Trey Foster (42) is jubilant with fellow senior tight end Sam Cotton (84) after catching a fourth-quarter touchdown pass.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Anatomy of The Longest Drive and an Unlikely Hero

By NU Athletic Communications

Randy York’s N-Sider

Official Blog of the Huskers

Someone made a movie about The Longest Yard, and after Saturday, one of Nebraska’s three fourth-quarter touchdowns belongs in a league of its own. Let’s call it The Longest Drive because it took 18 plays, covered 75 yards and consumed 10 minutes and 42 seconds during the third and fourth quarters.

If you count injuries on the field in the anatomy of The Longest Drive, it required a full 40 minutes to increase an uncomfortable 17-16 lead to 24-16, giving Husker football fans a chance to breathe a little easier on a beautiful Homecoming afternoon and a national television audience.

The ultimate hero in this unlikely scenario was Trey Foster, a senior third-team tight end from Lincoln Southeast who rooms with Tommy Armstrong Jr. and Jordan Westerkamp

Foster hauled in a six-yard touchdown pass with 4 minutes and 32 seconds remaining in Saturday’s game, prompting Nebraska’s offensive coordinator to make a simple statement that was as true as it was hilarious.

Sophomore offensive lineman Jerald Foster, sidelined with injury, cheers brother Trey's touchdown.

Danny Langsdorf on Trey Foster: He Goes in There and Catches Touchdowns

“Trey just goes in there and catches touchdowns…that’s all he does!” Langsdorf said in the hallway adjacent to the Ndamukong Suh Strength and Conditioning Complex.

When I relay Langsdorf’s deadpan comment to Foster, he smiles and acknowledges that Langsdorf is not stretching the truth. “Coach is making a reference to last year when I had one catch and one touchdown,” Foster said, “and this year I also have one catch and one touchdown.”

So what’s the difference between catching a nine-yard touchdown pass in the season opener last year against BYU and a six-yard TD grab Saturday against Illinois?

The answer is as easy as the question. Last year, the Huskers lost on a Hail Mary pass, and this year the catch solidified a 5-0 start to the 2016 season, which matches the same number of wins in the entire 2015 regular season.

On his fourth-quarter touchdown catch, Trey Foster kept the football intact despite landing upside down.

In Its First Five 2016 Games, Nebraska Has Outscored Its Opponents, 76-8

Equally compelling is Nebraska’s fourth-quarter productivity. The Huskers have outscored their first five opponents, 76 to 8, in the fourth quarter.

Foster earned kudos. “When there’s so much flow going away, Trey just goes and finds the void and then stays with it,” Langsdorft said. “He found it and Tommy hit him and we were able to finish well. We’ve owned the fourth quarter.”

“The way we lined up, there were two guys covering me (on the touchdown pass),” Foster said. “They kind of ran into each other, so I knew I had to get on my horse and get across the field. I saw Tommy rolling out and had to scramble, so I had to get over there.”

Spelling injured fellow senior Cethan Carter, “I was happy to get in the game and do my job,” Foster said. “The opportunity for me to play was huge, but honestly I’m more concerned for Cethan. I want to see him be successful this season and get back to the way we were. I can fill in. When he goes down, I have to step up. We had four people out this past week, so it speaks to our depth and preparation that we keep going.

“We all get a ton of reps in practice, so we know how to get the job done,” Foster said. “We have to be ready every single week. We’re a smart team and a tough team. We have a mindset to keep moving and to get in the red zone. We can’t be tired, and we have to be resilient."

Trey Foster caught one pass and scored one touchdown in 2015, then duplicated that feat this year.

Huskers Kept Chipping Away During the Game; Foster: ‘That’s Our Identity’

“Our bigger run plays have been in the fourth quarter,” Foster pointed out, “because we chip away at things. That’s our identity. We give them body blows all game. When they get tired, we dig down. We’re still ready to go, still giving 110 percent. If we’re tired or hurt, the new guys come in, and when we get rolling, it’s going to be hard to stop us.”

Who’s the catalyst for that identity and mindset? “Our coaches and (head strength coach) Mark Philipp,” Foster said. “He gives us great energy every day. You see it in the weight room and on the sideline. We want to get in the end zone. Guys are hurt, but everybody has to step up and get prepared. We don’t boast. We just want to make a statement that we can play all four quarters together.”

Nebraska’s unanswered 21 fourth-quarter points turned a 16-10 deficit into a 31-16 win. The Huskers also posted a season-high time of possession of 38 minutes and one second against Illinois. The Huskers have won all five games with a time of possession advantage, including three straight with at least 35 minutes or more.

Nebraska did not punt against Illinois and did not allow a single sack of Tommy Armstrong Jr., even though Illinois entered the game leading the nation with 4.3 sacks per game.

One of three senior veteran tight ends with extensive playing experience, Foster, a walk-on who earned a scholarship last year, is glad the Huskers get a bye next weekend. “We need to get people healthy,” he said. “We’re on a mission.”

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