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Northwestern suffers epic ‘Hail’ at Nebraska

Nebraskwide receiver Jordan Westerkamp Montini product catches game-winning touchdown pass over Northwestern’s Dwight White (2) Jimmy Hall (9). | AP

Nebraska wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp, a Montini product, catches the game-winning touchdown pass over Northwestern’s Dwight White (2) and Jimmy Hall (9). | AP

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NEBRASKA 27, NU 24

Northwestern 14 7 0 3 — 24

Nebraska 7 7 7 6 — 27

First Quarter

Neb—Armstrong 5 run (Smith kick), 12:09.

NU—Green 1 run (Budzien kick), 6:56.

NU—Green 4 run (Budzien kick), 2:35.

Second Quarter

NU—Green 10 run (Budzien kick), 11:07.

Neb—Enunwa 3 pass from Armstrong (Smith kick), 6:37.

Third Quarter

Neb—Moss 25 interception return (Smith kick), 7:10.

Fourth Quarter

NU—FG Budzien 21, 1:20.

Neb—Westerkamp 49 pass from Kellogg, :00.

A—91,140.

TEAM STATISTICS NU Neb

First downs 16 28

Rushes-yards 47-245 50-195

Passing 81 277

Comp-Att-Int 8-21-1 22-42-4

Return Yards 43 25

Punts-Avg. 11-35.7 7-35.9

Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0

Penalties-Yards 3-15 4-40

Time of Possession 28:21 31:39

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING—Northwestern, Green 19-149, Colter 23-86, Buckley 2-7, Siemian 3-3. Nebraska, Abdullah 24-127, Armstrong 17-69, Cross 5-15, T.Newby 1-3, Team 1-(minus 3), Kellogg 2-(minus 16).

PASSING—Northwestern, Siemian 4-13-1-36, Colter 4-8-0-45. Nebraska, Armstrong 15-29-3-173, Kellogg 7-13-1-104.

RECEIVING—Northwestern, Green 2-13, C.Jones 2-8, Vitale 1-28, Buckley 1-17, Lawrence 1-11, Dickerson 1-4. Nebraska, Enunwa 6-67, Westerkamp 4-104, Moore 4-43, Abdullah 3-31, Burtch 3-20, Bell 2-12.

Updated: December 4, 2013 6:45AM



LINCOLN, Neb. — If there are other ways left to lose a game, Northwestern just might find them. Only problem: There don’t seem to be any left.

Poor execution, dumb penalties and officiating gaffes are some of the reasons the Wildcats are winless in Big Ten play. NU, however, was relatively upbeat despite the adversity.

But the Wildcats’ 27-24 loss at Nebraska on a last-second, 49-yard “Hail Mary” pass from Nebraska third-string quarterback Ron Kellogg III that was tipped and caught by wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp left them crestfallen.

“I feel for our guys,” NU coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “They fought and scratched and clawed.

‘‘Maybe I should’ve done something different at any point in the game. It’s on me. Obviously, we can’t keep doing this.”

The Wildcats are probably as angry at themselves as they are shocked. The ‘‘Hail Mary’’ play is something they rep every Thursday in practice. Fittingly, it’s the last play they run.

After kicker Jeff Budzien put NU up 24-21 with a 21-yard field goal, which was set up after defensive end Tyler Scott returned an interception to the Nebraska 7-yard line, the Wildcats weren’t convinced their losing streak — now at five — was over.

“You can’t ever think the game’s over, and when your time’s called, you got to go out there and execute,” said Scott, who was not on the field during the last play. “We’ve been in these battles the whole time, and we know they can go either way.

‘‘I didn’t think it was over. I just knew it gave us a good chance to win.”

The final play will be talked about as if the other 59 minutes, 56 seconds didn’t exist. And maybe if that were true, NU might feel better.

But failing to stop Nebraska on a fourth-and-15 was as much to blame for the loss as the Westerkamp catch. Cornhuskers running back Ameer Abdullah was wrapped up and still surged past the marker.

It was the kind of play Fitzgerald says winners make.

“We got, I think, two guys within three yards short, and their guy fought harder to get the first down,” Fitzgerald said.

But the dramatic end seemed to blind anyone watching.

“It happened so fast, and you would think that’s the last thing that would happen on that play,” NU running back Treyvon Green said.

Email: sgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SethGruen



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