a punt return that Chad Kelsay recovered for Nebraska at the Sooners 17. That led to a 25-yard field goal by Chris Brown.

Nebraska linebacker Jay Foreman made a one-handed interception on Oklahoma's next possession to set the Cornhuskers up at the 19. Three plays later, DeAngelo Evans scored on a 1-yard run.

On the play before Evans' TD, tight end Vershan Jackson was ruled down after making a catch although replays showed he fumbled and Oklahoma recovered. Blake said that play was crucial.

``I thought that play turned the game around,'' he said.

Nebraska made it 17-0 about three minutes later when Ahman Green scored on a 4-yard run to cap a four-play, 35-yard drive.

The Cornhuskers' four touchdowns in the third quarter came on the interception by Brown and on drives that covered 71, 24 and 17 yards. The last two came after interceptions.

Jay Sims scored twice in the fourth quarter, and Kenny Cheatham returned a kickoff 85 yards for yet another score.

Nebraska's defense didn't allow Oklahoma to take advantage of opportunities when it was still a game.

An interception on Nebraska's first drive of the third quarter gave Oklahoma the ball at the Cornhuskers 42. But a holding penalty on first down pushed the Sooners back and the drive ended with Brown's big interception return.

Later, Oklahoma had first downs at the Nebraska 27 and 23, but both drives ended with missed field goals.

© Copyright 1996 The Associated Press

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