Lincoln – Nebraska produced a dominant and balanced performance with more than 300 yards on the ground and through the air on its way to a 52-7 win over Fordham on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Playing in front of the NCAA-record 376th consecutive sellout, which featured nearly 86,000 in attendance for Nebraska’s first home game with fans since Nov. 29, 2019, Adrian Martinez completed 17-of-23 passes for 254 yards and one touchdown, while adding eight carries for 33 yards and two more scores to help the Big Red even its record at 1-1 on the season.
Martinez engineered a Husker offense that rolled up well over 600 yards of total offense, including 327 rushing and 304 passing yards. Markese Stepp led the Big Red ground game with 101 yards on 18 carries, while Sevion Morrison added 31 yards on nine carries including a pair of short touchdown runs. Seven different Huskers finished with at least 25 rushing yards in the game.
Samori Toure pitched in a big game for Nebraska with eight receptions for 133 yards, while adding three carries for 35 yards including a touchdown run. Tight end Austin Allen hauled in four catches for 61 yards, while Omar Manning had three receptions for 54 yards.
Martinez helped the Huskers build a 38-7 lead midway through the third quarter, before Logan Smotherstook the field at quarterback. The freshman from Muscle Shoals, Ala., led the Huskers on a successful scoring drive and had the Big Red knocking on the door on his second drive early in the fourth quarter before a fumble ended the Nebraska threat deep inside Fordham territory. Smothers bounced back to lead another long scoring drive on his third possession, capped by Marvin Scott III’s six-yard touchdown run to make it 52-7 Huskers with 1:43 left in the game.
Overall, Nebraska rushed the ball 64 times and the Husker rushing total likely would have been far greater if not for an historic defensive performance by Fordham’s Ryan Greenhagen. The senior middle linebacker from Sparta, N.J., became the first opposing defender in the history of Nebraska football to record 30 tackles against the Huskers. His record-breaking final tackle came on Fordham’s last stop of the day, just before Scott’s touchdown run. Greenhagen’s tackle total tied the Memorial Stadium record set by Husker Clete Pillen against Oklahoma State on Nov. 6, 1976.
Nebraska’s defense surrendered just 292 total yards on the afternoon, holding Fordham to 129 rushing yards on 28 carries. The Rams managed 163 passing yards, as Tim DeMorat completed 18-of-30 passes but was intercepted three times by the Blackshirts. Deontai Williams pulled down two of the interceptions for the Huskers, while adding four tackles. JoJo Domann snagged the other interception while pitching in five stops.
Nebraska led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter thanks to a four-yard touchdown run by Martinez with 3:59 left in the period. Fordham tied the score early in the second quarter on DeMorat’s 31-yard touchdown pass to Fotis Kokosioulis with 14:14 left in the first half.
After that, it was all Huskers. Connor Culp put Nebraska on top less than three minutes later with his 39-yard field goal to make it 10-7. Martinez then pushed NU’s lead to 17-7 with his second four-yard scoring run of the day to make it 17-7 with 3:56 left in the half. The Big Red’s lead grew to 24-7 at the half after Sevion Morrison’s one-yard touchdown blast with 29 seconds remaining before halftime.
Nebraska’s defense continued to put the clamps down on the Rams before Martinez connected with Chancellor Brewington on a two-yard touchdown pass to make it 31-7 with 8:24 left in the third. NU extended the margin to 38-7 less than five minutes later when Toure took an option pitch from Martinez and scampered into the end zone from eight yards out.
The Huskers ran 95 plays compared to just 58 for the Rams, and Nebraska dominated time of possession 36:00-24:00. Nebraska was also penalized just two times for 10 yards.
The Huskers return to home action next week when they take on Buffalo. Kickoff at Memorial Stadium is set for 2:30 p.m. (CT)