Thor­son throws North­west­ern past Ne­braska in over­time

The Record (Troy, NY) - - SPORTS - By An­drewSelig­man

EVANSTON, ILL. >> Rolling along with a 10-point lead, Ne­braska had its first vic­tory un­der coach Scott Frost and the end of the long­est los­ing streak in its proud his­tory in sight.

North­west­ern yanked it all away. And now, the Corn­huskers are off to their worst start ever.

Clay­ton Thor­son threw for a ca­reer-high 455 yards and three touch­downs, and Drew Luck­en­baugh kicked a 37-yard field goal in over­time to give North­west­ern a 34-31 vic­tory over the win­less Corn­huskers on Satur­day af­ter­noon.

Ne­braska (0- 6, 0- 4 Big Ten) blew a 10-point lead in the fi­nal 5:41 in reg­u­la­tion and fell to 0- 6 for the first time. The Corn­huskers also ex­tended the long­est los­ing streak in their sto­ried his­tory to 10 games. It’s not the start Frost en­vi­sioned when he de­cided to take over at his alma mater af­ter or­ches­trat­ing a dras­tic turn­around in two sea­sons coach­ing Cen­tral Florida.

“This is wear­ing on me, but mostly I just feel bad for them, es­pe­cially the se­niors,” he said.

Flynn Nagel set ca­reer highs with 220 yards re­ceiv­ing and two touch­downs.

Luck­en­baugh made the first two field goals of his ca­reer in the fourth quar­ter and over­time af­ter miss­ing a 42-yarder in the third. And the Wild­cats (3-3, 3-1) won for the first time at home af­ter an 0-3 start at Ryan Field.

“That’s the most fun foot­ball game I’ve ever been a part of,” Nagel said.

Things weren’t look­ing good for them trail­ing 31-21 with 5:41 left in the fourth quar­ter. But Luck­en­baugh kicked a field goal and North­west­ern drove 99 yards af­ter get­ting pinned at the 1 with 2:02 left.

The Wild­cats were aided by a rough­ing-the-passer penalty against Car­los Davis that moved the ball from the 1 to the 16, and Thor­son fin­ished the drive with a 5-yard TD to JJ Jef­fer­son with 12 sec­onds left in reg­u­la­tion.

Ne­braska got the first shot in over­time af­ter North­west­ern de­ferred. Frost de­cided to go for it on fourth-and-1 at the 16 rather than kick a field goal in part be­cause Bar­ret Pick­er­ing missed one ear­lier in the game. A low snap out of the shot­gun on what quar­ter­back Adrian Martinez said was a run­ning play did in the Corn­huskers. He scooped up the loose ball around the 30, heaved it to the end zone from the 37 and got in­ter­cepted by JR Pace .

North­west­ern moved six yards be­fore Luck­en­baugh nailed a 37-yarder on fourth down to give the Wild­cats their sec­ond straight vic­tory and set off a wild cel­e­bra­tion.

“Great char­ac­ter, ab­so­lutely ter­rific char­ac­ter,” coach Pat Fitzger­ald said. “That’s who they are. That’s who we re­cruit. I thought the talk on the bound­ary the whole game was ex­cel­lent. But af­ter we got the field goal to cut it to a onescore game, the guys (said), ‘ We’re win­ning this foot­ball game. We’re win­ning the game.’ ... To get it done in over­time I just think shows char­ac­ter.”

Ne­braska’s Dev i ne Ozigbo ran for 159 yards and two touch­downs. Martinez threw for 251 yards and a TD.

JD Spiel­man caught eight passes for 76 yards and a touch­down. But Ne­braska re­mained win­less since a vic­tory at Pur­due last Oct. 28.

“It’s frus­trat­ing,” linebacker Luke Gif f ord said. “That’s for sure. At this point, the rah, rah stuff — that’s got to go. I think we have passed that point.”

THE TAKE­AWAY Ne­braska: This one has to sting for the Corn­huskers, who thought they were on the verge of break­ing through prior to this game. They were in con­trol, only to let the lead slip away down the stretch.

North­west­ern: The Wild­cats showed re­solve by ral­ly­ing late. But they con­tinue to strug­gle in the run game since lead­ing rusher Jeremy Larkin was forced to stop play­ing be­cause of a spinal is­sue. They fin­ished with 32 yards rush­ing — com­pared to 231 for Ne­braska — af­ter be­ing held to a com­bined 36 over the pre­vi­ous two games. QUOTABLE

“I was just think­ing about this, we’ve been pro­gress­ing so much over the weeks, we’re just miss­ing that one thing, we’ve marked off ev­ery box. We just haven’t got a win and it’s the cra­zi­est thing.” — Ozigbo on Ne­braska’s streak.

“Ev­ery­thing felt pretty calm. I was with my holder and my snap­per. ... They’re talk­ing to me be­cause they’d been in this be­fore.” — Luck­en­baugh on get­ting ready to kick the win­ner. UP NEXT Ne­braska: Hosts Min­nesota on Oct. 20.

North­west­ern: Vis­its Rut­gers on Oct. 20.


Ne­braska’s Mike Wil­liams (19) is tack­led by North­west­ern’s Blake Gal­lagher (51) and North­west­ern’s Cameron Ruiz dur­ing the first half of an NCAA col­lege foot­ball game Satur­day, Oct. 13, 2018, in Evanston, Ill.

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