The Huskers win the Heroes Game Trophy back to Lincoln.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Huskers Work OT for 37-34 Win over Iowa

By NU Athletic Communications

Iowa City, Iowa – Nebraska overcame a 24-7 third-quarter deficit, as Tommy Armstrong Jr. threw a career-high four touchdowns, including a 9-yard strike to Kenny Bell in overtime, giving Nebraska a 37-34 win over Iowa Friday afternoon. 

After Iowa scored a field goal on its first possession, the Huskers were facing 3rd and 6 at the Iowa 21-yard line. Armstrong kept the drive alive by hitting Bell for 12 yards to the Iowa 9. On the next play, Amstrong scrambled and found Bell at the pylon in the corner of the end zone, giving the Huskers the comeback win and the Heroes Game Trophy for the third time in four years.

Armstrong completed 12-of-27 passes for 202 yards and four scores, while Bell had three catches for 53 yards and two scores. Ameer Abdullah rushed 13 times for 106 yards, as the Huskers totaled 363 yards and received big performance from De'Mornay Pierson-El, who returned three punts for 134 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. 

Nebraska needed dramatics to get the game to overtime, going 69 yards before Drew Brown's 20-yard field goal with eight seconds left sent the game to overtime. Armstrong completed a 14-yarder to Cethan Carter and a 35-yard pass to Brandon Reilly to get the ball to the Iowa 12 to keep the drive alive and help set up the field goal. 

Iowa controlled most of the action early, but the Blackshirts were opportunistic, forcing four first half turnovers, including two red zone. Nebraska finally cashed in on a Hawkeye turnover late the first half to pull within 10-7 at the break. 

Iowa dominated time of possession in the first half with a 20:01-to-9:59 advantage, while also racking up 178 yards on 40 plays, while Nebraska managed 92 yards on 21 plays.

Iowa got the ball first and drove down into Nebraska territory. With 3rd-and-goal at the Nebraska 7-yard line, Iowa’s Jake Rudock tried thread a pass into the end zone, but instead sophomore safety Nate Gerry came through with his team-high fifth interception of the year.

Rudock completed 19-of-38 passes for 230 yards, but had an interception and was sacked four times.

Nebraska picked up one first down but then saw its first offensive drive of the game stall and it was forced to punt following the turnover. The Huskers quickly were in position to score though when Matt VandeBerg fumbled on the punt return after being hit by Sam Foltz and Taariq Allen, with Chris Jones recovering at the Iowa 34-yard line.

The Husker offense went 3-and-out, setting up a 49-yard field goal try by Drew Brown that was no good, as the freshman from Southlake, Texas, had enough distance on the kick but he pushed it right of the uprights.

Following the missed field goal, the Hawkeyes took over and again marched inside the Huskers 10-yard line before committing their third turnover of the game. After holding the ball for over seven minutes on the drive, Rudock dropped back to pass on 3rd-and-4 from the Nebraska eight and fumbled when he was sack by Zaire Anderson, with Trevor Roach recovering.

NU’s offense was again unable to convert the turnover into points, and on third down Armstrong Jr. was hit while trying to pass, resulting in an errant pass that was picked off by John Lowdermilk and returned 17 yards for the first touchdown of the game.

After NU’s offense went 3-and-out, Iowa put together a 11-play drive that ended with a 22-yard field goal by Marshall Koehn. The Hawkeyes had 1st-and-goal at the NU 9-yard line, but NU’s defense was able to limit the Hawkeye to three points.

Trailing 10-0 with less than two minutes remaining in the first half, Armstrong completed a 10-yard pass to Jordan Westerkamp, but then threw his second interception of the game. Iowa took over at its own 41-yard line line and instead of running out the clock they tried to score which came back to burn them when Damond Powell caught a six-yard pass but was stripped by Joshua Kalu, who also recovered the fumble, the defense’s fourth of the first half, and returned it to the Iowa 36.

It looked like NU was going to fail to convert a turnover into points once again until Armstrong Jr. scrambled on third down and found Cethan Carter for 34 yards down to the five-yard line. On the very next play, Armstrong Jr. connected with a wide-open Abdullah for the senior’s 21st touchdown of the season and the 47th of his career at Nebraska, cutting Iowa’s lead to 10-7 going into halftime.

Afer the Huskers went 3-and-out on the first series of the second half, the Hawkeyes took advantage of the field possession, going 53 yards in five plays, as Rudock beat the Huskers’ blitz and found Tevaun Smith, who sidestepped Gerry’s tackle and went 37 yards for a score to put the Hawkeyes up 17-7.

Iowa took advantage of a special teams break on the Huskers’ next possession, as Foltz dropped the snap and the punt deflected off Zach Hannon and was scooped up by Drew Olt, who went 12 yards into the end zone to put Iowa ahead 24-7. 

The Huskers bounced back on the next series, putting together on their best drives of the day to that point by going 62 yards to get into field goal position, but could not capitalize.  After a pair of Pierson-El rushes, Ameer Abdullah broke through the line for 53 yard, breaking several tackles along the way to get to the Iowa 8-yard line. The drive stalled after a Husker holding penalty and Drew Brown’s 27-yard field goal field goal was blocked by Carl Davis to end the drive. 

After forcing an Iowa punt, the Huskers continued to move on the Hawkeyes defense, going 64 yards on five plays, as Armstrong Jr. found Taariq Allen for a 34-yard touchdown pass.  Abdullah got the drive started with another big play in the run game, taking a sweep and going 27 yards to the Iowa 37. Three plays later, Armstrong rolled out for time and found a wide-open Allen in the end zone for the longest catch of Allen’s career, pulling Nebraska within 24-14 with 1:44 left in the third quarter.

The Blackshirts forced five straight punts after falling behind 24-7, and Pierson-El nearly broke one, returning the punt 41 yards to the Iowa 32-yard line. The Huskers took advantage one play later, as Armstrong Jr. found Bell for a 32-yard touchdown pass - his first reception of the day - to pull the Huskers within 24-21 with 13:24 left.

After a three-and-out, Pierson-El gave the Huskers their first lead of the day, as the freshman took the punt from Dillon Kidd, found a seam, taking it 80 yards for his third punt return touchdown of the season to give NU a 28-24 lead.

Iowa came right back with a time-consuming drive to regain the lead, going 53 yards on 12 plays, as Rudock found Jordan Canzeri for a 5-yard touchdown pass to give Iowa a 31-28 lead with 1:49 left to set up the dramtics at the end of regulation.

The Huskers will now wait to find out what bowl they will be invited to, which will be announced Sunday, Dec 7.

Scoring Summary 

Final: Nebraska 37, Iowa, 34 (OT)
Friday, Nov. 28, 2014
Kinnick Stadium (Iowa City, Iowa)

Second Quarter (Iowa, 10-7)
IOWA – 9:07 – John Lowdermilk 17 interception return (Marshall Koehn kick) - IOWA 7-0
IOWA – 1:44 – Koehn 22 field goal, 11 plays, 58 yards, 6:08 – IOWA 10-0
NEB – 0:20 – Ameer Abdullah 5 pass from Tommy Armstrong Jr., 4 plays, 36 yards, 0:47 – IOWA 10-7

Third Quarter (Iowa, 24-14)

IOWA - 11:21 - Tevaun Smith 37 pass from Jake Rudock run (Marshall Koehn kick), 5 plays, 53 yards, 2:30 - IOWA 17-7
IOWA - 8:45 - Drew Olt 3 punt return (Marshall Koehn kick), 0 plays, 0 yards, 0:00 - IOWA 24-7
NEB – 1:44 – Taariq Allen 34 pass from Tommy Armstrong Jr., 5 plays, 64 yards, 1:33 – IOWA 24-14

Fourth Quarter (Tied 31-31)
NEB – 13:24 – Kenny Bell 32 pass from Tommy Armstrong Jr., 1 plays, 32 yards, 0:08 – IOWA 24-21
NEB – 12:06 – De'Mornay Pierson-El 80 punt return,  NEBRASKA 28-24
IOWA - 1:49 - Jordan Canzeri 5 pass from Jake Rudock, IOWA 31-27
NEB – 0:08 – Drew Brown 20 field goal,  TIED 31

OT (Nebraska 37-34)
IOWA - 15:00 - Marshall Koehn 25 field goal,  IOWA 34-31
NEB – 15:24 – Kenny Bell 9 pass from Tommy Armstrong Jr. – NEBRASKA 37-34

Attendance: 66,897
Time of Game: 3:44
Game Start: 11:05 a.m. (central)

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