Bloomington, Ind. – No. 10 Nebraska jumped to a 17-0 first-quarter lead then got 10 huge points in the fourth quarter to overcome a scrappy bunch of Hoosiers in the Husker football team’s 27-22 road win at Indiana on Saturday afternoon.
The Huskers, who improved to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten, got another mammoth drive in the fourth quarter from quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr., running back Terrell Newby and the rest of the Nebraska offense. After Indiana raced 75 yards in five plays and just 1:31 to cut Nebraska’s lead to 24-22 with 8:26 left, the Huskers mounted a 15-play, 60-yard march that consumed 7:41 on the clock and all of Indiana’s timeouts.
Newby carried the load on the drive, while Armstrong added a big 12-yard run on the second play of the drive and a key fourth-down conversion at midfield to drain the clock. Newby finished the day with 22 carries for 102 yards and a touchdown, including nine totes for 49 yards on Nebraska’s final drive. Newby had 11 carries for 57 yards in the fourth quarter.
Drew Brown turned Nebraska’s tenuous two-point lead into a five-point edge with his clutch 39-yard field goal with 45 seconds to push the Husker edge to 27-22 and force Indiana to score a touchdown to win. It was Brown’s second field goal of the day as he improved to 5-of-6 on field goals this season with his only miss on a 56-yard attempt. It was also the 40th field goal of his career, making the junior just the fourth kicker in Husker history with 40 field goals.
Nebraska moved to 6-0 for the first time since 2001 and extended its winning streak to seven consecutive games dating back to a bowl win over UCLA to end the 2015 campaign. It is the longest winning streak for the Big Red since notching 13 straight wins during the 2000 and 2001 seasons.
Indiana slipped to 3-3 overall and 1-2 in the Big Ten.
Cornerback Aaron Williams ended a strong 60-minute effort by Nebraska’s Blackshirt defense with an interception on Indiana’s second play following the decisive drive. It was the second interception of the game for the Blackshirts, including a 33-yard pick six for Chris Jones in the first quarter that gave the Big Red a 17-0 lead. Both Williams and Jones notched their team-leading third interceptions of the season for the Blackshirts.
The Huskers outgained Indiana, 360-333 on the afternoon, including a 152-88 edge in rushing yardage. Armstrong added 208 yards passing, but completed just 10-of-26 attempts with two interceptions on the day. However, the Blackshirts allowed Nebraska’s turnovers to become just three points for the Hoosiers.
Senior linebacker Josh Banderas led the Blackshirts with a season-high 11 tackles including a tackle for loss on the day, while safety Kieron Williams tied his career high with 10 stops. He also nearly pulled in an interception on Indiana’s final possession on the play prior to Aaron Williams’ game-ending interception. Aaron Williams also had one of three Nebraska sacks in the game, a key 13-yard sack that was the first sack of his career.
Nebraska completely controlled the first quarter on both sides of the ball. Armstrong led the Huskers on a 12-play, 52-yard drive that chewed up 5:14 on the clock on resulted in Brown’s 40-yard field goal to give Nebraska a 3-0 lead.
The Blackshirts then shut the door on Indiana’s first drive and the Husker offense was back on the field at their own 36 to open their second drive. Six plays and 64 yards later, Newby found paydirt from four yards out to give the Big Red a 10-0 lead with 4:47 left. The highlight of Nebraska’s second drive was a spectacular 45-yard catch by Brandon Reilly while lying on his back after the ball was deflected twice by Indiana defensive back Marcelino Ball.
Just 14 seconds later, Nebraska was back celebrating a touchdown as Jones intercepted a Richard Lagow pass and sprinted 33 yards untouched into the end zone to give Nebraska 17-0 lead with 4:33 left in the opening quarter. Lagow finished 19-of-32 for 196 yards and one touchdown through the air. He also threw both of Indiana’s interceptions.
While Nebraska owned the first quarter, Indiana controlled the second. The Hoosiers were sparked by a blocked punt for a safety, and then converted the ensuing drive into three points after a 12-play drive that consumed more than five minutes to cut Nebraska’s edge to 17-5.
Later in the quarter, the Hoosiers turned an Armstrong interception in Nebraska territory into three more points to cut the Husker lead to 17-8 at the half. The Huskers outgained the Hoosiers in the first half, but Indiana narrowly won the time of possession battle. Despite relatively even first-half stats, the Huskers held a nine-point lead.
Neither team could get untracked in the second half until the final play of the third quarter when Devine Redding scored from 33 yards out on a pitch to the right side as time expired in the period to cut Nebraska’s lead to 17-15 heading to the fourth quarter. Redding’s touchdown run was set up by Mitchell Paige’s 39-yard punt return.
But the Husker offense provided a quick-strike answer of their own early in the fourth quarter, when sophomore wide receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. made an outstanding adjustment on a deep ball thrown by Armstrong and turned it into a 72-yard touchdown pass. Morgan’s touchdown pushed Nebraska’s lead by to nine at 24-15, before Indiana answered with its five-play, 75-yard drive capped by Redding’s second touchdown of the day.
Morgan’s catch was the longest play from scrimmage for the Huskers this season. He finished with three receptions for 93 yards on the day, while Reilly added two receptions for 60 yards and tight end Sam Cotton hauled in three passes for 37 yards – both career highs.
Nebraska returns to Big Ten home action next Saturday when they take on Purdue at Memorial Stadium Lincoln. Kick-off between the Big Red and the Boilermakers is set for 2:30 p.m.