Nebraska, Abdullah run over Rutgers

EditorsNote: FIX: In 3rd graf, Adbullah’s third TD run was 23 yards,

Nebraska, Abdullah run over Rutgers

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Even when he is statistically at the top of his game, Ameer Abdullah is still looking for more.

Abdullah ran 19 times for 225 yards and three touchdowns, and No. 16 Nebraska defeated Rutgers, 42-24, on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Abdullah, a senior running back, had touchdown runs of 53, 48 and 23 yards en route to his fourth 200-yard rushing game this season, tying the school record set by Heisman Trophy-winning running back Mike Rozier in 1983.

“I didn’t even know I had as many yards as I did at the end of the game,” Abdullah said. “I knew I had a couple of long runs early in the game, but I felt like I missed a couple of things that I’m still kicking myself now because I missed them.

“It could’ve been an even bigger game. That’s why you watch film, that’s why you play the game.”

Nebraska (7-1, 3-1 in the Big Ten Conference) built a 35-10 lead with two touchdowns in the third quarter, one set up when Abdullah returned a kickoff 76 yards to the Rutgers 24-yard line.

Abdullah, who also had 26 receiving yards, finished with a school-record 341 all-purpose yards, bettering the previous mark of 321 set by Roy Helu against Missouri in 2010.

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini was pleased with Abdullah’s performance but unhappy with his team’s play overall, pointing to five penalties and two turnovers, one coming on one of two bad shotgun snaps.

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“I thought we were sloppy, inconsistent, and we didn’t play up to the standard that we need to play up to,” Pelini said. “I’ll take the win. Any time you win a football game, it’s never easy, but I have higher standards than what I watched out there today.”

Rutgers (5-3, 1-3) played the second half without senior quarterback Gary Nova, who injured a knee in the final minute of the first half.

Nova, throwing an incompletion while under pressure by Nebraska tackle Maliek Collins, came down awkwardly on the knee when Collins dragged him down.

Nova completed 8 of 19 passes for 156 yards, with an interception and a touchdown.

Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said he didn’t know the extent of Nova’s injury, and that he wouldn’t read much into the fact Nova was trying to come back into the game in the second half.

“What I have found with a lot of injuries is what a player feels like with the injury on game day is not what the player will feel like the next day,” Flood said. “I think we are going to need a couple days.”

Backup quarterback Chris Laviano led three scoring drives, including a third-quarter touchdown after Rutgers recovered a bad snap at the Nebraska 21-yard line.

Laviano finished 4-of-7 passing for 49 yards and ran five times for 54 yards.

“I thought Chris did a good job,” Flood said. “I thought he did a good job for what he had and what we gave him for play calls. I thought he made good decisions, decisive decisions.

“I don’t expect him to be perfect; usually hesitation is what gets you in trouble.”

After his long kickoff return, Abdullah had a four-yard gain out of the wildcat formation in that short drive, capped by quarterback Tommy Armstrong’s four-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Westerkamp.

Abdullah’s day appeared done when he didn’t play on Nebraska’s next two series.

But Abdullah returned on the fifth play of a short fourth-quarter drive, one he capped with a 28-yard touchdown run for a 42-17 lead.

“I said this week, I thought he was one of the better backs we have seen in my time at Rutgers,” Flood said. “That is 10 years and a lot of good football players. He certainly did not un-impress in person.”

Abdullah had touchdown runs of 53 and 48 yards on consecutive drives in the first half, helping Nebraska take a 21-7 lead.

The Huskers drove 69 yards in nine plays on their first possession to take a 7-0 lead. Armstrong, who completed a 20-yard pass over the middle to Westerkamp on Nebraska’s first play, capped the drive with a 16-yard run, his longest career touchdown run.

Rutgers tied the game when Nova, under pressure on third-and-6, evaded the rush and, on a broken play, connected with wide receiver Leonte Carroo, who got behind Nebraska linebacker David Santos.

Carroo caught the short pass beyond the first-down marker, then sped away untouched 71 yards for a touchdown with 1:27 to play in the first quarter.

NOTES: QB Gary Nova’s third completion of the game, in the first quarter, gave him 615 for his career, moving him to third place on Rutgers’ all-time list. ... RB Ameer Abdullah’s 53-yard touchdown run in the second quarter was his fourth play from scrimmage this season of 50-plus yards, including runs of 57, 50 and 53 yards, and his game-winning, 58-yard touchdown reception against McNeese State. ... Nebraska and Rutgers last played in 1920, the only previous meetings between the schools. The 94-yard series gap was the longest for Nebraska against any opponent.