Missouri’s defensive breakdown proves costly

Nebraska was shut out the first three quarters but scored 27 points in the fourth.

The Nebraska defense attempts to block a Missouri extra point during their game Thursday night at Faurot Field. Missouri took the lead early, but lost the game after a series of three quick Nebraska touchdowns.

The Missouri defense was sitting high and dry through three quarters of last night’s waterlogged affair with Nebraska.

Then the Tigers got caught in the rain.

In quick fashion, Nebraska racked up 27 unanswered points in the fourth quarter en route to stunning the Faurot Field-faithful and picking up a 27-12 win.

“Going through three quarters against a really good offensive football team, they were playing absolutely outstanding,” Pinkel said. “You have to be able to handle that sudden change and that adversity a little bit better, and I think we are capable of handling it better.”

The Cornhusker outburst was in sharp juxtaposition to their their quiet offense in the first three quarters.

Amid a constant rain, Nebraska struggled with fumbles. They lost the ball five times with Missouri recovering twice.

Nebraska was shut out and managed only 109 total yards of offense. As a result of the sputtering offense, the Cornhuskers punted eight times.

Nebraska junior quarterback Zac Lee was 9 for 27 passing for 79 yards and no Cornhusker receiver had more than 33 receiving yards.

Down 12-0 heading into the final quarter, the Cornhuskers began their comeback fast. Just more than one minute into the quarter, Lee connected with junior wide receiver Niles Paul on a 56-yard touchdown pass.

After sophomore quarterback Blaine Gabbert was intercepted on the first play of the ensuing Missouri drive, the Cornhuskers needed two plays to get back into the end zone.

Lee found Paul again, this time for a 13-yard touchdown and a 13-12 Nebraska lead.

After Gabbert was intercepted again, Nebraska notched another seven points and pulled away for the 20-12 lead.

After being shut out for the first 45 minutes of play, Nebraska pulled ahead for good in just over three minutes.

“We’re Division I football players,” senior nose tackle Jaron Baston said. “It’s our job when adversity hits to do something about it. If not the first time, the second time. If not the second time, the third time. Four times we didn’t react to it well.”

With less than a minute left, Cornhusker junior running back Roy Helu Jr. scored on a five-yard run and completed Nebraska’s offensive outburst.

“You think you put together a nice game,” senior linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said. “You go out there and are executing well on defense. All of a sudden you have a few breakdowns and give the other guys a little momentum and you see what can happen when you do that. You gotta finish the game.”

Overall, Lee completed five of six passes in the fourth quarter and doubled his previous yardage total by throwing for 79 yards.

Paul went from 33 yards receiving to 102 yards on the strength of his two touchdowns.

Baston talked about the need to finish off games in a stronger fashion.

“We preach it all the time on our team,” Baston said. “You can’t win a game in the first, second or third quarter. You can only win in the fourth.”

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