June 14, 2024

Husker fans get glimpse of Raiola-Nelson connection in Polynesian Bowl


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The two new Huskers connected a couple times during the all-star game on Friday night.

The incoming Huskers showcased their connection a couple times and a Dylan Raiola touchdown pass sparked his team to a comeback Friday in Hawaii.

Raiola and Carter Nelson’s Team Makai rallied from a 17-0 halftime deficit to claim a 28-17 win over Team Mauka in the Polynesian Bowl.

Starting at QB for Team Makai, Raiola finished 7-of-15 for 111 yards, with one touchdown and one interception, according to the broadcast stats. The pick happened on what appeared to be a miscommunication with the receiver.

But Team Makai, which had five turnovers in the first half, took the reins the second half. A Raiola 40-yard touchdown pass to fellow five-star recruit Mike Matthews, a Tennessee signee, got the ball rolling.

The early enrollee Husker ripped the throw in stride to Matthews who scooted about 25 yards after the catch into the end zone.

Raiola also showed his touch when finding his Husker teammate Nelson on arguably his best throw of the day.

Nelson, the Ainsworth native who will arrive to campus after the spring semester, had a strong performance which included a 32-yard catch across the middle on that well placed ball from Raiola. The two would link up again for an 11-yard completion inside the 5 on a run-pass option play, with Raiola flicking a throw while moving to his left.

The versatile tight end Nelson, who Matt Rhule and staff see as a ‘positionless’ weapon, would also catch a 23-yarder across the middle from QB Ty McCutcheon.

Perhaps Nelson’s most impressive play came on a turnover by his own team. After an interception, he tracked back about 60 yards to make a touchdown-saving tackle.

On the other squad, Husker signee Preston Taumua started at left guard for Team Mauka. While he did pick up one penalty, he seemed stout in his role and finished off an impressive comeback season after a knee injury just 11 months ago.

Taumua and Nelson will both arrive to Nebraska in a few months, while Raiola will get it going for real in Lincoln next week.

The spotlight will be bright, but at this point Raiola is accustomed to that.

As Greg Biggins of 247Sports wrote this week, “No one has been more in demand this week than Raiola from a media standpoint and we heard he signed over 1,500 autographs on Monday. He threw a couple of balls left handed today and the joke was his throwing hand was probably sore from all the signatures.”

It wasn’t too sore to find his new teammate a couple times.

It was a carryover connection from what our 247Sports crew reported was happening earlier in the week at Polynesian Bowl practices.

Husker fans get glimpse of Raiola-Nelson connection in Polynesian Bowl

As was written a few days ago before the scoreboard was turned on, “Nelson was a favorite target of future Huskers teammate Dylan Raiola throughout the afternoon session and it was easy to see why — the impressive pass catcher got open often and was a very reliable target.”

That’s a nice thing for Husker fans to read. Even better to see a glimpse of with their own eyes.

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