For The Record

Roy Helu, Jr. comes up big against Missouri Nebraska took a timeout with 2:17 remaining and the outcome decided. The timeout allowed Cornhusker running back Roy Helu, Jr. to catch his breath before carrying one more time, on fourth-down-and-1 at the Missouri 31-yard line. He gained 3 yards then ran to the sideline as fans chanted his name. Helu was oblivious to the chants. “I wish I’d heard it, though; that would’ve been cool,” he told reporters following the 31-17 victory against the No. 7-ranked Tigers. Near the end of his post-game interview, Helu asked a question of reporters: “So when they chanted the ‘Roy’ thing, how do you chant ‘Roy,’ because my name’s only three letters?” The chants were of his last name, not his first, he was told, two syllables. “Oh, OK,” Helu said to laughter. He had another question. “They said, ‘HAY-lu’?’ My name’s ‘HEL-ooo,’” said Helu. “It’s OK, but you can call me ‘HAY-lu.’ It’s Roy ‘HEL-ooo,’ Jr.” You also can call him the best single-game rusher in Cornhusker football history, after he carried 28 times for 307 yards and three touchdowns against Missouri. Helu broke the school record, 294 rushing yards, set by Calvin Jones against Kansas in 1991. And he did it in dramatic fashion, with touchdown runs of 66, 73 and 53 yards. The 66-yarder set the tone, coming on Nebraska’s first play from scrimmage. The 73-yarder came late in the first quarter, as the Huskers took a 24-0 lead. And the 53-yarder came on Helu’s tenth carry, in the third quarter. At that point, his rushing total was 228 yards. Helu ran past the top five on Nebraska’s all-time single-game rushing list on the final series, with Missouri still holding out hope. The series began at the Husker 8-yard line, with 8:40 left. On his first carry, Helu gained 6 yards to pass Isaiah Hipp (254), Rick Berns (255) and Ken Clark (256). And on his sixth carry, he gained 15 yards to pass Jones and Mike Rozier (285). Before the timeout with 2:17 remaining, Nebraska had run 10 plays during the drive, with Helu carrying on nine. After Helu left the game to chants of his name, quarterback Zac Lee, who had replaced an injured Taylor Martinez at the start of the third quarter, downed the ball three times. The final series consumed all 8 minutes and 40 seconds. “That was really the offensive line grinding on their defensive line,” Helu said. He was quick to share the credit for his record-breaking performance. “I couldn’t explain how much I feel for my linemen and fullback, Tyler Legate,” said Helu. “They deserve as much credit as I do, just down the line, even with our guys who rotate with the offensive line. “I know easily we could focus on the record and the individual, but it’s a team sport.” Coach Bo Pelini echoed the team part, while acknowledging Helu’s accomplishment. “Obviously, I just said to the team, you break a school record for single-game rushing at this place, with all the tradition around here, it’s a pretty big deal,” Pelini said. Helu didn’t know he had broken the record until hearing the Memorial Stadium public address announcer’s congratulations. By then, he was on the sideline, among teammates. “It was weird,” he said. “They were acting like we won the Super Bowl or something. I got squirted on the back with water … a lot of really kind things that teammates said, just a lot of congratulations.” He went into the game with 500 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Now, he needs only 34 rushing yards to reach 3,000 for his career. Just five Huskers have ever rushed for 3,000 yards: Rozier (4,780), Ahman Green (3,880), Eric Crouch (3,334), Jones (3,153) and Clark (3,037). You can do the math. Barring injury, with four regular-season games, a bowl game and a potential return to the Big 12 Championship game (greatly enhanced by the Missouri victory) remaining, Helu reasonably could surpass all but Rozier and Green on that list. Even if he doesn’t get to No. 3 on the all-time list, however, he’s earned a place among the great Nebraska running backs. As such he deserves to have his name pronounced correctly. It’s “HEL-ooo.” And while you’re at it, don’t forget the “Jr.”

posted at 01:56 pm
on Wednesday, November 03rd, 2010

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