Nebraska Surrenders 14-point Lead
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska Surrenders 14-point Lead, Loses in Overtime at Northwestern

October 13, 2018

So close, and yet so far.

Nebraska snatched defeat from the jaws of victory on Saturday to fall to 0-6 on the season and 0-4 in Big Ten play with a 34-31 loss to Northwestern in overtime.

Leading 31-24 with 2:02 to play, Isaac Armstrong pinned the Wildcats at their own 1-yard line. What followed was an eight-play, 99-yard touchdown drive that tied the game with 12 seconds to play.

Northwestern won the coin toss and chose to start on defense and a bad snap on fourth-and-1 for the Huskers led to an interception by Adrian Martinez on a prayer to the end zone. Three plays later, Northwestern kicked a 37-yard field goal to seal the victory.

Nebraska scored on its opening drive in front of a Northwestern crowd that was largely red. They covered 75 yards in four minutes thanks to a 33 yard run from back Devine Ozigbo and a 42-yard pass from Martinez to wideout JD Spielman.

For Ozigbo at least, it set the table for a dominant day. The senior back rumbled for 159 yards and two scores on 22 carries (7.2 yards per carry). He went for at least 10 yards six times; he went for at least 20 yards thrice. And his success on the ground opened things up for Martinez through the air. The freshman quarterback went 25-for-35 for 251 yards, a score and two picks.

Nebraska trailed at half 14-13 in part because freshman kicker Barret Pickering pushed a 45-yard field goal wide right then missed the game-tying extra point on Nebraska's second touchdown.

The Huskers outgained the Wildcats by 100 yards yet, like so many times this season, were behind on the scoreboard after 30 minutes.

Then Antonio Reed climbed the ladder for just the third Nebraska interception of the season. 

Then Nebraska went 97 yards on 15 plays in 5:43, converted two third downs (including a third-and-9 pickup on the legs of Martinez) and took a 20-14 lead.


For good measure, the Huskers took a missed field goal from Northwestern at the end of the third quarter, drove it for six the other direction — on the first career rushing touchdown for running back Maurice Washington no less — and converted a two-point conversion to stretch their lead to 14.

Northwestern's passing attack got hot in the fourth quarter, spearheaded by a career day from wideout Flynn Nagel (12 catches, 220 yards and two scores). Northwestern used a a 61-yard catch and run for a touchdown by Nagel to cut its deficit in half early in the fourth quarter. A three-and-out by the Huskers gave Northwestern a chance to erase its deficit, but graduate transfer Tre Neal made a play to prevent that from happening.

The UCF transfer grabbed a bobbled Northwestern pass and returned it inside Northwestern territory. A few plays later, Martinez went under center for a third-and-1 play only to fumble the snap. Washington was there to scoop it and pick up the first down. Nebraska only managed 3 more yards after that, however, and the Huskers had to settle for a 34-yard field goal that Pickering converted to push to lead to 10.

That proved to be Nebraska’s final score of the day. A 15-play, 62-yard touchdown that included two fourth-and-10 conversions by the Wildcats ended in a 31-yard field goal to make it 31-24 with 3:14 to play.

Pat Fitzgerald opted for an onside kick which senior linebacker Luke Gifford recovered, but three runs netted 3 yards for the Huskers, setting up Isaac Armstrong’s punt down to the 1.

Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson was 41-of-64 for 455 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Nebraska’s search for its first win of the season will extend into next week when the Huskers will host Minnesota for a 2:30 p.m. game.

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