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(Saturday, September 18th)
Final Score: (8) Nebraska 56, Washington 21
Seattle, WA (Sports Network) - Freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez continued to impress with three rushing scores and a passing touchdown in leading No. 8 Nebraska to a 56-21 throttling of Washington.
Martinez threw a 24-yard TD pass to Mike McNeill to open the scoring and went on to rush for 137 yards on 19 carries. His day included an 80-yard TD scamper, while Roy Helu Jr. ripped off a 65-yard scoring run -- one of two scores -- on the way to 110 yards on the ground.
Rex Burkhead added 104 rushing yards and a touchdown for the Cornhuskers (3-0), who easily dispatched of Western Kentucky and Idaho at home to start the year. The 3-0 start is just their third since 2004.
Washington senior quarterback Jake Locker had a game to forget, completing just four of his 20 passes for 71 yards with two interceptions -- one returned 31 yards by Alfonzo Dennard for a touchdown.
Locker did hook up with Jermaine Kearse for a 45-yard touchdown and ran for another score. He led the team in rushing with 59 yards on 11 touches while Chris Polk ran for 55 yards and a score for the Huskies (1-2), who were coming off a 41-20 win over Syracuse.
"Those guys are really good; they were good," said Huskies head coach Steve Sarkisian of Nebraska's defensive play versus Locker. "They're playing with DBs all over the field. They made plays on the ball that I haven't seen in a while. Their safeties are making plays on the ball and it was hard to get open, and when we did I thought maybe Jake was pressing a little bit today."
Washington had won five of its previous six games at Husky Stadium.
Nebraska built a 28-14 halftime lead and scored on its second play of the game after Locker was intercepted by Eric Hagg near midfield less than two minutes in.
A 24-yard run by Burkhead placed the ball at the Washington 24 and Martinez connected with McNeill from there for the early lead.
A quick three-and-out from the Huskies saw the ball back in enemy hands, and Nebraska found the end zone for a second time on its fifth play from scrimmage. Martinez stretched the field on a 55-yard completion to Brandon Kinnie on second down to reach the goal line and took it in himself on the next play for a 14-0 difference less than five minutes into the game.
Washington answered with a strong 11-play drive, with conversion runs of seven yards each by Polk and Locker on third down. The latter saw Locker reach the end zone, capping the 80-yard trek and halving the deficit.
While the Huskies offense mostly sputtered from there, NU pushed the lead to 21-7 early in the second quarter. A key 21-yard strike to Niles Paul on 3rd- and-16 moved the ball into Huskies territory and Helu Jr. rumbled in for an eight-yard score three plays later.
"We mixed it up pretty good on them. We just executed our game plan. Our guys did well, I thought they covered well, I thought we had a good push up front. I just thought our guys did a good job of playing their responsibilities and playing pretty good disciplined football," said Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini.
After another punt from the offense, the hosts benefited from a fumble recovery that placed the ball at Nebraska's six-yard line. Two plays later Polk crossed the goal line from two yards away to make it 21-14 with under five minutes remaining in the first half.
But Nebraska posted another score before the break. Kinnie took the ensuing kickoff back 39 yards and Martinez kept it himself from the one to forge a two-touchdown lead.
The Cornhuskers ratcheted up the offense after halftime, and opened up a sturdy 49-21 lead with 21 third-quarter points. Martinez set the tone by taking it 80 yards for six points on the first play from scrimmage.
"It's a tough environment to play in and I thought our guys handled it well. I thought it was a pretty full effort by our football team," Pelini added. "There's still a lot more out there for us...we have a long way to go as a football team but this was a good step along the way."
The barrage was interrupted by a quick 45-yard TD pass from Locker to Kearse, but Helu then broke off his 65-yard scoring run and the 'Huskers put an end to Washington's next drive with Dennard's pick-six of Locker for the 28-point margin.
A debilitating 80-yard drive in the fourth quarter shaved nearly six minutes from the clock and was capped by Burkhead's 19-yard touchdown.
Martinez ended 7-of-11 passing for 150 yards...Kinnie led all receivers with five catches and 105 yards...This bout marked the eighth all-time meeting between these two teams, with Nebraska taking a 4-3-1 edge in the series...Washington gained 246 yards of offense and was 4-of-14 on third downs...Nebraska hosts South Dakota State next Saturday, while the Huskies have a week off before traveling to take on USC.
09/18 21:13:21 ET