The Huskies were plenty resilient - just not enough to overcome a red sea against them.
Eleventh-ranked Nebraska took advantage of two critical plays bracketing halftime to score 17 points before Keith Price rallied Washington with three of his four touchdown passes in the final quarter of the Cornhuskers' eventual, 51-38 victory over the Huskies on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Price completed 21 of 37 throws for 274 yards and his second-consecutive four TD passing day. And he did it withstanding a relentless and punishing Nebraska defense that pounded him into a noticeable limp by the fourth quarter.
Chris Polk ran for 130 yards on 22 carries, his third 100-yard rushing day in as many games since arthroscopic knee surgery a month ago, to silence the 85,000 screaming for Big Red - somewhat, anyway. But the junior's 14th-career 100-yard day was not enough to extend a six-game winning streak for Washington (2-1), which included a 19-7 win over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl last December.
The game was tied at 17 late in the second quarter when Nebraska returner Tim Marlowe ran up to field a high but relatively short punt by UW's Kiel Rasp. In doing so, Marlowe ran into a gaggle of players from both teams - and appeared to contact a teammate while muffing the punt. The Huskies recovered at the Nebraska 25, but officials called Washington for kick-catching interferences.
Coach Steve Sarkisian was livid on the sidelines, further frustrated by the fact the play is a judgment call and is thus not reviewable by the replay official - much like a pass-interference or holding penalty.
Nebraska took the reprieve, plus the 15-yard penalty, and drove for the go-ahead field goal on the final play of the first half for a 20-17 lead.
It crumbled for Washington from there.
After a three-and-out on offense to begin the second half, Nebraska methodically marched 56 yards for a 1-yard touchdown run by Rex Burkhead. Huskies freshman Bishop Sankey bobbled the ensuing kickoff in the end zone twice, then kicked the ball out the Huskies 1. He and fellow returner Kevin Smith had chances to secure a recovery but lost the ball, and the Cornhuskers recovered at the 1.
Burkhead ran it in from there, and Nebraska led 34-17 with 10:09 left in the third quarter.
After Keith Price was sacked on fourth down with the Huskies deep in Nebraska territory but down 37-17 early in the fourth quarter, the Cornhuskers answered with a 6-yard touchdown run by Aaron Green. That made it 44-17 - and 27 unanswered points in 19 minutes by Nebraska.
Yet the Huskies would not relent. Price threw three touchdown passes in the final quarter - two of them to Johnson, who finished with six catches for 108 yards. The last one made it 51-38 with 4:27 left.
But Nebraska recovered the onside kick. The Huskies stopped the 'Huskers on fourth down, but Price's desperate heave to Jermaine Kearse - who caught Price's other two scoring throws earlier -- with just over a minute left and UW out of time outs. That ended the gritty effort.
QUICK HITS: Polk has the third-most 100-yard games in school history behind Napoleon Kaufman's 17 and Greg Lewis' 15. He rushed 34 times for 177 yards and a touchdown in the Holiday Bowl against the Cornhuskers. ... Nebraska out-gained Washington 464-420, but forced two UW turnovers. The Huskies forced one Nebraska turnover, a fumble. ... A key for Washington was stopping QB Taylor Martinez running. The Huskies didn't. Martinez had 83 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown. Burkhead had 120 yards on 22 carries. Nebraska gained 309 yards on the ground.