Martinez, Huskers grind out 28-3 win over Buffalo
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Martinez, Huskers grind out 28-3 win over Buffalo

As the sun beat down and on-field temperatures reached above 100 degrees, Nebraska’s defense carried the load from start to finish and the offense got the big plays it needed in a 28-3 win over Buffalo on Saturday.

Quarterback Adrian Martinez had one of the best overall individual performances of his career, completing 13-of-19 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns while rushing nine times for a game-high 112 yards.

On the other side, the Blackshirt played up to their name by stopping Buffalo on 11-of-22 third downs, picking off a critical fourth-quarter interception, and forcing two turnovers on downs.

Most importantly, the three points were the fewest NU had allowed since a 24-3 win over Michigan State on Oct. 29, 2011.

Adrian Martinez racked up 354 total yards and two touchdowns to help lead Nebraska to its second straight victory.
Adrian Martinez racked up 354 total yards and two touchdowns to help lead Nebraska to its second straight victory. (Associated Press)

After a bend-but-don’t break defensive stop to open the game, Nebraska missed out on an early lead when Connor Culp shanked a 32-yard field goal wide right with 3:38 left in the first quarter.

The Huskers had another missed scoring opportunity when a 26-yard touchdown pass to Samori Toure was negated by a questionable offensive pass interference penalty, leading to a punt.

Finally, with just over seven minutes left in the second quarter, NU got its first big play of the day when Martinez escaped a sack and scrambled 71 yards down to the Bulls 4-yard line. Gabe Ervin barreled his way into the end zone on the next play to give Nebraska a 7-0 lead.

A fourth-down stop gave the Huskers the ball back at midfield with four minutes left in the half, but a 44-yard juggling touchdown catch by Zavier Betts was taken off the board by a holding penalty, forcing Nebraska to punt.

But despite an 81-yard pooch punt by Buffalo quarterback Kyle Vantrease, Martinez connected with Toure for a 68-yard scoring pass - with no flags - with just 34 seconds remaining.

Buffalo nearly cut into the lead at the end of the half, but Alex McNulty missed a 52-yard field goal as time expired to send NU into halftime up 14-0.

Nebraska out-gained Buffalo 259-137, with Martinez accounting for 226 of those yards.

The Huskers started the second half with a chance to add to that advantage, but Culp again went wide right on a 42-yard field goal try to leave NU empty-handed.

A 30-yard run by Kyle Marks got the Bulls deep into Nebraska territory on the ensuing drive, but a costly taunting penalty on Dylan McDuffie stalled the drive and led to a 45-yard field goal by McNulty with 9:17 left in the third.

With momentum starting to teeter toward Buffalo, the Blackshirts came up with arguably the play of the game when Luke Reimer hauled in a tipped pass for an interception and returned it 22 yards to the UB one.

Ervin punched it in on the next play, and the Huskers took a 21-3 lead with 14:47 remaining.

The Bulls tried to chip away again after driving down to the Nebraska 34, but the threat ended with a turnover on downs. Buffalo got another crack at it two series later when a punt hit off a Husker player, and UB recovered at the Nebraska 38.

That opportunity, too, came up empty, as Buffalo opted for a 50-yard field goal that sailed right.

Finally, Nebraska put the nail in the coffin on the very next play, as Martinez found Toure for a 68-yard touchdown strike to make it 28-3 with 5:53 to go.

Another missed field goal by McNulty, this one from 42 yards, a 49-yard pass from backup QB Logan Smothers to tight end Chris Hickman, and yet another missed field goal by Culp capped off a bizarre ending to the eventual 25-point victory.

The Huskers finished with 516 yards of total offense, marking their second straight game with 500-plus yards.

Next week, Nebraska will hit the road when it travels to take on No. 4 Oklahoma for a nationally-televised noon kickoff on FOX.