Martinez Grows Up As Huskers Pull Away From Fresno State
In a game that was closer than many expected, Nebraska defeated Fresno State 42-29. Bulldog head coach Pat Hill had expressed concerns about defending the option leading up to the game and his worries were validated as Husker quarterback Taylor Martinez rolled up 154 yards and two touchdowns which ended up being the difference in the contest.
Fresno State got off to a fast start with a 67 yard punt return for a touchdown by Devon Wylie. NU answered with a Martinez score, but the Bulldogs responded with a touchdown drive that ended with FSU quarterback Derek Carr scoring from three yards out.
NU running back Rex Burkhead tied the game at 14 in the second quarter with a one-yard score before Fresno State put together a time-killing field goal drive to take a 17-14 halftime lead. FSU managed another field goal to open the third quarter before Nebraska started to pull away.
Martinez found wideout Quincy Enunwa for a 16-yard touchdown to give Nebraska a 21-20 lead in the middle of the third quarter. Then Burkhead extended the lead with a six-yard touchdown early in the fourth period to make the score 28-20. Fresno State answered with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Josh Harper, but their two-point conversion attempt failed.
Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah responded with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to make it a 35-26 ballgame. After a patient FSU field goal drive which mostly featured Bulldog running back Robbie Rouse, the score narrowed to 35-29. Then Martinez delivered the knockout blow with a 46-yard touchdown run with two minutes remaining.
The performance of Martinez was night and day between the first and second halves. His first half included three turnovers. His second half saw him make clutch passes and clutch runs to lead his team to victory on a night where the defense needed help. The Bulldogs amassed 444 total yards and didn't take a single sack. The only FSU turnover was committed by their defense. They were also called for the game's only offensive holding penalty which may have something to do with their success.
Martinez still has flaws to work on. Ball security, patience in the pocket, and telescoping passes are all areas for improvement. But he showed that his ability to make positive plays can still be an asset to the team. That will be essential as the opponents continue to get better for Nebraska.