Comeback falls short in 36-33 OT loss to Miami
[rl]MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - In the span of one ill-timed pass, Nebraska went from pulling off the biggest comeback in school history to suffering a painful overtime loss to Miami on Saturday.
After mounting a 24-point rally in the second half, the Huskers were intercepted on the first play of overtime to set Miami up for a game-winning field goal in what ended as a 36-33 defeat.
It couldn't have been a much worse start for Nebraska in any aspect of the game, as Miami jumped all over the Huskers from the opening kickoff and didn't let up much at all through the rest of the first half.
After a quick three-and-out by NU to open the game, Maimi marched 65 yards on five plays and scored the first touchdown of the day on a 10-yard pass from Kaaya to Chris Herndon. Nebraska stalled again on its ensuing possession, and the Hurricanes capitalized once again by going another 60 yards on four plays and scoring again on an 11-yard pass from Kaaya to Tyre Brady to go up 14-0 not even seven minutes into the quarter.
Another NU punt after that set up Miami's third score in as many drives, but a goal line stand by the Blackshirts held the Hurricanes to a 23-yard field goal by Michael Badgley to make it 17-0 at the end of the first quarter. By the time the opening quarter finally wrapped up, UM had out-gained Nebraska 179-49 in total offense, racked up a 10-3 advantage in first downs, and saw Kaaya complete nine of this first 13 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
Nebraska finally got something going offensively in the second quarter, as a 23-yard run by junior running back Terrell Newby set up sophomore kicker Drew Brown for a 49-yard field goal, which marked a career high and cut the deficit to 17-3.
But the rally wouldn't last long, as Kaaya connected with Rashawn Scott for a 52-yard pass on the very first play of the following Miami drive that led to a 27-yard field goal by Badgley and pushed the lead back up to 20-3 with just over six minutes left in the half. That score would hold on into halftime, with Miami putting up 254 total yards to Nebraska's 152, including a 226-65 edge in the passing game.
Things didn't get any better to start the third quarter, either. Miami came out of the gates and picked up three straight first downs on its first three plays of the half before running back Joseph Yearby broke a 41-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 27-3.
Just when it seemed as if the Hurricanes had gained full control, Nebraska came back with its best drive yet and reached the end zone for the first time on a 22-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Tommy Armstrong to junior wide out Jordan Westerkamp to bring it back to 27-10 with 9:03 left in the third.
The Huskers had a chance to get Miami's offense off the field on its next possession and keep the momentum going, but Kaaya converted a third-and-7 with a 34-yard pass to Brady. Miami ended up getting a 41-yard field goal from Badgley out of the drive, but it could have been worse considering UM had a 19-yard touchdown run by Mark Walton wiped off the board by a holding penalty.
The rare good fortune would seemingly be short lived, as Armstrong was picked off on a fluky interception that saw the ball ricochet off receiver Brandon Reilly and pop high in the air only to fall right into the lap of defensive back Deon Bush while he was lying on his back on the NU 23-yard line. With Miami knocking on the door for another touchdown, though, defensive back Joshua Kalu picked off Kaaya in the end zone to end the threat.
Later in the fourth quarter, Badgley knocked in his fourth field goal of the day to pad the lead to 33-10 with 11:14 remaining, and the crowd of 53,580 started filing for the exits with a comfortable 23-point advantage. The Huskers weren't done yet, however.
Armstrong led NU on a 75-yard drive and capped it with an 10-yard touchdown pass to Alonzo Moore and then added a two-point conversion on a pass to tight end Cethan Carter to bring the deficit down to 33-18 with 8:36 to play.
Nebraska was able to get the ball back with just over six minutes to go, and Armstrong found freshman Stanley Morgan for a 33-yard pass to move into Hurricane territory. Then, facing a fourth-and-12, Armstrong hit Reilly for a 21-yard touchdown pass to make it 33-25 with 3:46 left in the game.
The defense was able to force a three-and-out by Miami and get the ball back at its own 16. Armstrong found Reilly down the sideline for a 41-yard gain, and then a targeting penalty on UM moved the ball to the Hurricane 27. Armstrong scrambled for a 16-yard gain on a third-and-13, and then with 33 seconds on the clock, found Morgan in the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown to make the score 33-31.
Needing a two-point conversion to tie, Armstrong hit Westerkamp on a quick slant to knot it up at 33-33 and leave the Miami fans who stuck around stunned. The Hurricanes would kneel out the remaining clock, sending the game into overtime. Miami won the overtime coin toss and elected to differ, giving the Huskers the ball to start the extra session.
On the first play of Nebraska's drive, Armstrong heaved a pass towards the end zone that was intercepted by Miami defensive back Corn Elder at the goal line. A personal foul on NU during the return started UM at the 12-yard line, and after running the ball down to the 3, the Hurricanes sealed the game with a 28-yarder by Badgley.
The Huskers will try and bounce back at hoe next week when they host Southern Miss for an 11 a.m. kick on the Big Ten Network.