Lincoln - In one of the most exciting and hotly contested Red-White Spring games in history, Brett Maher booted a 39-yard field goal as time expired to give the Reds a 32-29 walk-off win in front of 66,784 fans at Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
It was Maher's third field goal of the day, as he also opened the scoring for the White team with a 39-yard field goal in the second quarter, before adding a 25-yard field goal for the White to open the third quarter.
In a game dominated by the top defensive units early, the offenses got rolling in the second quarter. The two units combined for 713 yards of total offense in 129 total plays. They also amassed 709 kickoff return yards on 11 returns, and 77 punt return yards on four returns.
Sophomore I-back Rex Burkhead led the Whites with 11 carries for 91 yards on the afternoon, while Zach Taylor led the Red backs with 10 carries for 62 yards, including the game-tying touchdown and ensuing two-point conversion run with 8:35 left to make it 29-all.
Brion Carnes led the White's quarterbacks with 11-for-15 passing for 173 yards and two touchdowns, including a go-ahead 39-yard strike to Jacob Smith to give the White a 29-21 lead with 14:47 left.
The game also featured several long special teams returns, including a 59-yard punt return and a 54-yard kickoff return by Jamal Turner. Overall, Turner amassed 135 yards on three total returns, while adding four receptions for 93 yards, including a second-quarter touchdown. Brandon Kinnie added a 68-yard kickoff return for the Reds.
Ron Kellogg III answered by completing 11-of-19 passes for 124 yards for the Red. Fullback Tyler Legate also starred offensively for the Red with a pair of first-half touchdown runs to give the Reds control of the game early, before the White rallied late in the first half and early in the second half.
After a scoreless first quarter, Maher finally put points on the board for the White team with a 39-yard field goal with 10:46 left in the first half.
The Reds then provided an explosive answer, as Kinnie took Maher's ensuing kickoff and raced 68 yards to the White 27. After a 13-yard hookup between Kellogg III and Robert Barry, Legate burst up the middle for a 14-yard touchdown run to give the Reds a 7-3 lead with 9:56 left in the half.
The Red defense forced a punt on the White's next drive, and then assumed some control of the game when a nine-play, 78-yard march that consumed 4:07 was capped by a two-yard touchdown run by Legate.
Although the Reds claimed a 14-3 lead with 4:19 left, the Whites narrowed the gap before halftime when Carnes connected with Turner on a 49-yard touchdown pass with 53 seconds left. Turner was flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty for excessive celebration, which led to a miss on a 28-yard extra-point try by Ethan Davis. The Reds took a 14-9 lead to the halftime locker room.
After thousands of fans cleared the field from taking the halftime Drug Free Pledge led by assistant coach Ron Brown and former Husker All-America kicker Alex Henery, the White team narrowed the gap to 14-12 on Maher's 25-yard field goal with 12:58 left in the third quarter.
The Reds regained a measure of control when Antonio Bell scooped up a fumble and raced 28 yards to paydirt to give the Red a 21-12 cushion with 11:28 left in the third quarter.
Davis then brought the White within a score by connecting on a 25-yard field goal with 7:35 left in the quarter to cut the Red lead to 21-15. Carnes then led another White scoring drive that was capped by Austin Jones' seven-yard scoring run and a Davis extra point to give the White a 22-21 lead with 57 seconds left in the third.
Just over a minute later, Carnes struck again with his 39-yard strike to Jacobs to give the Whites a 29-21 lead with 14:47 left.
Kellogg then brought the Reds back with a 14-play, 69-yard drive that covered 6:57. The drive was capped by Taylor's nifty 11-yard scoring run, before Taylor added the two-point conversion run to tie the score.
After an on-side kick attempt by Maher and the Reds, Carnes quickly put the White in scoring position, driving the White to the Red 11. Maher, wearing a Red jersey along with holder Austin Cassidy, then took the field with a chance to give the White team the lead with 3:25 left. Cassidy, who was a Red team captain and helped choose his teammates for the game, took the snap, stood up and threw the ball into the corner of the end zone to the dismay of White team head coach Bo Pelini. Coach Pelini instructed Maher and Cassidy to try again, and Maher missed his only kick of the day to the applause of the Red team sideline and Coach Carl Pelini.
The Whites stopped the Reds on the ensuing drive and forced a 55-yard Maher punt. For the day, Maher punted six times for a 49.3-yard average, including a long punt of 56.
Carnes and the White squad tried to mount one last drive but a fumble on fourth down gave the Reds one last chance with 43 seconds left at the White 39. Kellogg hit J.T. Kerr on a 14-yard strike to move within field goal range, before Legate moved the ball forward three more yards to set up Maher's winning 39-yard kick as time expired.
Final: Red 32, White 29
First Quarter (0-0)
Second Quarter (Red, 14-9)
White - 10:46 - Brett Maher 39 field goal, 7 plays, 36 yards, 3:21
Red - 9:56 - Tyler Legate 14 run (Maher kick), 2 plays, 27 yards, :38, Red, 7-3
Red - 4:19 - Legate 2 run (Maher kick), 9 plays, 78 yards, 4:07, Red, 14-3
White - 0:53 - Jamal Turner 49 pass from Brion Carnes (Ethan Davis no good),
8 plays, 93 yards, 3:18, Red, 14-9
Third Quarter (White, 22-21)
White - 12:58 - Maher 25 field goal, 6 plays, 28 yards, 1:28, Red, 14-12
Red - 11:28 - Antonio Bell 28 fumble return (Maher kick), Red, 21-12
White - 7:35 - Davis 25 field goal, 7 plays, 33 yards, 3:44, Red, 21-15
White - 0:57 - Austin Jones 7 (Davis kick), 10 plays, 54 yards, 4:28, White, 22-21
Fourth Quarter (Red, 32-29)
White - 14:47 - Jacob Smith 39 pass from Carnes (Davis kick), 1 play, 39 yards, 0:08,
Red - 8:35 - Zach Taylor 11 run (Taylor Rush 2 PAT), 14 plays, 69 yards, 6:04, 29-29
Red - 0:00 - Maher 39 field goal, 4 plays, 17 yards, 0:43, Red 32-29
Final: Red 32, White 29
Time of Game: 2:48