JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — En route to breaking Nebraska's single-season record for touchdown receptions — a record held by Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers, no less — NU senior Quincy Enunwa broke another record. His 99-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter was the longest in Husker history, four yards better than Fred Duda's 95-yard touchdown pass to Freeman White against Colorado in 1965.
With the play, Enunwa caught his 12th touchdown this year, one better than Rodgers, who caught 11 in 1971. Enunwa entered the day with 10 touchdowns, and he tied Rodgers in the second quarter with a 5-yard grab from quarterback Tommy Armstrong.
“It's huge, man,” Enunwa said of the record. “It's a testament to my work ethic this season and the trust the coaches had in me to make plays. I'm glad they put the trust in me to go out there and get 12 touchdowns. Not too many people can say they did that. It's a great way to finish my senior season.”
NU coach Bo Pelini said the record couldn't have been broken by a more deserving Husker. Enunwa is the Huskers' best perimeter blocker. A senior, he'll enter the NFL draft.
“He had such a great spring and great fall camp,” Pelini said. “When that kind of effort and focus turns into something and it pays off, that's what's fun about it. That's what's rewarding for me as a coach and Quincy as a player. Quincy's going to have a great, great career on Sundays. There's no question.
“The momentum's going for it, and he's going to have a heck of an opportunity — because of who he is as a man. Not just because of his talent, but who he is as a man, he's going to have great success. And whoever gets him at the next level is going to be lucky to have him.”
The Buc stops here to see Husker victory
Former Nebraska linebacker and current Tampa Bay Buccaneer linebacker Lavonte David emerged from a victorious locker room Wednesday with a big smile. Though David departed after the 2011 season, he enjoyed watching the Huskers break a three-game bowl drought.
“Long time coming,” David said. “They deserved it. With the adversity they had, it's much-needed. They played their hearts out and came out with the victory.”
David said he was impressed with NU's defensive effort and that a young group of linebackers is “promising.”
“They held them to four field goals and gave up one touchdown,” he said. “On my board, that's a win. Great red zone defense. They played together. They tackled.”
David finished this year with 144 tackles, six sacks and five interceptions. He wasn't selected, however, for the Pro Bowl. He may still make it as an alternate. Tampa Bay finished 4-12 and fired its coach, Greg Schiano, this week.
“I'd trade it all (stats) in to get a playoff berth,” David said. “And a chance to play in the Super Bowl. It's all about hard work and playing a game I love. Hopefully next year things change.”
Rain earlier in week ends up aiding NU
It rained on Nebraska's practices leading up to the Gator Bowl here in Jacksonville. More than once. So much so, actually, that the Huskers had to switch practice sites.
But redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong said he benefited Wednesday from those reps with the damp footballs. It rained for much of the game, but he had no problem gripping the ball and delivering it on target. He got used to it earlier in the week.
“I think it was just making sure we didn't get the ball so soaked and make sure we were rotating the balls out and make sure they stayed dry,” Armstrong said.
Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason, on the other hand, needed some time to adjust to the rain, according to offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. The precipitation lightened up after halftime, and that appeared to give Mason some confidence. Bobo called the game a bit differently when the rain let up, too.
“It enabled us to go downfield a little bit more,” Bobo said.
Bulldog tight end says incompletions will haunt
Senior tight end Arthur Lynch sat outside the Georgia locker room and lamented the two passes that he didn't catch in the fourth quarter Wednesday after hurting Nebraska with six receptions for 69 yards.
The second of those incompletions came as Lynch positioned himself just inside the NU 10-yard line for a Mason pass on fourth-and-three with 25 seconds left. Mason couldn't haul it in, effectively ending the game.
How long will it stick with Lynch?
“Probably for the rest of my life,” said Lynch, an All-SEC tight end who came into the game with 24 receptions and five touchdowns. “Whenever I think of my last game at Georgia, I'm not going to think about the plays I made. I'm going to think about the plays I didn't make.
“I think for anyone that loves sports, that loves football, it's going to be the same way. So that's just how it is.”
Oh, and the kicker scored 13 points
Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan scored more points (13) than any other Bulldog on Wednesday, but he was almost a forgotten man at the postgame press conference.
Morgan tied the Gator Bowl record for most field goals in one game with four. That standard was set by Nebraska's Alex Henery in 2009 and equaled a year later by Dustin Hopkins of Florida State (the Gator Bowl media guide omitted Henery's performance).
All of the questions at the Georgia media session were going to either head coach Mark Richt or quarterback Hutson Mason. Eventually Richt hinted at the oversight, ending the answer to the fifth question with: “I thought Marshall Morgan did good.”
Morgan replied, “Thanks, Coach,” and Richt followed up with: “Just thought we'd acknowledge that he's here.”
A writer not from Georgia eventually asked Morgan about the field conditions, a gesture Richt thanked the writer for after the press conference.
“Just coming into the game, I knew it was going to rain,” Morgan said. “Everything went smooth. I mean, it was wet out there. The field wasn't as we would have wanted, but we got it done.”
— Sam McKewon, Jon Nyatawa, Rich Kaipust and Steve Beideck