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Down to wire again
Christo scores two TDs as Nebraska fights off Missouri
Posted: Saturday October 24, 1998 07:05 PM
LINCOLN, Nebraska (AP) -- With the Count of Monte Christo running the offense in the second half and Eric Johnson delivering for the defense on the last play, Nebraska didn't need a miracle this time.
Former walk-on quarterback Monte Christo came off the bench for starter Bobby Newcombe, running for two second-half touchdowns as No. 7 Nebraska rallied to beat No. 19 Missouri 20-13 on Saturday.
Like last year's dramatic finish between the teams, it came down to the last play again. But this time, the Cornhuskers (7-1, 3-1 Big 12) didn't need an amazing catch to win.
Last year at Columbia, Missouri, Matt Davison caught a pass in the end zone after it had been kicked by teammate Shevin Wiggins as the Huskers tied it on a remarkable final play, then won 45-38 in overtime.
Christo, nicknamed "The Count of Monte Christo," was the difference this time with his extra-effort running, gaining many of his 67 rushing yards after contact with defenders.
"It was a blast out there," Christo said. "This was definitely the biggest moment for me, to come in and get something done when we needed it and give the team a shot in the arm."
But Christo also gave the Tigers (5-2, 3-1) a final opportunity by fumbling a snap as Nebraska tried to run out the clock, giving Missouri the ball near midfield with 1:38 to play.
Corby Jones drove the Tigers to Nebraska's 22 with nine seconds left, where he threw incomplete in the end zone to John Dausman, who let the ball go through his hands.
"It looked like it had the possibility to get caught," Nebraska coach Frank Solich said. "We had so many bad things happen to us, I thought a good thing might happen. That was one."
Jones lined up the Tigers up with four seconds left, scrambling in search of an open receiver before Johnson sacked him for a 12-yard loss that ended the game.
"I looked in Corby's eyes and it looked like he had checked off on something," Johnson said. "He rolled the other way. I just kept running and running. Somebody tried to cut-block me, and I fought that off, got to him and got it done."
Said Jones: "I didn't have a prayer on that one."
Nebraska players came off the sidelines to pile on Johnson, celebrating the Huskers' 20th straight victory over Missouri and their 47th straight win at Memorial Stadium.
Christo, a fifth-year senior who endured a series of injuries through his first four years in Lincoln, scored his first career rushing TD on a 1-yard run late in the third quarter to tie it 13-13.
"I've seen it all," said Christo, who put Nebraska ahead 20-13 on a 3-yard keeper with 10:27 to play. "I'm comfortable out there, being poised and able to think, then act. That's what I get from being here five years."
The Huskers limited Missouri's Devin West, the nation's No. 2 rusher at 175.1 yards per game, to 72 yards on 24 carries. The Tigers rushed for only 77 yards.
Jones, who threw for 233 yards and three TDs last year against Nebraska, was 8-of-20 for 89 yards this time.
Wiggins and Davison contributed again on the third-quarter drive that helped Nebraska tie it 13-13. Wiggins returned a punt 43 yards to Missouri's 14. On third-and-8 from the 12, Christo threw his only completion -- a 7-yard pass to Davison, who scooped the ball just above the turf much as he did in making last year's catch.
"Every year it comes down to something like that. It's kind of ironic, I guess," Davison said.
Christo, who relieved Newcombe for two series in the first half before taking over after halftime, got a first down on a sneak and scored two plays later.
Newcombe, still limited by swelling stemming from a partially torn knee ligament, rushed for 33 yards and was 7-of-11 for 65 yards. It wasn't known if he'll be ready for next week's game against Texas.
"We're going to take it one step at a time and make sure Bobby is close to 100 percent," quarterback coach Turner Gill said. "If he's like he was today, then next week we'll probably go with another quarterback."
Nebraska got an added offensive lift from Correll Buckhalter, who carried for 125 yards as the Huskers finished with 256 rushing yards.
Missouri led 13-6 at halftime, thanks to a 41-yard fumble return for a touchdown by defensive tackle Steve Erickson and a blocked field goal that Harold Piersey returned to the Nebraska 25.
Four minutes into the second quarter, the 6-foot-4, 280-pound Erickson collected a fumbled pitch from Christo to Buckhalter and ran untouched to the end zone.
"I'm lucky I had my teammates blocking for me because I don't have real blazing speed," Erickson said. "But I had enough juice to make it to the end zone."
Freshman Brian Long, attempting his first college extra point, was wide left.
About three minutes later, nose tackle Jeff Marriott blocked a 38-yard field goal attempt by Nebraska's Kris Brown. Wade Perkins caught the ball and pitched to Piersey, who ran 44 yards.
The Tigers drove to a first down at the 3 and, after Chad Kelsay jumped offside, had first-and-goal at the 1. West appeared to fumble on his first of three unsuccessful dives, but on fourth down Jones scored on a keeper 4:58 before halftime.
Newcombe answered by directing a 68-yard scoring drive, capped by Brown's 30-yard field goal as the first half ended.
The two field goals represented Nebraska's lowest first-half scoring at home since the Huskers trailed Oklahoma 14-3 in 1991. Nebraska rallied to win that game 19-14.
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