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Darlington honored

Nebraska assistant coach George Darlington was presented with the game ball on the field following Saturday's 44-13 victory over Utah State. The longtime member of the Cornhuskers' coaching staff coached in his 300th victory in his 30th season at Nebraska.

Darlington joined the NU coaching staff during Tom Osborne's first year as head coach in 1973, assisting the Hall of Fame coach to 255 wins. He has helped with 45 more victories under current Husker coach Frank Solich for a total of 300.

Prior to receiving the game ball, Darlington was soaked with a cooler of ice water for the first time in his career by his players. "It's really amazing," Darlington said. "First of all, you realize you've been blessed with a great program, one of the winningest programs in the history of college football è I've had an opportunity to work for Frank and Tom, and that also makes it great. It's exciting and a tribute to the program."

The day's best

ö Block — Nebraska's Marques Simmons blind-sided a Utah State player and knocked into an Aggie teammate to help spring DeJuan Groce for a 17-yard punt return in the first quarter to the USU 23-yard line. The Huskers scored on the next play as quarterback Jammal Lord hit Wilson Thomas for a scoring pass.

ö Pass (that was caught) — Utah State's Jose Fuentes threw a perfect strike to wide receiver Kevin Curtis in the corner of the end zone for the Aggies' first touchdown of the season with 3:19 left in the first quarter. The play covered 26 yards and capped a 4-play, 80-yard drive to cut Nebraska's lead to 17-7.

ö Pass (that wasn't caught) — Lord fired a perfect first-quarter strike to a streaking Thomas that could've gone for a long touchdown. However, the ball slipped through Thomas' fingers and fell incomplete.

ö Hit — Despite a broken hand, Nebraska middle linebacker Barrett Ruud delivered a crushing blow on Fuentes, whose pass attempt fluttered in the air and was intercepted by Groce. Fuentes appeared to be shaken up, but returned for Utah State's next offensive series.

Special teams report

ö Nebraska place-kicker Josh Brown made a field goal for the third consecutive game and is 4-of-4 on the season. The senior put the Huskers ahead 3-0 with 9:18 left in the first quarter with a 44-yard field goal — his longest ever in a regular season game. Brown had a 51-yard field goal in the 2000 Alamo Bowl. The Oklahoma native has made three field goals of 40 or more yards this season, including six in a row and nine of his last 10 dating back to last season. He has scored eight points in the game and how has 254 for his career to move up from seventh to sixth, passing Calvin Jones (252 points from 1991-93)

ö Punter Kyle Larson set a new career mark with a booming 71-yard punt with 2 1/2 minutes left in the first quarter with the help of a 15 mph wind at his back. Larson's previous best was 68 yards last season against Oklahoma. For the game, Larson averaged a career single-game best 57.3 yards on four punts, falling just short of Dan Hadenfeldt's school single-game record of 57.6 in 1999 at Colorado.

ö On the returns front, Groce had four punt returns for 66 yards, including a 27-yarder. He now ranks sixth on the NU career punt return chart, passing Irving Fryar with 737 career yards. Kickoff return specialist Josh Davis had a season-long 42-yard return in the second half, moving to fifth on NU's career charts with 827 yards. Davis also rushed for a career-high 51 yards on seven carries.

Husker huddle

ö Nebraska true freshman tight end Matt Herian caught his first career pass and his first career touchdown pass on the first play of the second quarter, hauling in a 33-yard pass from Lord to put the Huskers ahead 24-7.

ö Groce had two interceptions for the second straight game, picking off passes in the second and third quarters. The senior cornerback now has four interceptions on the season, surpassing his 2001 total of three and matching his previous career total of four.

ö Nebraska backup I-back Thunder Collins didn't play as he served the second of a 4-game suspension against Utah State.

ö With his 22-yard carry early in the second quarter, Nebraska I-back Dahrran Diedrick topped the 2,000-yard for his career, joining 20 other Huskers who have reached the milestone. Diedrick finished with 93 yards on 16 carries and ranks 21st all time at NU with 2,049 career yards.

ö Sighted in the press box Saturday: Former Nebraska quarterback and Wood River native Scott Frost, who is on the Green Bay Packers' injured reserve list. Also on hand, former Nebraska All-America baseball pitcher Shane Komine.

ö The Huskers are 7-0 in their all-time series against Utah State. è Split end Ross Pilkington caught his first pass as a Husker. è NU's 288 yards rushing was a season-best mark. è Nebraska had a season-high six sacks, led by Chris Kelsay's two sacks. è Linebacker Demorrio Williams unofficially led the Huskers with six tackles.

Night time the right time

Memorial Stadium is regarded as one of the toughest places in the nation for opposing teams. In recent years, opponents have had even more difficulty competing against the Huskers in night games in Lincoln. Nebraska owns a 17-1 record all-time in night games at Memorial Stadium, beginning with a 34-17 victory over Florida State in 1986. Nebraska has now won 12 consecutive night games at home, including two straight victories to open the 2002 campaign.

Nebraska has dominated the opposition throughout the streak, posting 10 of the 12 wins by 17 or more points. In all, 13 of Nebraska's 16 home night victories have been by 17 points or more, with a 36-21 loss to Washington in 1991 NU's only blemish in home contests under the lights.

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