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Nebraska vs. Minnesota Recap: Huskers Grind out 24 to 17 Win

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Our quarterback can beat up your quarterback. Despite even more injuries, Tommy Armstrong leads the Huskers to a close win against a stout Golden Gopher team.

Minnesota v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

The big pre-game news is that Tommy Armstrong is suited up and will start unless something happens during warm-ups.

In other injury news, left guard Jerald Foster will make his first career start after injuring his knee in preseason camp.

Minnesota followed the lead of previous Husker opponents this season and offered a tribute to Sam Foltz, a #27 Gopher jersey.

First Quarter

Minnesota won the toss and elected to receive the kickoff. Drew Brown’s kick went into the end zone for a touchback. Gopher football first and 10 on the Minnesota 25 yard line.

Mitch Leidner came out firing and completed a pass for six yards. The next run play was stuffed for a one yard loss and on third and five, Leidner found Wolitarsky on a swing pass that converted the first down. The Gophers got to midfield on another completed pass - what happened to this Gopher rush attack we were told about?

The second down YOLO bomb was too long and fell incomplete into the end zone. On third and two at midfield, the run play was stuffed short and the Gophers brought out the punt team....except an illegal formation (12 men) call on the Blackshirts gave the Gophers a first down.

The next series of plays included a a tackle for loss on Leidner by Freedom Akinmoladun to force third and medium. The pass was incomplete but several flags again bailed out the Gophers (Aaron Williams pass interference).

The Gophers drove into the red zone and continued to sling the ball around to reach first and goal at the ten yard line. They found paydirt on third and goal with a Rodney Smith rushing touchdown. The kick was good.

Minnesota 7 Nebraska 0

The Gophers used almost exactly half of the first quarter on their opening drive.

The Minnesota kickoff went out of bounds (something they have been prone to do this year) and the Huskers, led by Tommy Armstrong, got the ball at the Nebraska 35. The Husker offense took two plays to register their initial first down of the game just past midfield but the Gophers stuffed Pierson-El for no gain. After that, Terrell Newby took advantage of the rejuvenated left side of the offensive line for a nice gain.

The third down play was a keeper by Tommy to convert the first down at the Minnesota 16 yard line. Unfortunately, DPE was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct to back up the Huskers fifteen yards. Tommy was dropped for a two yard loss. Cethan Carter caught a pass for a short gain, but Nebraska faced third and eight (Carter limped off the field). Tommy found DPE but De’Morney had no chance as three Gophers were there to bring him down short of the sticks.

The 46 yard Drew Brown field goal was right down the middle.

Minnesota 7 Nebraska 3

The kickoff went into the end zone for a touchback. Gopher ball first and 10 at the 25 yard line.

The Blackshirts forced a three and out (Dzuris tackle on third down). One Gopher offensive lineman was injured but it was not serious. The Gophers false started on the punt. DPE signaled fair catch at the 35 yard line.

Tommy Armstrong kept the ball on first down and gained over 20 yards (aided by a nice block by Terrell Newby). End of first quarter.

Second Quarter

Tommy’s keeper netted three followed by an incomplete pass that should have been picked by the Gopher defensive back (Myrick). That was followed by a complete pass to Morgan who was brought down two yards short of the sticks. On fourth and two at the Gopher 40-ish, Coach Riley elected to go for it and the swing pass to Trey Bryant went ALL THE WAY (thanks to a rub route by Alonzo Moore) for a Husker touchdown. The Drew Brown kick was good.

Nebraska 10 Minnesota 7

Drew Brown kicked it short and the returner was brought down at the 22. A holding call on the Gophers backed them up to the 12 yard line. The Blackshirts held firm for two downs but allowed a long pass play to get the Gophers out to the 40 yard line. The Husker defense erected a wall and nearly intercepted two passes in a row (first to Jones and then Gerry, whose tip was especially pick-able) to force the punt.

DPE was buried at the Husker 12 yard line and the Huskers took over first and 10.

The Gopher defensive line brought a lot of pressure on the first two downs which probably led to the false start on third and seven (resulting in third and 12). The Husker offense went three-and-out with some ugly balls (off the back foot of course) thrown by Tommy.

Lightbourn’s punt was short and Minnesota took over just barely on their side of the field at the 46. The punt hit a Gopher as it bounced but their special teams alertly jumped on the ball and avoided the turnover.

The Gophers came out firing again (I was wondering what the Minnesota coaching staff saw in film to depend on the passing game) and a slightly underthrown ball was nearly picked (again) by Chris Jones. After a stuffed run play, third down found Wolitarsky again bailing out his QB for the first down past midfield. The next play saw missed tackles allow Rodney Smith to get inside the five yard line. First and goal for the Gophers.

The Husker defensive line (especially Ross Dzuris) held the Gopher rushers (Smith and Leidner) and on fourth and goal (from the one foot line), Tracy Claeys elected to take a timeout. He chose to go for it. The Leidner sneak was very close and one official ran in as though it were short but the other signaled touchdown. The Gopher kick was good.

Minnesota 14 Nebraska 10

There was just under five minutes left in the half when Minnesota kicked off. The touchback gave the ball to the Huskers at the 25.

On the first plays of the Husker series, the Gophers again used the tactic of pressuring Tommy. On third down, we had a Westerkamp sighting for a first down at the 37. It went for naught as the Husker drive stalled before midfield and Nebraska punted.

Lightbourn’s punt went straight up and bounced backward to net -2 yards. ARGGGHHHH!

Leidner immediately threw a 50/50 ball that was contested by Chris Jones (incomplete). It was followed by a decent run and complete pass for a first down. With time running out, Minnesota continued to sling the pigskin around in an attempt to get into field goal range before the half.

With one second left the 42 yard field goal by Minnesota was good as they took advantage of the terrible Husker punt.

Minnesota 17 Nebraska 10

Halftime

Senior receiver Jordan Westerkamp’s first reception of the night marked his 150th career reception, making him the third Nebraska player with 150 career receptions, joining Kenny Bell (181) and Nate Swift (166).

Junior kicker Drew Brown connected on a 46-yard field in the first quarter and added an extra point in the first half, giving him 270 career points, tying him with Ahman Green for seventh place on the NU career scoring list.

Nebraska trails at the half for its fourth consecutive home game. The Huskers won the previous three games against Oregon, Illinois and Purdue.

Third Quarter

The Huskers received the second half kickoff and took over at the 20 yard line. After a no gain and false start penalty (DPE), Tommy found Westerkamp for a 14 yard gain (on second and 15). Terrell Newby juuuuust converted the first down at the 31 yard line.

The next first down came courtesy of a Cethan Carter reception followed by a Terrell Newby run for 12 yards to cross midfield. The next first down was, say it with me, Jordan Westerkamp on a slant (31 yard line). The screen to Newby on the next play was beautifully executed and went ALL THE WAY. Touchdown Nebraska. Drew Brown’s kick tied the game. Nebraska used six minutes of the third quarter on their opening drive.

Nebraska 17 Minnesota 17

The Blackshirts came close to forcing a three-and-out on an especially great diagnosis and tackle on second down by Josh Banderas. On the next play however, Leidner completed a ball to (who else) Wolitarsky into an incredibly tight window for a first down.

It was for naught as the Blackshirts forced the Gopher offense to punt after three more plays. Pierson-El returned the ball for a short gain to the 17. Tommy’s rollout pass was complete (sorry my stream cut out and I didn’t see who caught it). It was followed by a jet sweep to Pierson-El that went for (gasp) positive yards (9 to be exact). Tommy took a shot on second and one but it was broken up, leading to third and one. That play was converted on a TA2 sneak. Tommy stayed down after the play and was attended to by trainers for a left leg (ankle) injury. He was in a lot of pain and was helped off the field by the trainers. By the time he reached the sideline, he was putting more weight on the ankle, but still limping.

Ryker Fyfe entered the game with just under four minutes to play in the third quarter. A pass that was originally ruled complete to Jordan Westerkamp was reversed after review, bringing up third and 11 at the 40 yard line. Unfortunately, Ryker was sacked (Blake Cashman) and the Huskers punted. Minnesota fair caught the ball at the 24 yard line.

The Gophers converted one first down and then Mitch Leidner scrambled for another despite appearing to be dead-to-rights. The third quarter ended with a tie game.

Fourth Quarter

Tommy is expected to return on the next offensive series (good news).

Mitch Leidner completed a throw for nine yards but the subsequent rush play was dropped for a loss to bring up third and two. Another tackle for loss (Kevin Maurice) forced the Gophers to punt. DPE fair caught the ball at the Nebraska nine yard line.

After a decent first down run by Newby, Tommy found DPE who spun opposite of the way the defender was expecting and was brought down 29 yards later. He was called upon for the jet sweep on the next play and gained two. Newby then drug defenders out to near-midfield for a first down. Foster was flagged for holding (really?) on the next play giving the Huskers a first and 20 at the 40. De’Mornay Pierson-El gained back 10. After a couple of futile plays, Alonzo Moore grabbed a pass for a first down at the 35.

That was followed by a Westerkamp reception for 10 for another first down at the 25 yard line. The Newby run gained nine. Tommy wanted to take a shot on second and one, but no one was open and threw it away. The pass was batted down at the line, bringing up fourth and one. The offense stayed on the field and Newby converted the first down. RIVERBOAT RILEY STRIKES AGAIN!

Minnesota called a timeout with Nebraska having the ball at the MInnesota 14 , first and 10. The very next play was a Tommy Armstrong run for a (good news) TOUCHDOWN. Bad news, Tommy was carried to the bench by his offensive linemen after appearing to re-injure his left leg (hamstring). The Drew Brown kick was good. The 91 yard Husker drive was the longest against the Minny defense all season.

Nebraska 24 Minnesota 17

Drew Brown’s kickoff was brought out to the 15 yard line. The Blackshirts forced a three-and-out and Minnesota punted the ball. The booming punt was fielded by DPE at the 15 yard line where he was buried by multiple Gopher defenders.

Ryker Fyfe entered the game for Nebraska and handed off to Terrell Newby who found a big hole. The next play included a flag on Cethan Carter (it looked dubious on replay, but sometimes what a player says instead of what they do draws the laundry) which backed the Huskers up 15 for unsportsmanlike conduct. On third and 18 at the 30, the draw play to Newby only gained four. Having forced the punt, Minnesota called a timeout with 3:08 left.

Lightbourn’s punt was short but rolled inside the 30 to the 28 yard line. First and 10 Gophers.

The Blackshirts got to Leidner on third down, but he managed to get the ball away to convert the first down. Josh Banderas was injured on the play. First down Gophers at the 40 yard line (2:12 left in the game). Josh Kalu was flagged for pass interference to give the Gophers a first down across midfield. A short completed pass and then another great pass with a couple of broken tackles got the Gophers into the red zone.

It looked like overtime was a very real possibility.

On the very next play, the Blackshirts struck as Kieron Williams intercepted Leidner on the goal line and returned it to the 14 yard line. Minnesota had one timeout left.

Ryker Fyfe entered the game and handed off to Terrell Newby for three yards. Minnesota used its last timeout with 1:20 left in the game. GO BIG RED! chants were heard throughout Memorial Stadium.

Ryker took a knee (twice) and ran out the clock to secure the victory.

Final: Nebraska 24 Minnesota 17

Nebraska’s win over Minnesota knocked the Gophers out of the driver’s seat in the B1G West division. The Badgers now have control and as long as they win, will be the West representative in the Big Ten Championship. If they stumble, the Husker have a chance to take over.

Great win. Tough opponent. Tougher quarterback.

Go Big Red!