Huskers football effectively holds off Illinois, clinching a 20-7 win

Photo of Huskers in actions during the match against Illinois.

Nebraska and conference rival Illinois faced off in a Friday night lights clash, both aiming to recover from recent tough losses. The game was marred by mistakes made by both the Huskers and the Fighting Illini. Nevertheless, Nebraska seized upon these errors, ultimately securing a thrilling 20-7 victory.

The Huskers’ defense made an impressive resurgence, bouncing back from their previous heavy defeat against Michigan. They delivered a strong message by executing a critical goal-line stand during the opening drive of the game. Illinois struggled to gain ground, accumulating only 21 rushing yards, which placed pressure on quarterback Luke Altmyer to attempt a total of 47 passes. Altmyer completed 29 of these passes for 289 yards, resulting in one touchdown and one interception.

Issac Gifford led the charge for the Blackshirts, tallying eight total tackles for the evening, four of which were solo tackles. He also contributed three pass breakups and registered 0.5 tackles for loss. Gifford, along with the rest of the defense, played a pivotal role for Nebraska, creating crucial opportunities, such as forcing a fumble, making an interception, blocking a punt, and even recovering a kickoff.

These defensive exploits presented Heinrich Haarberg and the Husker offense with numerous chances to put points on the board. Haarberg completed 12 of 24 passes for a total of 154 yards and threw one interception.

On the ground, Nebraska collectively gained 158 rushing yards, with Haarberg leading the way by amassing 82 yards and notching a touchdown. Haarberg’s touchdown came after the kickoff recovery, which followed a touchdown run by Anthony Grant.

Nevertheless, Nebraska’s offense squandered some opportunities, accumulating ten penalties and committing three turnovers. These miscues allowed Illinois to remain competitive throughout the second half. After the forced fumble, Nebraska was only able to convert it into a field goal, resulting in the final score of 20-7.

In a departure from previous performances, Nebraska’s defense effectively held off the Fighting Illini, forcing their third fourth-down stop of the night with less than two minutes remaining. Following that, the Huskers managed the clock to secure their first victory over Illinois since 2019.

Nebraska currently maintains a 3-3 record through six games for the third consecutive year and will now enjoy a bye week. Following the bye week, they will return to host Northwestern in a celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Memorial Stadium, with the kickoff time yet to be determined.


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