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Nebraska can't overcome their miscues

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POSTED January 2, 2012 7:11 p.m.

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Nebraska coach Bo Pelini stressed the importance of his team avoiding in the Capital One Bowl the same self-inflicted mistakes that held back the Cornhuskers in their first year in the Big Ten.
Instead, Nebraska's postseason was much like its regular season.
Alshon Jeffery had four catches for 148 yards and a touchdown before getting ejected for fighting, and No. 10 South Carolina's defense had six sacks and shut out No. 21 Nebraska in the final three quarters of 30-13 win Monday.
Nebraska (9-4) was just 1 for 3 in the red zone and Taylor Martinez threw an interception late in the second quarter that set up the Gamecocks' go-ahead touchdown.
"We had opportunities, we had plenty of opportunities and we didn't take advantage of them," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. "For that I give South Carolina credit, but we did a lot to help them. It's a shame. Tough game. Tough loss."
The Cornhuskers lost their second consecutive bowl game and drop to 12-6 all-time in bowl matchups against Southeastern Conference foes.
The victory gave South Carolina (11-2) 11 wins for the first time in school history and snapped a string of three straight bowl losses.
Both teams lost standout players in the third quarter when Jeffery, playing weeks after surgery on his hand, and Cornhuskers cornerback Alfonso Dennard were ejected for throwing punches at each other after a play.
"They said they both threw punches, and they have to throw them out," Pelini said.
But the Gamecocks kept the pressure on even without him and went up 23-13 with 12:25 to play on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Connor Shaw to Kenny Miles. Miles then added a 3-yard touchdown run with just over three minutes left — his first of the season — to put the game out of reach.
"There were some tough situations," said Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead, who finished with 89 rushing yards. "We got in the red zone plenty of times and couldn't finish it. It is tough when you have no minimum like that and just don't 'execute. We give the credit to South Carolina. They did a tremendous job and made changes at halftime, but we beat ourselves in a lot of phases of the game."
Jeffery out-jumped the Nebraska secondary in the end zone to catch a 51-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass from Shaw at the end of the first half to send the Gamecocks into the locker room with a 16-13 lead.
Shaw passed for 161 yards in the half, hooking up with Jeffery on four of his five completions. Shaw finished the game 11 for 17 for 230 yards and ran for 42 yards and a touchdown.
It helped pick up the slack for a stagnant South Carolina rushing attack, which produced just 58 yards on 21 attempts.
It also made up for an offensive line that allowed Shaw to be sacked three times in the opening 30 minutes.
The Gamecocks led 9-6, but kept a Cornhuskers' drive alive late in the first quarter after picking up a third down, 15-yard face mask penalty. Nebraska scored three plays later on a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Ameer Abdullah.
Nebraska needed just 56 seconds to score the game's first touchdown when Martinez found receiver Kenny Bell for a 30-yard touchdown pass.
South Carolina defensive tackle Travian Robertson blocked the extra point, though, and Stephon Gilmore scooped it up and returned it for the 2-point defensive PAT.
The Gamecocks offensive kept the momentum going on their ensuing drive, capping an 11-play, 55-yard drive with a fourth down, goal line quarterback sneak by Shaw.
"We were right there in the game," Pelini said. "They were right there...You have to earn it. It's a humbling game. You give them credit. They made plays ... But we just didn't execute in the times we needed to do it and we made enough mistakes that we were our own worst enemy a lot of times.
"You can't win football games like that."

 

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