The distance: 20 yards
The star: Joel Makovicka
The date: Aug. 30, 1997
The outcome: Huskers 59, Akron 14
A touchdown from a yawner of game against Akron makes the Journal Star’s 100-yard Husker touchdown club.
If you don’t remember fullback Joel Makovicka’s 20-yard touchdown run in the 1997 season opener, take a look at the replay, and you’ll understand.
Makovicka showed his strength and balance in breaking a series of tackles and dragging Akron linebacker George Cameron with him the final 5 yards into the end zone.
“If you can’t make a guy miss, you’ve got to be physical and run over people,” Makovicka said. “I’m not going to count a play over until I’m on the ground.”
Makovicka said he didn’t feel any of the seven or eight Akron players who had a hand on him — until the final guy was on his back.
“I just wanted to stay low,” he said.
The first-quarter touchdown set the tone for a 59-14 victory on a hot, humid day that left the Zips feeling sick. (Literally. One player vomited on the field). The season opener was the final of coach Tom Osborne’s career and the first victory of an undefeated, national championship season.
While certainly not the most meaningful, Makovicka’s touchdown run is one of the most impressive by a fullback — a position Husker fans hold dear to their hearts — in Nebraska football lore.
“The fullback exemplifies what Nebraska football is all about,” Akron coach Lee Owens said after the game. “He just flat wasn’t going to go down. We hit him and hit him and hit him.”
Makovicka finished the game with a career-high 59 yards on seven carries.
Akron players, meanwhile, must have learned to not bother getting in Makovicka’s way. He raced untouched into the end zone on his next touchdown.