LINCOLN, Neb. — When Arkansas State needed it most in a 42-13 loss to Nebraska, the Red Wolves' prolific offense stalled again.
The Red Wolves had a chance to make it a two-score game in the third quarter Saturday after they recovered a punt ruled to have glanced off the return man's foot at the Nebraska 15.
The Cornhuskers stuffed Rocky Hayes for no gain and Ryan Aplin threw two straight incompletions, forcing the Red Wolves to settle for Brian Davis' 32-yard field goal.
Arkansas State (1-2), which earned $1 million for playing the game, was down 29 points before it crossed into Nebraska territory again.
"The offense was stagnant, to say the least, in the second half and it didn't give us a chance to win the ball game," Red Wolves coach Gus Malzahn said. "I don't know if we had 300 yards of offense, but we had a couple of chances to get into the red zone. Especially the (Nebraska) turnover — that was probably the turning point in the game. If we could have put it in the end zone it might of made it interesting."
Nebraska (2-1) won after coach Bo Pelini was taken to the hospital by ambulance at halftime for what he called "precautionary tests."
Taylor Martinez threw two touchdown passes to Kenny Bell for Nebraska (2-1), and Ameer Abdullah ran for a career-high 167 yards and two scores, filling in for the injured Rex Burkhead.
Pelini said in a statement from the hospital after the game that he was doing fine.
"They ran some precautionary tests on me and everything checked out fine" Pelini said. "I plan to be back at work tomorrow. I'm proud of the way our coaching staff and team responded."
An ambulance took the 44-year-old Pelini to a hospital after he complained of not feeling well in the first half. A member of the Nebraska athletic medicine staff was seen checking his pulse, but he continued to coach through the end of the second quarter.
The Huskers were in bounce-back mode after surrendering 653 yards in a 36-30 loss at UCLA last week, the second-highest yardage total Nebraska had ever allowed an opponent.
Nebraska mixed three- and four-man defensive fronts against a Red Wolves team that scored 34 points in a loss to then-No.5 Oregon two weeks ago and averaged 574.5 yards its first two games.
The Red Wolves' offense dented the Huskers for some big gains but was held to two field goals and 286 yards, 89 in the second half.
The Red Wolves' only TD came when Qushaun Lee recovered Martinez's fumble in the end zone in the third quarter.
Martinez was 13 of 14 for 180 yards and ran 18 yards for the Huskers' final touchdown.
Arkansas State gambled and lost on the opening series of the game, giving Nebraska a short field for its first touchdown. Malzahn went for it on fourth-and-8 at the Nebraska 49, and Aplin overthrew J.D. McKissic along the sideline.
Abdullah, who carried 30 times, touched the ball on six of eight plays before he crashed in from the 1.
Arkansas State's next series ended when P.J. Smith intercepted Fredi Knighten's halfback pass.
"That took a little of the momentum away," Malzahn said.
Martinez got some help from Bell on his first TD pass. Bell was well-covered and had to come back and get the ball before stepping into the end zone for the 42-yard score.
Martinez was flawless on the Huskers' third scoring drive. He ran for 27 yards, converted a third-and-8 with a 15-yard pass to Quincy Enunwa and changed the play at the line of scrimmage before finding Bell on a post pattern for a 25-yard TD that made it 21-3.
Nebraska went 75 yards to score just before half, with Abdullah running on seven of 10 plays and going 2 yards for the TD.