Talk about making the most out of your senior year.
Husker tight end Sean Hill had played in just three games coming into this season.
On Saturday, he was a big reason why the Huskers pulled off a 41-40 win against Ball State.
He had three catches, including a 73-yard touchdown in the third quarter and a crucial 32-yard catch on NU’s game-winning drive.
Hill also had a big TD catch just before halftime in the 20-17 win at Wake Forest in Week 2.
“I love that Sam kept throwing me the ball,” Hill said. “I hope he keeps throwing us (tight ends) the ball. We’ll keep making plays.”
Hill’s touchdown came on a crossing route. Ball State cornerback B.J. Hill bit on the play thinking run. The Husker tight end caught the ball at about midfield and went untouched down the sideline for a score that made it 21-17.
Hill said the Huskers knew they’d win after linebacker Bo Ruud’s fourth-quarter interception return cut the deficit to 37-35.
“It brought life back in the defense and gave hope back to the offense that we’re going to win this thing, there’s no doubt,” Hill said.
Husker freshman running back Roy Helu saw quality action, even recording two carries in the first quarter.
Helu said running backs coach Randy Jordan told him Monday he’d play more this week, given teammate Cody Glenn’s battles with injury.
Helu finished with four carries for 13 yards and one catch for 5 yards.
“It was a nice opportunity to show what I can contribute to the team,” Helu said. “We needed someone to come in, and in practice I did all right for myself.”
Husker sophomore safety Rickey Thenarse saw the most playing time he’s seen this season.
He said after the game some Huskers may have been worn down after a physical week of practice that had players in full pads for the first time since fall camp.
“Yeah, we (were) a little bit more worn down, just certain people, (people) banged up from the SC game, and coming in and going all pads all week,” Thenarse said.
Cornerback Zackary Bowman did not play because of a hamstring injury. Glenn sat out because of a knee injury.
Linebacker Lance Brandenburgh hobbled off the field with four minutes left in the first quarter and did not return. Defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove said, “I have no idea what’s happening right now” when asked about the injury.
Sophomore Jacob Hickman got the start at left guard in place of Andy Christensen, who injured his knee last week and will be out the rest of the season. It was the second start of Hickman’s career.
Husker junior Marlon Lucky likes the title “all-purpose back.” He was that Saturday, catching 11 passes, a record for a Husker running back. The 11 receptions were the second-most in school history. The record is 14, by Dennis Richnafsky against Kansas State in 1967.
“It’s really valuable to have a back like that who finds your eyes,” Husker quarterback Sam Keller said.
True freshman Prince Amukamara gave up his redshirt, appearing for the first time this year on the special-teams unit. … Ball State’s 610 yards of total offense were the fourth-most given up by Nebraska and the most by a Husker opponent since Washington put up 618 in 1991. … Maurice Purify’s 122 yards receiving were a career high. His previous best was 91 yards. … The nine-point deficit Nebraska overcame was the fourth-largest fourth-quarter comeback in school history.