On a glorious Spring Game Day at Memorial Stadium, nearly 80,000 red-clad Husker fans watched Nebraska quarterbacks combine for 693 passing yards on 62 completions, as the Red Team rolled to a 55-7 victory over the White Team on Saturday.
With partly sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-70s, 78,312 fans enjoyed perfect football weather while watching an entertaining game between a new crop of Cornhuskers. In debut performances for Lee and O'Brien leading the No. 1 offense for the Red team, the Husker quarterbacks did not disappoint. Lee completed 13-of-19 passes for 190 yards and three touchdowns, while O'Brien completed 11-of-17 passes for 134 yards and a score.
For the game, four Nebraska quarterbacks completed 62-of-95 passes with five touchdowns, while 25 different receivers caught passes for the two teams.
Freshman quarterback Tristan Gebbia also moved the White offense effectively throughout the first half against the top defensive units. In fact, Gebbia gave the White team a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter with his four-yard touchdown run that capped a 12-play, 75-yard drive that consumed 6:14 on the game clock. Gebbia set up his scoring run by completing 5-of-7 passes for 64 yards on the drive. Sophomore-to-be Caleb Lightbourn kicked the extra point to give the White a 7-6 edge. After that, the day belonged to the Red Team.
Veteran place-kicker Drew Brown put the Red Team on the board in the first quarter by booting a pair of mid-range field goals (35, 33) to give the Red Team a 6-0 lead. Running back Tre Bryant led the Big Red on the opening drive under the direction of O'Brien. Bryant carried twice for 25 yards and added a three-yard reception from O'Brien to set up Brown's 35-yarder. Bryant ended his day with three carries for 36 yards,
On the Red Team's second scoring drive, Mikale Wilbon carried twice for 10 yards, while Devine Ozigbo added two totes for eight yards. Lee completed 4-of-6 passes on the drive, including a pair of 15-yarders to JD Spielman and Tyler Hoppes and a 13-yard pass to De'Mornay Pierson-El. Spielman finished his day with four receptions for 70 yards while adding one run for three yards. Hoppes also had a big day, hauling in four catches for 66 yards. But Lee's first drive stalled at the White 16-yard line and Brown connected on a 33-yard field goal to give the Red a 6-0 lead.
O'Brien's second possession at quarterback featured Ozigbo on the ground, with the junior-to-be carrying five times for 41 yards, while adding a seven-yard reception. Ozigbo capped the drive with a six-yard touchdown, immediately after he bolted 19 yards to set up the score. Ozigbo ended the day with seven carries for 49 yards, while adding two receptions for 22 yards. O'Brien added a 19-yard pass to Hoppes and a 13-yard strike to Keyan Williams on the 10-play, 75-yard march that gave the Red Team a 13-7 edge with 8:03 left in the half. Williams closed his day with six receptions for 69 yards.
The Red defense then came up with a big play, as Luke Gifford stripped the ball from Keyshawn Johnson Jr. after a six-yard completion from Gebbia. Gifford recovered the fumble he forced, setting Lee and the offense up at midfield. Two plays later, Lee hit Spielman on a 30-yard touchdown strike to push the Red Team's lead to 20-7. Lee opened the quick-strike drive with a 21-yard pass to Hoppes.
Gebbia and the White Team tried to answer, moving the ball 48 yards before Gifford came up with another big play for the Big Red defense. Gifford stepped into a stray pass at the 18-yard line and returned the interception 24 yards to the 42-yard line.
This time, O'Brien converted the turnover to points, completing 5-of-7 passes on a crisp 58-yard touchdown drive that took just 1:05. O'Brien capped the drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Wilbon, after the drive opened with an 11-yard pass to the running back. Wilbon finished his day with three carries for 25 yards, while adding a pair of receptions for 20 yards. The Red Team's third touchdown of the quarter sent them to the locker room with a 27-7 halftime lead.
The third quarter featured a 20-minute continuous clock and Lee kept the Red Team moving after Gebbia and the White team had their opening drive of the second half end on downs inside the red zone. Lee completed 5-of-6 passes on the Red's first drive, capped by his nine-yard pass to tight end Jack Stoll to give the Red a 34-7 lead. Lee completed passes to five different receivers on the 83-yard touchdown drive, including a 21-yarder to Bryan Reimers.
Although Gebbia was unable to lead the White Team to more points, he and running back Grant Mazour did keep them moving throughout the half, until the pair switched to the Red Team later in the game. As a White Team running back, Mazour caught four passes for 78 yards, while adding two carries for four yards on the ground. As a member of the Red Team, he added four carries for 57 yards, including a touchdown, while adding two receptions for three yards. Overall on the day, Mazour finished with six receptions for 81 yards and six carries for 61 yards, accounting for 142 all-purpose yards.
In fact, Mazour scored the Red Team's opening touchdown of a 20-minute fourth quarter with his five-yard burst to paydirt with 18:33 left. Mazour set up the scoring run with a 14-yard run, after opening the drive with a 13-yard reception from O'Brien. The drive also featured a 21-yard pass play from O'Brien to Keyan Williams.
After the Red Team forced a four-and-out against Gebbia, Lee hit Gabe Rahn on a 23-yard pass on a drive that started at the White Team's 34, before hitting Tanner Hass on an 11-yard touchdown strike with 12:25 left to push the Red Team edge to 48-7.
Gebbia led the Red Team on its final scoring drive, a mammoth 14-play, 77-yard march that took 5:50. Gebbia completed 6-of-12 passes on the drive, including an 11-yard pass to Hass on 4th-and-3. For the day, Hass hauled in four receptions for 33 yards while adding one carry for five yards.
For the day, Gebbia completed 28-of-45 passes for 268 yards and one score. He went 19-for-30 for 213 yards but did throw one interception as the White Team quarterback. He completed 9-of-15 passes for 55 yards and a score as a member of the Red Team.
Quarterback Andrew Bunch also moved the White Team effectively behind Gebbia, completing 10-of-14 passes for 101 yards. Sean Lambert was Bunch's top target, grabbing four receptions for 31 yards, while adding one carry for six yards. David Engelhaupt also had a busy receiving day for the Husker tight end corps, grabbing four receptions for 54 yards.