The last time Noah Vedral played a game — one that counted, anyway — on the Memorial Stadium turf, he was slinging passes in a Class C-1 state championship game.
On Saturday, he began adding moments in Husker red.
The Bishop Neumann graduate made a nice read on a zone-read play, tucked the ball and raced 20 yards to the corner of the end zone for a touchdown in Nebraska's 45-9 rout of Bethune-Cookman on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
"It was amazing," Vedral said of the moment. "It was … something I dreamed about since I was little. For that to finally come true is something that I've always dreamed of; it was still a little surreal."
With Nebraska holding a comfortable 35-3 lead at the break, Scott Frost and his staff turned loose the 2s and 3s during the second half. That included giving Vedral every second-half snap. The sophomore was playing in his first game since transferring to Nebraska from Central Florida.
Vedral finished 2-of-9 passing for 29 yards and an interception. He rushed for 13 yards on seven carries and lost a fumble that was recovered by teammate John Raridon.
"I needed that a little bit," Vedral said of getting some game reps. "A little bit of rust, a couple plays I'd like to have back, but as a whole I was proud of the 2s and we did a pretty good job."
Coaches said recently that Andrew Bunch is No. 2 in the pecking order at quarterback behind Adrian Martinez. But Frost said Saturday he saw an opportunity, especially with the new redshirt rule, to help Vedral shake off some rust.
"Simply, he hadn't played yet this year," Frost said. "Bunchy has gotten a shot this year. I think both guys are capable, both guys are great guys. Noah's been practicing really well and I know how good of a player he can be, and he already is. We thought it was time to give him a shot."
Vedral's game action comes two weeks after the NCAA approved his waiver to play immediately. Prior to that, Vedral was running the scout team. The last three weeks have been a whirlwind, Vedral said.
"When I found out, it was a little bit crazy, a little hectic," the 6-foot, 200-pounder said. "But then after that it just kind of goes back to riding a bike, getting back into the offensive side of the ball, start familiarizing yourself with looking at the defense in an analytical way, not so much as trying to give them a look as you would be on scout team."
Backups get plenty of snaps: Frost rested the offensive starters following halftime, and the defensive starters saw a lighter workload in the second half against Bethune-Cookman.
That allowed several new faces to get into the game. Freshman wideout/running back Miles Jones made his Husker debut and finished with 26 yards on two touches (one catch, one rush). Freshman tight end Katerian Legrone, who made the trip to Northwestern, also saw his first snaps and finished with a catch.
Freshman cornerback Braxton Clark got several reps, as did sophomore defensive backs Ethan Cox and Eli Sullivan and sophomore linebacker Guy Thomas.
Junior running back Wyatt Mazour and senior Mikale Wilbon split backfield duty in the second half.
Others getting in were defensive linemen Vaha Vainuku, Chris Walker, Damian Jackson and Matt Jarzynka; linebackers Simon Otte, Jordan Paup, wide receivers Jaevon McQuitty and Andre Hunt; offensive linemen Raridon, Trent Hixson, Hunter Miller, Matt Sichterman and Fyn Anderson.
Morgan, Spielman set tone: As they have all season, wideouts Stanley Morgan and JD Spielman helped lead the passing game Saturday, combining for 12 catches for 154 yards. Morgan had two first-quarter touchdowns.
Morgan, who was targeted often against Minnesota, had 10 balls thrown in his way against the Wildcats. He caught seven for 82 yards.
Quite simply, Bethune-Cookman had no answer for the Husker wideout duo, which helped put the game away early.
"We needed that to happen," Frost said. "We needed a (bye), we didn't get one. Physically, it was important for us to put the game away so that the guys could play 30, 35, 40 snaps and be done. I think that's going to help us down the stretch with the last four (games)."
Spielman to the house: Among the tone-setting plays was Spielman's 77-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter. Spielman made his way toward the opposing sideline before cutting back to his left, finding daylight and the end zone.
The key to the return: "We blocked everybody on that play," Frost said.
Jack Stoll, who is on the punt return unit, saw it the same way, adding the players made the blocks.
"We've been learning technique as far as not getting any penalties and I think everyone's been working hard and we've been doing a good job doing all the drills that Coach (Jovan) Dewitt has us doing."
Spielman's touchdown was the Huskers' first via punt return since De'Mornay Pierson-El's return at Iowa in 2014, and it comes after NU had a treacherous start to the season in the game's third phase.
"You score on defense or special teams, you're probably going to win most games," Frost said. "We haven't had one yet, so it was good to see us break the ice."
Newell gets a pick: Peyton Newell saw the ball in the air and just had to wait for it to come down.
“It was the longest second of my life,” he said after the game.
But there it was, a pass deflected off of a teammate’s helmet — “Thanks to Ben Stille’s head for being right there,” Newell joked — and into the senior defensive tackle’s arms for his first career interception.
It was the first pick by a Husker defensive lineman since 2013.
“From Day 1, my dad always told me, ‘You can always control running to the ball,’” Newell said. “So I just ran to the ball like I always try to do.”
It probably saved points, too, as Bethune-Cookman drove to the NU 23 before the interception.
Domann active: JoJo Domann had a bigger role in the game plan this week and took advantage. Playing extensively as a nickel — he lined up like a safety and like an outside linebacker depending on how the offense deployed — Domann recorded a tackle, forced a fumble and tipped a pass.
"JoJo is a guy that every time we've been ready to give him an extended role he's had a little health issue this year," Frost said. "(I've) kind of felt bad for him, but he's good enough to play for us."
Armstrong bombs away: Walk-on punter Isaac Armstrong continued his field-flipping ways Saturday, averaging 57.3 yards on three punts.
Armstrong boomed back-to-back punts of 73 and 64 yards in the third quarter, with neither kick returned. The 73-yarder might have been longer, too. Jeremiah Stovall scooped up the ball while it was still rolling after he thought it touched a Bethune-Cookman player in the area.
For the season, Armstrong is now averaging 48.7 yards on 13 punts, with five kicks stopping inside the 20. Just three of his 13 punts have been returned.