Originally created 11/28/98

Nebraska tops Colorado



LINCOLN, Neb. -- Mike Rucker got his first sack of the year, Kris Brown got an NCAA kicking record and Nebraska coach Frank Solich got nine victories in his first season.

Rucker forced two second-half fumbles, including one that led to Brown's third field goal, as No. 14 Nebraska beat Colorado 16-14 Friday.

The victory prevented the Cornhuskers (9-3, 5-3 Big 12) from having four losses for the first time since 1968 and gave Nebraska at least nine wins for the 30th straight year.

"They (Huskers) wanted that very badly, especially when they found out they'd have to go back almost to my era to find a team that didn't get nine wins," said Solich, who played fullback for Nebraska from 1963-65.

The victory also was extraordinary for another reason. It was the first time in the modern era that the Huskers won without scoring an offensive touchdown. Records are incomplete before 1961.

A 25-yard field goal by Brown with 8:48 to play was the difference, capping a 10-play, 49-yard drive that started for the Cornhuskers when Rucker sacked Colorado quarterback Mike Moschetti.

With the Buffaloes (7-4, 4-4) facing third-and-22 at their own 35, Moschetti went back to throw. Rucker got a hand on Moschetti's throwing arm as the pocket collapsed, knocking the ball loose.

"It felt real great, being my last game," said Rucker, a senior. "Being here, you always want to go out with a big win."

Jeremey Slechta recovered for the Huskers at the Nebraska 43.

"You cannot give up sacks. You cannot get hit from the backside and give up those kinds of plays," said Colorado coach Rick Neuheisel.

Brown set an NCAA record with his 217th career extra point after Nebraska's only touchdown, a 42-yard interception return by Clint Finley in the first quarter.

Brown broke the NCAA record set by Derek Mahoney of Fresno State from 1990-93. On the same kick, Brown also tied Mahoney's record for attempted PATs, at 222.

When the season began, Brown seemed a lock for those records but they didn't come easy. Earlier this fall, he saw the end of two streaks: 17 straight field goals without a miss and 125 straight successful PATs.

"Over the course of my four years, the team has got the ball in the end zone a lot of times," Brown said. "It's an honor for me because I feel I represent the guys who put the ball in the end zone."

The Buffaloes got a last chance, starting at their own 9 after Bill LaFleur's 58-yard punt pinned them back deep.

The drive didn't last long. Moschetti was sacked by Chad Kelsay for an 8-yard loss on second-and-7 at the 34, then threw two incompletions.

The first, apparently caught by Darrin Chiaverini near the first-down marker, was ruled incomplete after Jay Foreman knocked the ball loose and it bounced out of bounds.

The second incompletion, on fourth-and-15 from the 26, hit Javon Green in the hands but he couldn't hold on.

Moschetti, who went 12-of-18 for 132 yards with two TDs and one interception, took a beating. Afterward, his arms were red from scrapes with the artificial turf and his face was expressionless.

"When you play Nebraska, you know you're going to get hit hard," Moschetti said. "They're a great team with great athletes."

Rucker and Kelsay, defensive ends playing their final game at Memorial Stadium, pressured Moschetti all day. Rucker had 1« sacks and seven tackles while Kelsay had one sack, six tackles and recovered a fumble.

Moschetti finished the regular season with 16 fumbles, half of them recovered by opponents.

Colorado's only lead came at 14-13 with 2:11 left in the third period. Moschetti rolled right and threw to tight end Andy Peeke, who went untouched 15 yards into the end zone.

That possession began after Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch threw into the end zone for Sheldon Jackson but was intercepted by Ben Kelly. It was Kelly's fourth interception of the year and third in the end zone.

Rucker had set up that scoring opportunity when he sacked Moschetti, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Kelsay at the Colorado 18 with 9:47 left in the third.

It was the first sack of the year for Rucker, who had 15« sacks coming into this season.

"He's not had as good a year as he wanted but he's a great player," Kelsay said. "The guy's a playmaker and it was nice to see him come through today."

But the Huskers couldn't capitalize and the Buffaloes went ahead with a 13-play, 80-yard scoring drive.

The Huskers led 10-7 at halftime after Brown made a 30-yard field goal as time expired in the half.

After Finley and Brown gave the Huskers a 7-0 lead, Moschetti answered for Colorado with a 17-yard TD pass to Green.

Marlon Barnes rushed for 102 yards on 25 carries for the Buffaloes but Colorado had only 112 rushing yards. The Huskers also had an poor day running the ball, finishing with 131 yards on the ground.