UW coach Steve Sarkisian explains he left Price in the game because "he was a battler and I think there's something to be said for that."

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LINCOLN, Neb. — Keith Price insisted later it looked a little worse than he felt.

“Just minor,” he said of an injury to his left knee he suffered in the third quarter of the 51-38 defeat against Nebraska. “So I will be back 100 percent next week.”

He looked about half that as the game ended Saturday, noticeably limping in the final minutes. He had entered the game with a sore right knee, injured in the season opener against Eastern Washington. He hurt his left knee Saturday on a play where he evaded a rush and pitched the ball to receiver Devin Aguilar.

“I’m not sure what happened,” Price said. “I think somebody came down on it and it just hurt it and after that I was like ‘Oh man.’ “

Price, though, remained in the game, Washington coach Steve Sarkisian explaining later that “he wanted to stay in, he was a battler and I think there’s something to be said for that.”

Indeed, Price kept flinging it until the end, throwing two touchdown passes in a span of less than three minutes midway through the fourth quarter to give UW a last glimmer of hope after Nebraska had busted out to a 44-17 lead.

“You’ve just got to keep fighting no matter what injuries you have,” Price said. “Just got to be a warrior for your team.”

Price tied his career high, set last week, with four touchdown passes and now has 11 for the season.

But he also rued an interception at the Nebraska 13-yard line late in the first quarter when he underthrew Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

“Bad play by me,” he said. “I’ve just got to use my receiver and use Austin better and throw him a higher ball, the ball was too low. I made the right read, but just have to throw it up high and let him go get it.”

Huskers go low for Polk

Washington running back Chris Polk was the offensive star of UW’s 19-7 victory over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl last December, so it was no secret the Cornhuskers would try to contain him in this game.

And Polk said Nebraska had a decidedly different strategy.

“They went more for my kneecaps or went more for my ankles,” he said. “The majority of the tackles they came low, plus they really held onto my legs. But that’s just football I guess.”

Polk still managed 130 yards on 22 carries. Sarkisian, though, thought the overall running game could have been better.

“I thought we found a little something in there to get it going but I would have liked, obviously, to have been even better to balance out what we were doing,” he said.

Nebraska fired up

After the Holiday Bowl defeat, there was little doubt the Cornhuskers would be ready for this game. Cornhuskers coach Bo Pelini thought that was particularly the case during the third-quarter onslaught that tilted the game Nebraska’s way.

“We came out, we wanted to make a statement,” he said. “We talked about it in the locker room, to come out and impose our will on those guys to start the second half. I thought our defense responded well, with getting a three-and-out, and then our offense took the ball right down there and scored. That was a big way to start the second half.”

Pelini blamed himself for the game getting close at the end.

“I didn’t call a great game in the fourth quarter,” he said. “I thought they were going to come out and start throwing the football, so I kind of turned our D-line loose a little bit and was saying ‘OK, go ahead, run the ball.’ If we would’ve just tackled better I thought we could just use some clock. I didn’t really care about points at that point.”

Notes

• With Nate Fellner out with a hamstring injury, Justin Glenn got his first start at safety since the 2009 Notre Dame game and had a career-high 15 tackles.

• UW was called for a third kick catching interference penalty when Jermaine Kearse tried to bat away an onside kick attempt in the fourth quarter. The rule is that the returner has to have a chance to catch it. UW also tried an onside kick a few minutes later but didn’t recover it. Sarkisian said he struggled with both calls: “We had kicked it deep on the previous one and they went down the field and we thought with their alignment on the first one that we had a chance so we went with it for the popover to Jermaine and it was a bang-bang play. Hindsight is 20-20 — you tell Jermaine to wait to see if the guy catches it or not. If he drops it like he did, Jermaine is right there.”

bcondotta@seattletimes.com