Nov. 2, 2013
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Battling a tough Nebraska team, 91,000 Huskers fans and a bevy of injuries on the day, Northwestern held a 24-21 lead until the final play Saturday when a 49-yard Hail Mary was tipped and caught in the end zone to give the Huskers a 27-24 victory.
Nebraska's answered Hail Mary to win the game Saturday marked the first time Northwestern lost a game on the final play of regulation since Syracuse kicked a last-second field goal to earn a 37-34 win on Sept. 21, 2009. Before that, the Wildcats had not been beaten on the game's final play since their 1995 Rose Bowl season, when Miami (Ohio) kicked a 20-yard field goal to end the game on Sept. 16, 1995.
Junior running back Treyvon Green recorded his third 100-yard game of the season and set a career high with three touchdowns, making him the first Wildcat with three rushing TD's in a game since Kain Colter vs. Iowa last season. He finished with a game-high 149 yards on 19 carries.
Nebraska got off to a quick start offensively with an 8-play drive that was spearheaded by the dual-threat ability of quarterback Tommy Armstrong, who finished the series by gaining a total of 19 yards on back-to-back runs, the last a 5-yard touchdown rush.
It was then Colter's turn to show off his running and throwing abilities, which he would do on Northwestern's first drive to the tune of four rushes for 45 yards and 2-of-3 passing. The highlight of the series was a key 3rd-and-6 pickup by Colter near midfield as he made upwards of six would-be Huskers tacklers miss en route to a 9-yard gain. After another 17-yard Colter rush, Green moved the pile into the end zone to level the score at seven.
The Wildcats `D' forced a three-and-out to return the ball to the Northwestern offense, and the 'Cats worked quickly to set up their second score. On first down, Colter hit Stephen Buckley for a strong 17-yard gain, but Buckley -- who was coming off a 99-yard rushing performance at Iowa last week -- suffered a left knee injury on the play and was carted off the field, ending his afternoon. Three plays later, however, Green broke free up the middle for 39 yards to the 6-yard line. Green also covered those remaining six yards to give NU its first lead of the afternoon.
In the second quarter, Nebraska advanced to the Northwestern 28-yard line before a Damien Proby tackle for loss on third down pushed the Huskers back to the 31, where Pat Smith attempted a 48-yard field goal that missed off the right upright. On Nebraska's next offensive series, the Wildcats linebackers made their presence known again, with Chi Chi Ariguzo picking off Ron Kellogg for Ariguzo's fourth interception of the year and his sixth of his career.
As has been their strength this year, the Wildcats quickly turned the turnover into points, as Trevor Siemian entered the game and on his first passing attempt hit Dan Vitale for 28 yards down to the Nebraska 10. Green then did the rest on the next play, reaching the end zone with a 10-yard dash for his career-high third touchdown.
Nebraska came back with a touchdown pass by Armstrong to Quincy Enunwa with 6:37 remaining in the first half, and both teams were kept off the scoreboard over the final six drives before intermission.
After both teams traded four punts to begin the second half, Nebraska came up with a momentum-changing play when defensive end Avery Moss leapt to intercept a Trevor Siemian pass and return it 25 yards for a game-tying touchdown.
Later in the period, redshirt freshman cornerback Dwight White, who was called on to replace the injured Nick VanHoose in the second quarter, came up with his first career interception to halt a Nebraska drive. But Northwestern was kept off the scoreboard as the Huskers went on the march offensively as the third quarter ended.
But that drive too would be interrupted by a Northwestern interception when safety Jimmy Hall got his hands to an Armstrong pass and allowed LB Collin Ellis to snare it, Ellis' third pick of the year and first since the season-opener at Cal.
With defenses still ruling the day late in the fourth quarter, Tyler Scott dropped back into coverage and made NU's fourth interception of the game, returning it all the way to the Nebraska 7-yard line. Four plays later, Jeff Budzien drilled a 21-yard field goal to put the Wildcats on top, 24-21.
Nebraska then was able to get the ball to midfield with four seconds left before its prayer was answered.
Defensively, Hall recorded a career high six tackles (five solo) in the first half alone. Proby and Ibraheim Campbell each had 10 total stops to lead the Wildcats.
Redshirt freshman Ifeadi Odenigbo notched his fourth sack of the season in the second quarter, one sack behind Scott for the team lead this season. NU totaled four interceptions to bring its Big Ten-leading total on the season to 18.
Northwestern now has two weeks to prepare for its next outing, a Nov. 16 matchup at Ryan Field against the University of Michigan. Kickoff time and television coverage for the game will be announced on Monday (Nov. 4) by the Big Ten Conference. A limited number of tickets remain available; fans should contact the Northwestern Athletics ticket office at 888-GO-PURPLE for information on how to secure their seat at Ryan Field.
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