LINCOLN, Neb. — Senior quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr.’s status was up in the air all week as he went through concussion protocol after getting knocked out of the game at Ohio State last week. He started against Minnesota, but had to leave the game again to get re-taped after hurting his ankle in the first half. Yet with the game on the line and needing a score, it was Armstrong the Huskers turned to.
With 47 percent of more than 650 votes, Tommy Armstrong Jr’s go-ahead rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter is your play of the game.
Following a tough 3-yard run on fourth-and-1 by senior running back Terrell Newby, the Huskers had the ball at the 13-yard line. They lined up with split running backs Mikale Wilbon and Tre Bryant – usually a passing formation – but Wilbon motioned into the left flat and Armstrong ran a zone read with the freshman Bryant. The right defensive end, Henrick Ekpe, came off unblocked but went at Bryant, so Armstrong kept the ball and took off.
The strong side linebacker got sucked in on the fake hand-off as well and tight end Cethan Carter blocked the strong side safety, leaving the weak side safety, Damarius Travis, as the only free defender in the area. However, Armstrong turned on the jets despite his bad wheel and ran past Travis for the touchdown.
A week after getting knocked out while running the ball, Armstrong carried the ball nine times for 61 yards. After the game, Armstrong said he told the coaches that he wasn’t afraid to run “everything” in the playbook.
“They asked me before, was I able to run, was I able to, you know, scramble out and throw the ball if I needed to, and I told them, ‘yeah,’” Armstrong said. “It was just something that I just have to suck up and say, ‘hey, I’ll be okay.’ At the end of the day, I only have one quarter left to get out there and work my tail off to get the ball in their hands. So I just told them to just open up the playbook. If we needed to run quarterback runs, I was there to run. If we needed to throw the ball and have some scrambles with myself outside the pocket, I could do that too.”
Unfortunately, just as Armstrong crossed the goal line, he felt a pain in his leg and grabbed at his left hamstring. Armstrong popped up off the ground, hopping on his right leg as he grabbed his left thigh with one hand and tossed the ball to the referee with the other. Teammates rushed over to help their quarterback off the field, and then his guards, Jerald Foster and Tanner Farmer, lifted him up and carried him to the sideline.
“Honestly, I told them ‘put me down’ at first,” Armstrong said. “I just wanted to sit down. They were like ‘No, we got you. Come here.’ So they just picked me up and I was like ‘All right, whatever.’”
The touchdown proved to be the game-winner as Aaron Williams tipped a pass by Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner and Kieron Williams intercepted it to put an end to the Gophers’ comeback attempt.
“Tommy is the toughest dude I’ve ever been around,” Kieron Williams said. “He’s going to have any type of injury and he’s gonna come back. Like a lot of quarterbacks, what happened to him last week, [they] would not have been playing this week. That dude is definitely a warrior. People can say what they want to say about him, but I wouldn’t rather go to war with any [other] dude in college football.”
Tommy Armstrong Jr. battled back from multiple injuries to score the game-winning touchdown in a game the Huskers had to have. Getting seven instead of three put some serious pressure back on the Minnesota offense and the Blackshirts took advantage to force their first and only turnover of the game. The touchdown was also the 90th of Armstrong’ career, tying him with Eric Crouch for the most in school history. That’s why Tommy Armstrong Jr.’s rushing touchdown midway through the fourth quarter 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.