Tre Bryant rushed for 192 yards and a touchdown as Nebraska fended off pesky Arkansas State to win a 43-36 nailbiter on Saturday night in Lincoln, Neb.
Nebraska (1-0) shook off an inconsistent first half that saw four lead changes to outlast Arkansas State (0-1). Tanner Lee threw for 238 yards and two touchdowns to pace the Cornhuskers, connecting with Stanley Morgan Jr. for 102 yards.
Nebraska went up for good early in the fourth quarter when Lee found De’Mornay Pierson-El for a 15-yard touchdown strike to put the Cornhuskers up 40-26.
Arkansas State drew to 43-36 with 47 seconds remaining on a Kendrick Edwards 3-yard touchdown catch. The Red Wolves recovered the onside kick but failed to score.
Arkansas State’s Chris Murray had a touchdown called back upon review with nine minutes left. The score would have cut the Red Wolves’ deficit. Instead, they settled for a 31-yard Sawyer Williams field goal.
The Nebraska defense was stingy against the run, holding Red Wolves ball carriers to 82 yards. The Cornhuskers weren’t as efficient in the air, yielding 415 passing yards to quarterback Justice Hansen.
Blaise Taylor recovered a muffed punt for a 63-yard touchdown to get Arkansas State on the board. Nebraska responded immediately as redshirt freshman J.D. Spielman took the ensuing kickoff for a 99-yard touchdown.
Spielman added 22 yards via the air and an additional two receiving touchdowns.
Junior Mikale Wilbon scored the first touchdown of his career for Nebraska on a 7-yard run.
Arkansas State linebacker Kyle Wilson stopped Bryant in the end zone for a Red Wolves safety in the second quarter. The Red Wolves returned the favor with six minutes to play when left tackle Jaypee Philbert drew a holding call on defensive end Carlos Davis in the end zone.
Kendrick Edwards scored on a 3-yard catch for Arkansas State with 47 seconds to play, but it was too little too late. The loss was the first for the Red Wolves in their last 16 games when scoring 30 or more points.
Gerald and Jill Foltz, parents of Sam Foltz, attended the game in which the school unveiled a memorial dedicated to the late Nebraska punter.