Eric Lee Jr. returned an interception for a touchdown early in the third quarter and JD Spielman did the same with a punt just 1:39 later as No. 24 Nebraska posted a 35-21 win over South Alabama on Saturday in Lincoln, Neb.
Linebacker Alex Davis recovered a fumble in the end zone to begin the fourth quarter for the Cornhuskers, who scored three non-offensive touchdowns in a game for the first time since 2005 against Wake Forest.
Nebraska’s five takeaways helped a sputtering offense, which mustered 276 total yards. Adrian Martinez completed just 13 of 22 passes for 178 yards with one interception.
Cephus Johnson finished 19 of 34 for 231 yards for the Jaguars, who fell to 1-12 against Power 5 conference opponents.
Dedrick Mills’ pair of 1-yard touchdown runs gave the Cornhuskers a 14-7 lead before Lee added on with the first of his two interceptions. Lee stepped in front of a pass by Johnson and scampered 38 yards for a touchdown just 1:49 into the third quarter.
South Alabama (0-1) went three-and-out on its next possession before Spielman returned Jack Brooks’ punt 76 yards for a touchdown to give Nebraska (1-0) a 28-7 lead.
Spielman, however, fumbled his next opportunity for a punt return to turn the tide, with Johnson throwing touchdown passes on back-to-back possessions to cut Nebraska’s lead to 28-21. Johnson connected on a 9-yard scoring strike to Davyn Flenord with 6:47 remaining in the third before finding Khameron Taylor for a 13-yard score just 4 1/2 minutes later.
The Cornhuskers regained the momentum after cornerback Cam Taylor sacked Johnson from his blind side. Davis alertly fell on the loose ball in the end zone.
Nebraska opened the scoring just 2:41 into the first quarter after Mills muscled his way into the end zone from 1 yard out to cap a nine-play, 81-yard drive.
South Alabama answered seven minutes later as Johnson eluded blitzing Cornhuskers safety Deontai Williams in the backfield before scampering for a 3-yard touchdown run to forge a tie at 7.
Mills regained the advantage for Nebraska early on the second quarter, as he followed up a fourth-down conversion with another 1-yard touchdown run.
—Field Level Media