Huskers start season 0-2 for first time since 1957
LINCOLN — Nebraska lost for the eighth time in nine games Saturday, falling to Troy, 24-19, to start the Scott Frost era with an 0-2.
Frost becomes the first Nebraska coach since Bill Jennings in 1957 to begin his tenure 0-2.
The Huskers trailed 17-0 at one point to road underdog Troy, but a fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Andrew Bunch to JD Spielman pulled Nebraska within one score with just under three minutes left in the game.
After a Troy three-and-out, Nebraska got the ball back at their own 28-yard line with 2:26 left in the game. On the second play of the drive, Bunch threw his second pick of the day, and Troy ran out the clock.
Bunch, a walk-on, started in place of the injured Adrian Martinez. Bunch was 19 for 27 for 177 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Nebraska ran for 187 yards, 92 of which came from true freshman Maurice Washington and 64 from Greg Bell. Will Honas led Nebraska with eight tackles, and Tre Neal had seven.
Nebraska out-gained Troy 364 to 253, but Nebraska was 5 for 15 on third down.
Troy quarterback Kaleb Barker finished the day 14 for 21 for 110 yards and one interception. Running back BJ Smith had 11 carries for 70 yards and two scores. Smith put the dagger in with 6:45 left in the fourth quarter with a 26-yard touchdown run, which put Troy up 24-13. On that drive, Troy converted three times on third-and-9 to keep the drive alive.Nebraska entered halftime down 17-7, thanks in part to a 58-yard punt return touchdown by Troy’s Cedarius Rookard and two first-half turnovers by Nebraska. A 9-yard run from BJ Smith put Troy up 17-0 with 5:12 left in the second quarter.Nebraska salvaged a bit of that deficit with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Bunch to Stanley Morgan just before the half. A muffed punt by Rookyard gave Nebraska the ball in the red zone early in the third. Nebraska ran twice with Devine Ozigbo for two total yards and a pass fell incomplete on third-and-8. A 23-yard field goal by Barett Pickering cut the lead to 17-10.Nebraska’s defense held Troy at bay, giving the offense plenty of opportunities, but the Husker offense couldn’t seem to get out of its own way through three quarters. Bunch found Spielman in the flat for a touchdown pass midway through the third, but that was called back for holding. Pickering tacked on another field goal from 32 yards to make it 17-13 with 3:02 left in the third.To begin the fourth, Nebraska elected to punt on fourth-and-1 near midfield. A 24-yard punt from Caleb Lightbourn gave Troy good field position. On third-and-9, Barker found Sidney Davis for 13 yards to keep the Troy drive alive. On another third-and-9, NU safety Aaron Williams was called for pass interference, pushing Troy to the Nebraska 39. And the next third-and-9, Barker ran for 17 yards for another conversion. Two plays later, Smith put Troy up 11 with a 26-yard run.A 26-yard pass from Bunch to tight end Kurt Radfal put Nebraska in the red zone with a little more than three minutes left. Bunch found Spielman two plays later for a 7-yard touchdown pass. A two-point conversion fell incomplete, and Nebraska trailed 24-19 with 2:55 left.Hope was breathed into the stadium when Bunch and the Huskers got the ball back less than 30 seconds later. The final pick from Bunch punched the stadium in the gut.