In his first college start, Heinrich Haarberg threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score to deliver Matt Rhule his first win as coach at Nebraska, 35-11, over Northern Illinois on Saturday in Lincoln, Neb.
In the home opener for the Cornhuskers (1-2), Haarberg completed 14 of 24 passes for 158 yards and rushed 21 times for 98 yards. The sophomore was subbing for starter Jeff Sims, who suffered a sprained ankle in a loss last week at Colorado.
The Nebraska defense dominated Northern Illinois (1-2), limiting the Huskies to 149 yards and 12 first downs.
Northern Illinois’ lone score of the first half came by way of a turnover as George Gumbs forced a Haarberg fumble that Skylar Gill-Howard recovered at the Cornhuskers’ 5. Four plays later, Jake Seibert kicked a 30-yard field goal.
Aside from that possession, Northern Illinois didn’t cross midfield until the closing minutes, when backup quarterback Ethan Hampton directed a touchdown drive.
Nash Hutmacher had 2 1/2 tackles for a loss to lead the stingy Nebraska defense. Javin Wright added an interception for the Cornhuskers, which set up an 11-yard touchdown run by Anthony Grant in the fourth quarter.
The Cornhuskers limited Huskies quarterback Rocky Lombardi to 11 completions in 28 attempts for 73 yards. Northern Illinois gained 26 yards on 22 rushes.
Nebraska scored on its first possession as Haarberg accounted for all 55 yards of a six-play march, rushing for 19 yards and throwing twice for 36 yards, including 10 on a touchdown pass to Billy Kemp IV.
In the second quarter, Nebraska took over at the Northern Illinois 36 after pinning the Huskies deep in their own territory and forcing a punt. Four plays later, Haarberg found Thomas Fidone II open across the middle for a 16-yard touchdown pass.
The Cornhuskers increased their lead to 21-3 in the third quarter with a 76-yard, 14-play drive, capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by Gabe Ervin Jr. Haarberg was clutch on the drive, converting four third-down plays, three with passes and one with a run.
Ervin finished with 67 yards on 14 carries. Grant added 46 yards on seven rushes.
– Field Level Media
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