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Kicker Barret Pickering Leaves Nebraska Football
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Barret Pickering Nebraska’s ‘Unsung Hero’ in Win over Michigan State

November 17, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. — On a day when Barret Pickering scored all of Nebraska’s points in the 9-6 win over Michigan State, the freshman kicker was quick to divert too much attention away from himself.

“I’d like to mention the Sadlers and the Foltzes,” Pickering said at the post-game press conference. “Today was about them, this was a game for them and definitely I’d like to [dedicate] my performance to Mike and Sam out there.

“It means a lot that I go out there and represent them well.”

Nebraska and Michigan State honored the memory Nebraska punter Sam Foltz and Michigan State punter Mike Sadler prior to Saturday’s matchup. The two were involved in a one-car accident in Wisconsin on July 23, 2016 that killed both of them.

As Nebraska and Michigan State traded field goals on a snowy day at Memorial Stadium, many took note of the fact that the only points belonged to the kickers.

Saturday’s matchup is also believed to be Nebraska’s first victory without scoring a touchdown since Nov. 27, 1937. Nebraska won that one on the road at Kansas State, 3-0.

Michigan State led 6-0 with 12:13 left in the fourth quarter. That’s when Nebraska — and Pickering — started to answer.

Pickering’s first field goal came at 11:07 left in the game. It was a 36-yarder that cut Michigan State’s lead in half. Exactly three minutes later, Pickering knocked another field goal — this time a 20-yarder — through the uprights. That’s when the Huskers felt they really could win the game.

“I think after Barret hit his second field goal and tied it up, I think the attitude was a little more eager,” senior running back Devine Ozigbo said. “We were like ‘All right, we get the ball, we get up, we got this game in the bag.’ Our defense was playing well, let’s get out there and get some points.”

With the game tied and Nebraska’s defense doing all it could to prevent Michigan State from scoring, Pickering gave Nebraska the lead with a 47-yard field goal with 5:13 to go in the game.

“I was going to carry him all the way to the sideline, and he’s like, ‘Jerald, Jerald,’ and I hear him on my shoulder and he’s like, ‘I got to kick the kickoff,’” senior offensive lineman Jerald Foster said. “I dropped him and said, ‘Go do your thing.’”

husker football offense celebrate by lifting Qb Adrian Martinez into the air after touchdown

Ryan Loco
Nebraska kicker Barret Pickering is lifted into the air by offensive lineman Jerald Foster.

Pickering did just that when it was needed most. And he did it in the snow, which was a first for the kicker from Hoover, Alabama. He also did it through intense wind and bitter cold.

Coach Scott Frost called Pickering one of the “unsung heroes” post-game, crediting both him and punter Isaac Armstrong for their improvements throughout the season.

“Barret hitting the two field goals, I had enough confidence in him at that point to let him go out and try a long one, and he buried it. It turned out to be the difference,” Frost said. “So, you could pick about a dozen guys on our team that have gotten just infinitely better as the year has gone along, and those guys are kind of representative of our whole team.”

As his teammates celebrated the win on the field (snow angels included), Pickering found Armstrong and junior punter Caleb Lightbourn. They embraced for a moment before Pickering continued running into the tunnel, away from the chaos.

He’s not one for much attention, even on a day he deserves it all.

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