Last-second touchdown pass lifts Huskers over Purdue

October 29, 2017 GMT

WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana — A fourth-quarter comeback led by quarterback Tanner Lee salvaged what would’ve been a third consecutive loss for Nebraska. Instead, the Huskers beat Purdue, 25-24 to improve to 4-4 on the season.

The 12-point comeback is tied for the largest fourth-quarter comeback in school history.

Quarterback Tanner Lee’s 27-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Hoppes cut a 12-point deficit to five with 11:03 remaining in the fourth. The Husker defense held, and with 3:48 left, on fourth-and-6 from the 15-yard line, Lee’s pass to JD Spielman fell incomplete.

The NU run defense stuffed Purdue enough times to give its offense one last shot.

Nebraska got the ball back with 82 seconds left and had to travel 70 yards. Lee found Devine Ozigbo for 7, Hoppes for 17, De’Mornay Pierson-El for 11, Ozigbo for 6, JD Spielman for 10, Ozigbo for 6 and put Nebraska at the 13-yard line with 18 second remaining.

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On third-and-4, Lee found Stanley Morgan in the middle of the field for a touchdown which put Nebraska up 25-24 with 14 seconds remaining.

Purdue’s final hook-and-ladder attempt as time expired fell short, and Nebraska prevailed.

Lee finished 31 for 49 for a career high 431 yards and two touchdowns. He was 7 for 8 in Nebraska’s game-winning drive.Offensively, drives stalling in the red zone killed the Huskers for most of the game. Nebraska settled for four field goals from kicker Drew Brown, two of which were from inside 30 yards. Nebraska also struggled to run the ball and only had eight rushing yards at the half. True freshman Jaylin Bradley led Nebraska with 42 yards on the ground. As a team, they ran for 40.Purdue was not prolific, nor efficient on offense, but the Nebraska defense nonetheless couldn’t stop the Boilermakers for most of Saturday. Quarterback David Blough was 16-for-28 for 164 yards and a touchdown, and added 33 yards and a rushing touchdown. Purdue running back Richie Worship ran for 89 yards and a touchdown.Nebraska trailed 14-6 at the half.Nebraska forced Purdue into a three-and-out on the opening drive. On NU’s first play, Lee threw a pass between three defenders to find Morgan, who ran for a 46-yard gain. A holding call on center Michael Decker negated a third-down conversion near the red zone, which would’ve put Nebraska at first-and-goal.Instead, kicker Drew Brown knocked in a season-long 44-yard field goal to make it 3-0.On that drive, Decker was helped off the field with a knee injury and he was replaced by Cole Conrad. Later in the quarter, safety Aaron Williams was taken off the field with an apparent head injury. He was replaced by Antonio Reed. Other Huskers who went out with injuries throughout the game included: Tanner Farmer, Reed, Marcus Newby, Lamar Jackson and Eric Lee. Newby and Jackson later returned.In the first quarter, both teams combined for six punts and just three points.Riley, tired of punting, decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the Nebraska 45-yard line early in the second quarter. Fullback Luke McNitt was stuffed at the line and Purdue took over. Six plays later, Worship rumbled into the end zone from four yards out to put Purdue up 7-3 with 12:30 left in the second.On the ensuing possession, a 14-yard completion on third down from Lee to JD Spielman kept the drive alive. A second-down, 29-yard pass from Lee to Hoppes put NU at the 4-yard line. But three straight broken plays kept Nebraska out of the end zone, including a drop by Pierson-El.Nebraska settled for a 21-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-6.On Purdue’s final drive of the half, the Boilermakers converted on its first third down of the game and drove the field to the 5 yard-line. Blough scored on a keeper with 24 seconds left push the lead up to 14-6 at the half.Nebraska finished the half with just eight rushing yards, and was 2 for 9 on third down. The Huskers received the ball first after the half, and yet again couldn’t punch in a touchdown. Nebraska threw the ball on seven of the nine plays after Ozigbo continued to get wrapped up near the line of scrimmage. Brown capped off a nine-play, 55-yard drive with a 37-yard field goal to make it 14-9.Purdue countered with a 20-yard field goal on its next possession.Again, Nebraska drove inside the Purdue 10-yard line. And yet again, Nebraska couldn’t come away with a touchdown. On first-and-goal from the nine, Bradley ran for four yards, was then stuffed for a loss of three, and then Lee couldn’t connect with Spielman in the end zone.Brown’s fourth field goal, this time from 24 yards, made it 17-12.Purdue faked a punt on fourth-and-19 to extend its next drive. Defensive back Dicaprio Bootle lit up a receiver while the ball was in the air, which pushed Purdue into scoring position. Three plays later, Blough found Jackson Anthrop for a 14-yard catch and score to boost the lead to 24-12.Nebraska followed with an important touchdown drive, which ended in a 27-yard touchdown pass from Lee to Hoppes to pull within one score. Lee completed balls to Bradley, Pierson-El and Hoppes on the 70-yard drive.Later in the fourth: Nebraska had a shot to tie it with 3:48 remaining, but Lee’s pass to Spielman on fourth down was a little too far.Purdue was unable to run the ball out, which gave Lee and the Huskers the ball back with just enough time to drive down the field and score, and win.Up next for Nebraska is Northwestern at home.