Taggart still managed to wear a 2-0 smile after Jim Leavitt's defense did the heavy lifting down the stretch to deliver Oregon's 42-35 victory over the Cornhuskers in front of a blended red and yellow crowd of 58,389 on Saturday at Autzen Stadium.
New quarterback Tanner Lee threw for two scores and no interceptions in his Nebraska debut, but forced a few throws as well.
OR then immediately responded, putting together a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, which was capped off by senior running back Royce Freeman. Freeman had a 28-yard run in the drive. Obviously the Ducks were the better squad in that contest, piling up 703 yards of total offense.
The Blackshirts piggybacked off the success of the offense, forcing OR to go three-and-out on their first drive of the game. Fellow senior Kani Benoit's two career 100-yard games came a year ago against the Huskers and last week. Defensive back Aaron Williams intercepted a pass early in the third quarter, and defensive back Antonio Reed forced a Freeman fumble, which Williams recovered.
OR stretched its lead out to 28-14 with 7:10 left in the second quarter with a one-yard run from Freeman. The defense again came through with a three-and-out to put the ball in the hands of the Husker offense.
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The spread for this game favored the Ducks by 10.5 points. Runs like 15 yards or long pass plays are big. Instead, Lee threw his fourth interception of the game to end it. At one point, OR led 42-14 at the half.
But the first-half scoring binge Diaco's defense allowed proved decisive. Nelson had six receptions for 106 yards before halftime and finished with eight for 117.
A second-half shutout was digestible if not sorely needed.
OR also got a special teams touchdown against Southern Utah when Tony Brooks-James returned the opening kickoff for a score. Another junior came at the top, wide receiver Stanley Morgan caught five balls for 102 yards and one score.
Nebraska's next drive began at the Huskers' 47-yard line. "Getting the ball back, we had plenty of time and then that happened", Nebraska head coach Mike Riley said.
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OR would start the game with the ball. Namely, penalties. OR had 12 for 115 yards.
Because Oregon is wearing white, Nebraska will wear its home uniforms in Eugene.
Nebraska's new 3-4 defense looked exhausted and confused at times during the first half, but rallied in the second half to make enough plays to secure the victory.
"They weren't going at warp speed, but they were going at a quick tempo and at a quick pace", Jackson said. As the Huskers mounted a startling second-half comeback, he started to wonder why he brought it up. Hawaii (2-1) saw its winning streak end at five games. But over two weeks, Herbert has turned the promising flashes he offered periodically last season into regular occurrences and led OR to a nonconference win over a Power 5 division contender.
Nebraska returns to action next week when it plays host to Northern Illinois for an 11 a.m. kickoff.
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