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Kain Colter was just having fun.

The sophomore was everywhere. He played running back, receiver and quarterback. If coach Pat Fitzgerald had asked him to play on defense, Colter likely would have been out there making tackles, too.

Mostly, Colter was in Nebraska's face in Northwestern's 28-25 victory Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

He ran for 57 yards and caught three passes for 57 yards, then directed the Wildcat offense when starting quarterback Dan Persa injured his shoulder, throwing for 115 yards.

"It's more fun to me. You kind of go back to your younger days, go out and play wherever you can to get on the field," Colter said. "In the quarterback role, you have to know where everybody is on the field."

On the Wildcats' first drive of the second half, Colter dove for the end zone, nicking the pylon, to cap a six-play, 59-yard march.

And when Nebraska cut the deficit to 14-10, Colter launched a pass to Jeremy Ebert, who sprinted 81 yards for another score.

"Kain saw the safety roll down and I had man-to-man coverage. Kain threw a great ball and I was lucky to be able to outrun him," said Ebert, who went over 2,000 yards receiving for his career and had a career-high 147 yards on six catches Saturday.

After Nebraska once again narrowed the gap, Colter directed the Wildcats on a time-consuming drive. He picked up 4 yards on a crucial fourth-and-1, then capped the drive with a 1-yard run up the middle.

The fourth-down play was pivotal, according to Fitzgerald.

"I felt that was the time to go for the win. I wanted to have Bo (Pelini) take his timeout. If we don't get it, they're down one (timeout)," Fitzgerald said. "The offensive staff talked through about three different concepts. To go out there with the first play and see what they were going to do and then change. That was a great adjustment by (offensive coordinator) Mick McCall. And a great job by our offensive guys, especially Kain going out there and being patient."

Colter's steady play drew praise from Fitzgerald.

"The sky is the limit for him and for his future," he said. "More importantly, he just stayed within the framework of our offense, to take advantage of the clock and do the things that winning quarterbacks do. To highlight him would minimize the play of our offensive line and our receivers and super backs and running backs.

"We've been playing with two quarterbacks all season, so there's a lot of confidence in Kain's ability to play quarterback. But also when the ball is in his hands, usually good things happen."

Both Fitzgerald and Colter credited the Northwestern defense, which limited the Huskers to 122 yards rushing.

"We fit right and we tackled better than we have all year. We went back and showed the guys eight plays (from the Indiana game) that if we just did what we were supposed to do when we were supposed to do it, those big gains wouldn't have happened," Fitzgerald said.

Colter admitted to giving the defense a hard time before the game.

"We joke around. We told them, 'Keep them under 53 (points) and we'll have a chance,'" Colter said. "They get a little upset and take it personally. They showed how good they can be."

Reach Ryly Jane Hambleton at 402-473-7314 or rhambleton@journalstar.com.