Pelini falls ill during Nebraska victory

Associated Press Modified: September 15, 2012 at 8:02 pm •  Published: September 15, 2012
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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Bo Pelini wasn't acting like himself on the sideline Saturday, and defensive coordinator John Papuchis could tell something wasn't quite right with the Nebraska head coach known for being effusive and emotional.

"Not that I knew there was anything wrong with him," Papuchis said. "He was just a little bit less vocal than he normally is."

Pelini was taken by ambulance to a hospital while his Cornhuskers were in the middle of a 42-13 victory over Arkansas State. He said in a statement released through the athletic department that he underwent precautionary tests that "checked out just fine" and that he planned to work Sunday. Nebraska spokesman Keith Mann said Pelini was out of the hospital Saturday night.

When Pelini gets around to watching the film of what he missed, he'll like what he sees.

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.

"I'm proud of our team and coaching staff for the way they responded this afternoon," Pelini said in his statement.

The 44-year-old Pelini 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.

There was no word on the nature of Pelini's symptoms.

Papuchis led the team onto the field for the third quarter and shared head coaching duties with offensive coordinator Tim Beck.

"Bo is as close to me as anybody," Papuchis said, "so my initial reaction was more as a friend than business colleague. I had to compose myself for a second because of my concern for his well-being. At the end of the day he would want nothing other than for us to go out and perform as well as we possibly could, so you have to pull together and go to work."

Linebacker Will Compton said there was a subdued mood in the locker room when Papuchis and Beck told the team that Pelini was heading to the hospital.

"We did it for him out there, we did it for each other," Compton said.

The Huskers were in bounce-back mode after surrendering 653 yards in a 36-30 loss at UCLA last week. It was the second-most Nebraska had ever allowed an opponent.

Nebraska mixed three-man and four-man defensive fronts against a Red Wolves team (1-2) 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 gainers but couldn't get into the end zone. The Huskers held them to two field goals and 286 yards, 89 in the second half.

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