Nebraska defeats S. Alabama 35-21 in 2019 Huskers opener

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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) -- Nebraska's season opener was much closer than expected. The Huskers got a strong performance from their special teams and defense in the second half to win the game over South Alabama.

Nebraska fans packed Memorial Stadium for the 2019 season opener against South Alabama on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. (Bri Mellon / WOWT)

Nebraska scored on their opening drive of the game. The Huskers marched 81 yards on 9 plays. The big play was a 42-yard pass from Adrian Martinez to tight end Jack Stoll. Then junior college transfer running back Derick Mills scored on a one-yard run to give Nebraska a 7-0 lead with 12:19 left in the 1st quarter.

But South Alabama answered in the first quarter. After a short punt by Nebraska, the Jaguars drove 41 yards in 9 plays. Quarterback Cephus Johnson scored on a 3-yard run to tie the game up at 7-all with 5:32 left in the 1st quarter.

Nebraska took the lead early in the 2nd quarter, when the Huskers drove 42 yards in 12 plays. After a pass interference call in the end zone, Nebraska got the ball at the one-yard line. Mills scored his second touchdown of the game from one yard out. Nebraska took the lead 14-7 with 9:15 left in the 2nd quarter.

Nebraska drove downfield in the final minutes of the first half, but could not get on the scoreboard. Freshman Dylan Jorgensen missed a field goal. Nebraska led 14-7 at halftime.

Nebraska broke out to a big lead in the third quarter with special teams and defense. Nebraska safety Eric Lee Jr. picked off a pass along the sidelines and raced 38 yards for a touchdown. The Huskers led 21-7.

A few minutes later, South Alabama punted away to Nebraska. J.D. Spielman took the punt on his own 34 yard line and found an opening down the sidelines and went 76 yards for a touchdown. The Huskers opened up a 28-7 lead.

But South Alabama did not give up. Cephus Johnson threw a pair of touchdown passes to pull within seven points. Nebraska still led 28-21 at the end of the 3rd quarter.

Then the Nebraska defense came up with another touchdown. Cam Taylor hit the quarterback and forced a fumble in the end zone. Alex Davis recovered the ball for a touchdown. Nebraska led 35-21 with 14 minutes left in the game.

The Huskers play at Colorado next Saturday.

See our updates and liveblog below to watch how the game unfolded from Memorial Stadium.

Game updates


The Huskers left the field at 10:39 a.m. to head to the locker room while the Cornhusker marching band prepares to take the field.

Kickoff is at 11 a.m., but there's lots happening before that.

Freshman Dylan Jorgensen is expected to handle kicking duties today. The Lincoln Southwest grad took the kicks in pregame.

The rain has stayed away for the most part. The temperature at 10:25 is 64 degrees. We should have cloudy skies and temperatures in the high 60s to mid-70s for the game. The wind is at 8mph. Not bad for August in Lincoln.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is at today's game; his wife is from Omaha.

ON THE FIELD: Redshirt freshman Cameron Jurgens is expected to start at center today. Jurgens would be the first freshman to start at center for Nebraska since the NCAA reinstated freshman eligibility in 1972.


Nebraska will get the ball to start the game. The sun is coming out!

Freshman Wan'Dale Robinson opens the game with a carry to start the season.

JC transfer Dedrick Mills scores the first touchdown of the season from one yard out with 12:19 left in the first quarter. Nebraska leads 7-0. 9 plays in a 82 yard drive.

Nebraska defense stops South Alabama on first drive--good start to the season. The Huskers will get the ball back at the 11 yard line.

Boyd Epley being honored during first tv timeout. Great career at Nebraska. He started Husker Power!

The Huskers go three and out on the second drive. Time to punt.

Only a 32 yard punt by the Huskers. South Alabama takes over at the 41 yard line of Nebraska.

South Alabama gets first down at 26 of Nebraska.

Will Honas gets first sack of his career at Nebraska.
But a penalty(late hit) Personal Foul. Third and long. Big mistake.

South Alabama's Cephus Johnson scores on a touchdown run. The game is tied at 7-all with 5:52 left in first quarter. The Jaguars scored on an 9-play 41-yard drive.

BIG Play! Lamar Jackson forces fumble and Nebraska recovers at their own 32 yard line.

OOPS! High snap over Martinez! Big loss of 20 yards.

54-yard punt by Isaac Armstrong. The ball down at the 9-yard line of South Alabama.

So a bad snap and a short punt have hurt the Huskers in the first quarter.

END OF FIRST QUARTER: Nebraska 7, South Alabama 7


Nebraska Athletic Hall of Fame is honored on the field. Carol Frost, the mother of Scott Frost is being inducted in the Hall, after throwing the javelin in the 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City.

Nebraska's Cam Taylor comes up with a big tackle for a loss of 4 yards.
Nebraska gets the ball back on the 42-yard line of South Alabama.

The Huskers have driven the ball down to the 4-yard line. Wyatt Mazour came up with some key runs on the drive. Timeout on the field.

After a pass interference call in the end zone, the Huskers get first and goal from the one-yard line. Dedrick Mills scores a touchdown from one yard out. Nebraska leads 14-7 with 9:15 left in the 2nd quarter.

Nebraska called for pass interference. South Alabama gets first down at 49 yard line.

The Huskers hold and get the ball back at their own 21 yard line.

Martinez sacked for a loss down at the 19 yard line. Time to punt.

Nebraska gets the ball back at their own 30 yard line with two minutes left. Let's see how the hurry up offense goes this time. Wan'Dale Robinson with a couple of big plays takes the ball down to the 32 yard line of South Alabama with 1:14 left in the half.

Timeout with 51 seconds left; it's third down and two at the 24 yard line.

Martinez misses wide open Robinson in end zone.

Jorgensen misses the field goal with 19 seconds left.

HALFTIME: Nebraska 14, South Alabama 7


Nebraska's Eric Lee intercepts a pass and returns it 38 yards for a touchdown. The Huskers open up a 21-7 lead with 14 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter.

Nebraska's J.D. Spielman returns a punt 76 yards for a touchdown. The Huskers start to break the game open with a 28-7 lead with 11:32 left in the 3rd quarter.

South Alabama drives downfield to get back in the game. The Jaguars pull to within 28-14 with 6:47 left int eh 3rd quarter.

The Nebraska offense takes the field for the first time in the second half. Maurice Washington is in the game at running back. Will Farniok has replaced Jurgens at center in the second half.

The Husker drive ends, when Martinez's pass is picked off by South Alabama. Bad decision by the Husker quarterback, with too many white jerseys in the middle of the field.

New ballgame! South Alabama scores on a touchdown pass to Khameron Taylor. Nebraska still leads 28-21 with 2:17 left in the 3rd quarter. The Jaguars marched 58 yards in 6 plays.
END OF 3RD QUARTER: Nebraska 28, South Alabama 21


Defense scores again! Nebraska's Cam Taylor hits the quarterback and forces a fumble in the end zone. Alex Davis recovers the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. Nebraska leads 35-21 with 14:49 left in the 3rd quarter.

South Alabama was marching downfield, but the threat was ended, when Nebraska's Cam Taylor comes up with another big play. He makes an interception and returns it back to the 50 yard line. Big play with 7 Minutes left in the game.

FINAL: Nebraska 35, South Alabama 21