Nebraska’s offense was clicking on most cylinders against Georgia Southern.

But the Huskers defense needs to improve considerably if the team is to have any chance to compete in the Big Ten West.

In a back-and-forth game, Nebraska surrendered the final touchdown to lose 45-42.

The Huskers had scored on a 1-yard keeper by quarterback Casey Thompson with 3:05 remaining to go up 42-38. But the defense failed again.

And then a last-second 52-yard field goal attempt missed, and beleaguered head coach Scott Frost had another 1-score loss on his docket.

Nebraska’s defense gave up more than 600 total yards and 6 touchdowns to Georgia Southern, agonizing the home fans Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.

The defense allowed Georgia Southern to march into the red zone on its final drive. The Eagles had a 1st-and-goal at the 8. The Eagles cashed in on a QB keeper by Kyle Vantrease.

Huskers sophomore defensive back Marques Buford Jr. recorded his second interception of the game, with a pick of Eagles quarterback Kyle Vantrease with 9:30 to go in regulation.

Nebraska quarterback Casey Thompson produced 4 touchdowns, including 3 on the ground, and running back Anthony Grant added another rushing TD among his 27 rushes for 138 yards. It was his third straight 100-yard game.

Thompson completed 20 of his first 29 passes for 275 yards, including a 21-yard strike to Brody Belt for a touchdown.

Nebraska’s allowed 364 yards and 4 touchdowns in the first half, its defense getting shredded.

Grant rushed 4 yards for the TD that put Nebraska ahead for the first time, at 21-14, with 8:25 left in the first half.

Grant, a transfer from New Mexico Military Institute/Florida State, was fresh off an impressive performance in Nebraska’s win against North Dakota. Grant carried the ball 23 times for 189 yards and 2 scores in that one.

The Eagles, a Sun Belt Conference opponent, answered with a TD less than 2 minutes later to tie the score.

Georgia Southern running back Gerald Green rushed for back-to-back touchdowns, including a 47-yard score that gave the Eagles a 28-21 edge with 4 minutes to go in the half.

Thompson collected his second rushing touchdown of the game, a 2-yarder with 1:50 to go in the half, to even the score at 28.

Nebraska got a break when Georgia Southern was penalized for an illegal snap. The automatic 10-second runoff ended the half with the teams tied at 28.

An individual highlight for Nebraska included the first career touchdown for walk-on wide receiver Belt. Belt, a junior, hauled in the 21-yard TD pass in the first quarter.

Nebraska hosts No. 7 Oklahoma at Memorial Stadium next Saturday.