The real turning point of this game was the running into the kicker penalty in the second quarter that extended an Iowa drive that sparked a 49-0 run by Iowa. However, there will be plenty of other stories written about the many negative aspects of this 56-14 loss.
I’m going to use this space to celebrate a record-setting performance. That’s why Stanley Morgan Jr.’s 28-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter is this week’s Play of the Game.
Morgan entered Friday’s game just 31 yards shy of surpassing Johnny Rodgers’ single-season school record of 942 yards. His first reception of the game went for 14 yards and a touchdown, and he snagged it with one hand.
His second was an impressive 13-yard gain where he caught the ball and drove a pile of Hawkeyes forward for an extra couple of yards. Later on that same drive, Nebraska faced a third-and-10 from the 28-yard line.
Morgan lined up out wide. Iowa looked to be in some kind of zone coverage and Morgan angled inside past the corner then angled back outside. The corner appeared to pass him on to another defender, but the nearest safety was about 10 yards away from him.
Tanner Lee hit Morgan at the 2-yard line and the junior walked into the end zone for his second score of the game and a new school record.
57 catches. 967 yards. 10 touchdowns. (so far)
— Derek Peterson (@DrPeteyHV) November 24, 2017
The touchdown put the Huskers up 14-7.
Morgan finished the day with seven catches for 74 yards and two scores, with the record-setting catch standing as Nebraska’s longest play form scrimmage.
“He’s as good as it gets,” Lee said. “Stanley and I being from the same area, we kind of had a bond before I got here. For him to play so well and stay healthy all year and be so effective and dominant, it’s just a testament to the way he comes to work. No one comes to practice and practices harder than Stanley. No one’s more emotional and no one’s louder or more energetic than him day in and day out. He’s such a key part of our team in a million different ways. I think him breaking that record is just a testament to that work, so it’s really no surprise. He definitely 100-percent earned that record.”
Morgan caught 61 passes this season for 986 yards and 10 touchdowns. He should finish the season first in receiving yards per game in the Big Ten at 89.6.
“Stan’s one of those bright spots,” senior fullback Luke McNitt said. “You could argue he’s the greatest receiver to ever come through here. His stats prove that. That kid comes to work every day. He used to say he looked up to me the way I worked, but by the end of this season I was looking up to him, the way he prepares every day and the way he just comes to work. There are not a lot of defensive backs in this league or in the nation that can't cover him one-on-one. You’re going to have a tough time going up against him. I think he’s got a bright future here and he’s going to play a lot of football after that.”
Along with Morgan’s record, senior tight end Tyler Hoppes broke Mike McNeill’s single-season receptions record of 32. The walk-on transfer from Wayne State caught four passes for 37 yards on Saturday, giving him 34 catches for 387 yards.
On a day with very few positives, Stanley Morgan Jr.’s record-setting day stands out as something for fans to grab onto. That’s why Stanley Morgan Jr.’s 28-yard touchdown catch is this week’s Play of the Game.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.