Sep 09, 2023

Huskers struggle at #22 Colorado 36-14

Posted Sep 09, 2023 9:41 PM

Nebraska Communications

BOULDER, Colorado - Nebraska got a third-quarter touchdown by Jeff Sims to pull within 13-7, but the Huskers were unable to get any closer as No. 22 Colorado cruised to a 36-14 victory over the Huskers at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colo., on Saturday afternoon. 

Nebraska forced a turnover on downs to open the second half, before racing 66 yards in just four plays capped by Sims’ 57-yard touchdown run to bring the Big Red within six with 9:50 remaining in the third quarter.

The rest of the second half between the historic rivals belonged to Colorado.

The Huskers managed 341 total yards, including 119 passing and 222 rushing, while the Buffaloes had 468 total yards, including 396 through the air and 72 on the ground.

Sims completed 9-of-15 passes for 106 yards and an interception, while Heinrich Haarberg completed 2-of-6 attempts for 13 yards and a score for Nebraska. Billy Kemp IV was Nebraska’s top target, hauling in five catches for 57 yards. 

Gabe Ervin Jr. led the NU ground game with a career-high 74 yards on 17 carries. Sims added 67 yards on 10 attempts with a score, while Rahmir Johnson contributed 66 yards on 11 totes.

Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders connected on 31-of-42 passes for 393 yards and two touchdowns, while Xavier Weaver led the CU receiving corps with 10 grabs for 170 yards and a score.

The Nebraska defense compiled eight sacks and 11 tackles for loss on Saturday afternoon, which are the most tackles for loss for the Huskers since recording 12 against Colorado before 2018. Before Saturday, the last time the NU defense had at least seven sacks in a game was that same contest against the Buffaloes in 2018, when the Huskers recorded seven sacks. 

The Huskers and Buffaloes played to a scoreless first quarter after Nebraska’s opening possession was halted with a fumbled snap on the 31-yard line in Colorado territory. The opening drive saw the NU offense reel off a pair of big plays with a 21-yard pass to Kemp IV and a 17-yard reception by Nate Boerkircher.

The Blackshirts stifled the CU offense early with three sacks on Colorado’s first possession in the second quarter, including a pair from Cameron Lenhardt and another by Nick Henrich. With two sacks, Lenhardt became the first true freshman to record two sacks in a game since defensive end Barry Turner had two sacks at Baylor in 2005. 

Starting on its own nine-yard line with 12:06 remaining in the first half, the Huskers drove into CU territory with 64 yards on nine plays, including runs of 26 and 13 yards by Ervin Jr. Kemp IV pulled in a leaping 18-yard grab along the NU sideline to keep the momentum for the Big Red, before the drive ended with a missed 45-yard field goal attempt by Tristan Alvano.

Colorado capitalized on back-to-back turnovers from the NU offense to jump ahead 10-0 in under two minutes. The Buffaloes opened the scoring with a 31-yard field goal by Jace Feely with 4:20 remaining after a fumbled snap by Sims on Nebraska’s own 25-yard line.

The Buffaloes needed just one play following an NU interception to grab a 10-point lead with a 30-yard pass to Tar’Varish Dawson by Sanders with 2:43 left.

Feely’s field goal from 32 yards out as time expired gave Colorado a 13-point advantage at the half.

Following a turnover on downs by the Buffaloes to begin the second half, Sims broke free for a 57-yard scamper down the right sideline to bring the Big Red within six with 9:50 remaining in the third quarter. 

Colorado responded immediately with a 12-yard scoring reception by Weaver on a drive extended six plays earlier with a 41-yard pass to Weaver on third down from its own 37-yard line. 

The Buffaloes tacked on a field goal and a pair of touchdowns to grow the lead to 29, before Thomas Fidone snagged a four-yard touchdown reception on the game’s final play to make it 36-14.

Isaac Gifford led the Husker defense with a team-high eight tackles. Luke Reimer totaled five tackles and 1.5 sacks, while Lenhardt and Henrich chipped in three tackles and a pair of sacks each.

Mikai Gbayor and Malcom Hartzog recorded six tackles each, while Riley Van Poppel, Jimari Butler and Tamon Lynum picked up their first career sacks on Saturday.

Nebraska continues play next weekend, as the Huskers return to Lincoln for the home opener against Northern Illinois. Kick-off at Memorial Stadium is set for 6 p.m. with live national television coverage on FS1.