Lincoln – The Nebraska defense produced another strong performance, and Adrian Martinez used several big plays with his arm and legs to lead the Cornhuskers to a 28-3 victory over Buffalo on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
The Big Red improved to 2-1 with the win in front of the 377th consecutive sellout on a 90-plus degree day at Memorial Stadium, while Buffalo slipped to 1-1. The Bulls scored 69 points in their season-opening win over Wagner, but the Blackshirts kept Buffalo out of the end zone for 60 minutes in an impressive performance.
Martinez completed 13-of-19 passes for 242 yards, including a pair of 68-yard touchdown passes to Samori Toure. The first hook-up with Toure came late in the first half to send Nebraska to the locker room with a 14-0 halftime lead. The second came on the first play of a fourth quarter drive that followed a missed 50-yard field goal attempt by the Bulls that would have cut NU’s lead to two scores with just over six minutes left.
Midway through the second quarter, Martinez unleashed a spectacular 71-yard scamper after initially avoiding what appeared to be a certain sack in the backfield on 3rd and 5 from the NU 25. Martinez’s run set up a quick 2-yard touchdown by true freshman running back Gabe Ervin Jr.
Martinez finished the first half 7-of-9 through the air for 116 yards, while carrying the ball six times for 110 yards. His 226 total yards in the first half came on just 15 total attempts, an average of better than 15 yards per play. He finished the game with 354 total yards on 28 attempts, including nine carries for 112 yards.
Nebraska’s final margin could have been greater had Martinez’s apparent 26-yard touchdown pass to Toure on 4th and 3 on the fourth play of the second quarter not been called back because of an offensive pass interference penalty. Later in the second quarter, an apparent 56-yard touchdown pass to Zavier Betts was wiped off by a holding call on the offensive line. The Huskers also had an apparent touchdown taken off the board on their final drive when quarterback Logan Smothers pitched the ball down the 11-yard line on an option to Will Nixon, who sprinted into the end zone. An illegal forward pass was called, and the call stood upon an official review.
On the day, the two teams combined for six missed field goals – three by each team.
None of the adversity appeared to shake the Blackshirts, who got a huge play in the fourth quarter to help the Huskers take complete control of the outcome.
Linebacker Luke Reimer deflected a pass by Kyle Vantrease that bounded into the air. Reimer adjusted to the ball and plucked it from the air, then broke tackles and tip-toed down the Buffalo sideline for a 22-yard return before stepping out of bounds at the Buffalo 1. One play later, Ervin Jr. blasted his way into the end zone for his second short touchdown run of the day to put the Big Red up 21-3 just 13 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Reimer finished with a huge game that included a game and career-high 16 tackles, including seven solo stops, to go along with his interception. Fellow linebacker Nick Henrich added eight tackles and a pair of hurries, while JoJo Domann contributed five stops, including a TFL, and a hurry of his own.
Ervin finished with 10 carries for 56 yards and two scores, while Sevion Morrison contributed eight carries for 24 yards. Markese Stepp added nine carries for 17 yards. Overall the Huskers amassed 220 rushing yards on 41 carries, while adding 296 yards through the air, including a 54-yard connection between Smothers and tight end Chris Hickman on the final drive.
Hickman finished with career highs of three receptions for 90 yards. Toure finished with two receptions for 136 yards on his two 68-yard touchdown catches, marking his second straight 100-yard receiving day.
The Huskers return to road action next week when they travel to Norman to take on Oklahoma. Kickoff between the Huskers and Sooners is set for 11 a.m. (CT)