The distance: 51 yards
The star: Bryan Carpenter
The date: Nov. 4, 1989
The outcome: Colorado 27, Huskers 21
Third-ranked Nebraska got the early jump on No. 2 Colorado in a hotly contested, nationally televised game that serene Saturday in early November.
The Huskers had intercepted Buffs quarterback Darian Hagan, ending Colorado’s first series.
We’ll let the words of CBS announcer Jim Nantz tell how fullback Bryan Carpenter went untouched 51 yards for a touchdown on Nebraska’s first play from scrimmage:
“Nebraska takes over at its 49-yard line. Carpenter the lone set back, behind Gerry Gdowski the quarterback. Looking pass, settin’ up a screen, they go to Carpenter. He gets away from Salave’a, cuts back to the middle! He’s got room! Inside the 40, inside the 30! He’s going to score! Nebraska! On the first play of the day for Nebraska! 51 yards and a touchdown!”
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The Nebraska sideline went nuts. The rest of Folsom Field, save for the Husker contingent in the north end zone, went silent.
For a while, anyway.
J.J. Flannigan took a late option pitch from Hagan as part of his 70-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter that tied the game. From there, Nebraska fought an uphill battle, never regaining the lead in a gut-wrenching 27-21 loss.
“We lost this more than they won it,” defensive tackle Kent Wells said. “We had them. But for three plays this game was ours, all ours.”
Those three plays? Two long punt returns by Jeff Campbell (47 and 55 yards) that set up two CU touchdowns, and Tyrone Legette’s interception in the end zone that was negated because of pass interference.
Legette didn’t think he interfered, and you’ll still hear Nebraska fans grumble about clips that weren’t called on Campbell’s 55-yard return.
“We didn’t have a break go our way,” Tom Osborne said. “There were big problems with the kicking game. I thought offensively and defensively, we played well enough to win. We should win.”
NU held Colorado to 227 yards of offense, but the Buffs won, and for the first time in 28 years, neither Nebraska nor Oklahoma would have a part of the Big Eight championship.
Reach Brian Rosenthal at 402-473-7436 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter @HuskerExtraBR.