September 18th, 1999 (Lincoln, Neb.)
If it wasn’t for Julius Jackson, the No. 4/6 (AP/Coaches) Nebraska Cornhuskers might have been upset by the unranked Southern Miss Golden Eagles.
The senior linebacker from Gainesville, Texas scored two touchdowns, one on an interception return and the other on a fumble return to help the Huskers escape with a 20-13 win.
Jackson and his Blackshirt teammates forced a total of six turnovers to go along with five sacks, helping out a Husker offense that had only 185 yards of total offense.
Jackson began the scoring when he scooped up a fumble caused off a Kyle Vanden Bosch sack of USM quarterback Jeff Kelly, and raced 16-yards for the touchdown.
The extra point was missed but NU led 6-0.
Southern Miss regained its composure by forcing a turnover of its own and capitalized on it with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Kelly to wide receiver Todd Pinkston.
The Golden Eagles did not miss their extra point and had their first lead of the game at 7-6.
Nebraska’s offense led by quarterback Eric Crouch found little success against the aggressive USM defense. Not only did the Golden Eagles hold NU under 200 yards of total offense, they forced three fumbles and intercepted two Crouch passes.
“They used a multiple approach in their defense,” said NU head coach Frank Solich. “They showed us different fronts and mixed things up. And that’s certainly what you’d expect from them. They have very good speed. Their front seven are fine football players and they have an All-American rush end. It’s not a team that you can just line up and move it with consistency.”
The high powered rushing attack of the Big Red was almost a non-factor in the game except for when the Huskers scored their only offensive touchdown of the game. Junior fullback Willie Miller broke through the Southern Miss defense for an 8-yard touchdown run.
The two-point conversion failed but Nebraska was back on top at 12-7. That was how the score would stay as halftime concluded what was brewing up to be a tight, defensive ball game.
Southern Miss struck first in the second half with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Kelly to wide receiver Sherrod Gideon to regain the lead for the Golden Eagles at 13-12. The two-point conversion wasn’t kind to either team as USM tried their attempt but came up empty.
All through the second half Southern Miss’s defense continued to shut down the Husker offense, so the Nebraska defense went on the offensive again.
The time Jackson snatched a deflected pass out of the air, caused by the blitzing Keyuo Craver, and raced 28-yards for his second touchdown of the game.
Nebraska was successful with its two-point conversion, on a run by I-back Dan Alexander, and took a 20-13 lead into the fourth quarter.
USM made two serious attempts to send the game into overtime, but Craver saved the day with an interception to end both drives.
Thanks to the Blackshirt defense and the opportunistic Jackson, the Big Red remained unbeaten at 3-0 heading into the Big 12 Conference action.
"This was a dream game for any defensive player,” Jackson said. “The offense struggled, but they gave us the intensity it took to win the game and that is what matters. As a defense, we felt like we had to win the game today.”
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Shane Gilster is the Editor of Big Red Report Magazine. His stories focus mainly on catching up with former Huskers and examining Nebraska athletic history.