JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Quincy Enunwa took a bow after his 99-yard touchdown reception.
He might as well have been taking a bow for a season that will end up in the Husker record books.
While winning Gator Bowl MVP honors in Nebraska’s 24-19 victory against No. 23 Georgia, Enunwa had two touchdowns, giving him 12 TD receptions this season.
That breaks Johnny Rodgers’ record of 11 touchdown receptions set in 1971.
“It’s huge, man,” Enunwa said of the record. “It’s a testament to the work I put in in the offseason, and also the trust that coaches had in me to give me the ball and know that I’d make a play. That’s why I love these coaches.”
Enunwa’s 99-yard touchdown in the third quarter will now forever be in the record books as the longest touchdown pass in Husker history. The previous record was a 95-yard pass from Fred Duda to Freeman White against Colorado in 1965.
Enunwa’s 129 receiving yards Wednesday were also a career high and the second-most in Nebraska bowl history, trailing only the 138 gained by Johnny Mitchell in the 1991 Citrus Bowl.
No one was happier for Enunwa than Kenny Bell, who sprinted to greet the senior in the end zone after his long TD.
“It feels good to see your teammates succeed,” Bell said. “But when your teammate is your roommate, a fellow receiver, and a guy you’ve been friends with ever since the day you got here, it’s a great feeling.”
Husker coach Bo Pelini says football fans haven’t seen the last of Enunwa. While his Nebraska career may be over, Pelini expects Enunwa to play at the next level.
“Quincy is going to have a great career on Sundays,” Pelini said. “There’s no question. The momentum’s going for it.”
Senior offensive tackle Jeremiah Sirles turned around just in time to see quarterback Tommy Armstrong avoid a near safety.
But now the ball was on the Husker 1-foot line. What now?
“When I heard the call, I was like, ‘OK, we’re going for the kill shot, you know?’” Sirles said. “I saw Quincy catch it, but then he went out of view. Then I heard the crowd roar and I saw him running down the sideline. That was pretty sweet.”
It may not have ever happened without an officials’ review.
The Huskers originally set up to run a quarterback sneak on the third-and-14 play, just trying to get some breathing room for a punt. But before they could get that play snapped, refs called for a review to see whether Armstrong had actually made it out of the end zone on the previous play.
With the extra time, Nebraska revisited its options.
“Coach (Tim) Beck had the gutsy call then to come out and call that play,” Sirles said.
The Huskers and Bulldogs mixed it up, with officials briefly delaying things after a skirmish at midfield.
Sophomore defensive end Randy Gregory said there was a lot more trash-talking than against Big Ten teams.
It helped fuel him even as he played while hurt.
“My left leg’s been banged up for a while and I hurt it a couple times today,” Gregory said. "But I had to fight through it. I wanted to play hard for the seniors, and once things started escalating toward the end of the first half, I think it kind of made me mad. I just said, ‘Forget about it. I’m going out there and going to play.’”
Gregory didn’t go into details about what was being said between the two sides. But there didn’t seem to be any hard feelings at game’s end, as both teams shook hands.
“I like that kind of game, being able to trash talk and stuff like that,” Gregory said. “I think it kind of gets us going.”
Ameer’s magic year
Junior running back Ameer Abdullah had a line of Georgia players looking to slap hands with him out of respect for his efforts Wednesday.
With 122 yards on 27 carries, Abdullah finished the season with 1,690 rushing yards. That’s the fourth-most in a season in school history.
It also marked his 11th 100-yard rushing game this year, tying Mike Rozier (1983), Lawrence Phillips (1994) and Ahman Green (1997) in the school record books.
“Obviously, Ameer was the best player on our team,” Bell said. “Him and Randy (Gregory) were unbelievable this year.”
Nebraska came into the game ranked 119th in turnover margin, but Wednesday, the scale tipped the Huskers’ way.
NU not only won the turnover battle 2-1, but converted both Georgia turnovers into touchdowns.
Clearly getting takeaways had been stressed a lot. After an interception by Josh Mitchell in the third quarter, the entire team circled him on the sideline, jumping up and down.
That type of togetherness should be expected, according to the junior cornerback.
“We always break it down in huddles (by saying), ‘Family,’” Mitchell said. “And that’s one thing this team is, we’re a big family. We spend so much time together. How can you not be a family?”
This and that
Nebraska is now 25-25 all-time in bowl games. Pelini improved to 4-3 in bowl games as the Husker head coach. … NU improved to 13-7 against SEC teams in bowl games, including 2-1 against Georgia. … Gregory recorded one sack and has 10½ this season, moving him into the top 10 on the Nebraska single-season list. … NU had four sacks to bring its season total to 39, its best total since recording 44 in 2009. … The Huskers held Georgia to just 12 points on the Bulldogs' six trips into the red zone, forcing four field goals and stopping them twice on fourth down.