Tommy Armstrong Jr. threw for 184 yards and three touchdowns in the final 11 minutes of regulation at Miami.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Huskers Fall in OT After Amazing Comeback

By NU Athletic Communications

Miami - Tommy Armstrong Jr. and the Huskers orchestrated the greatest fourth-quarter comeback in Nebraska history, erasing a 23-point deficit in the final 8:36 of regulation, but Miami escaped with a 36-33 overtime win on Saturday at Sun Life Stadium.

Trailing 33-10 after Miami's Michael Badgley connected on his fourth field goal of the game - a 28-yarder with 11:14 left - Armstrong led Nebraska to 23 unanswered points to send the game to overtime tied at 33. Nebraska's amazing comeback included a trio of fourth-quarter touchdown passes from Armstrong to Alonzo Moore, Brandon Reilly and Stanley Morgan Jr., and a pair of two-point conversion passes to Cethan Carter and Jordan Westerkamp. The conversion pass to Westerkamp tied the score with 33 seconds left.

In the final 11 minutes, Armstrong completed 11-of-19 passes for 184 yards and three scores, after completing just 10-of-26 passes for 125 yards in the game's first 49 minutes. He finished with 309 passing yards and four touchdowns, while accounting for 358 total yards, including some huge scrambles in the fourth quarter.

After shocking the Hurricanes in the fourth quarter, the Huskers started overtime with the football, but Armstrong's Miami magic ended abruptly when he threw his third interception of the game on Nebraska's opening play.

Miami took over and Badgley saved the victory for the Hurricanes by booting his fifth field goal of the game - a 28-yarder - to give Miami a three-point overtime win. The Hurricanes improved to 3-0 on the season, while Nebraska slipped to 1-2 with its other loss coming on a Hail Mary to BYU in the opener.

Miami sophomore quarterback Brad Kaaya completed 25-of-42 passes for 379 yards and two touchdowns on the afternoon, including a game-high nine receptions for 151 yards to Rashawn Scott. Kaaya connected with nine different receivers, including four receptions for 82 yards by Herb Waters. Kaaya's touchdown passes came to Chris Herndon and Tyre Brady on Miami's first two possessions of the game.

Joe Yearby added 125 yards rushing on 17 carries, but just 33 yards on his final eight after amassing 92 yards on his first nine totes. His 41-yard touchdown run on the fourth play of the second half put the Hurricanes up 27-3 just 1:10 into the second half.

However, the Huskers showed that they were not going to go away, answering with Armstrong's 22-yard touchdown pass to Westerkamp on the ensuing drive to trim the lead to 27-10. Westerkamp, who hauled in a touchdown pass for the fourth consecutive game, finished the day with five receptions for 95 yards. 

The Hurricanes added a field goal on their next drive to push the margin to 30-10 with 3:42 left in the third quarter, before adding Badgley's fourth field goal with 11:14 left in the fourth quarter to take a seemingly insurmountable 33-10 lead.

Armstrong and the Huskers refused to surrender.

Nebraska scored quickly as Armstrong hit Moore on a 10-yard touchdown strike to cap an eight-play, 75-yard drive that took 2:38. Armstrong then found Carter in the end zone for a two-point conversion to cut the 'Canes lead to 33-18 with 8:36 left. Nebraska's drive was aided by a 15-yard targeting penalty on Miami safety Deon Bush, who was ejected after hitting tight end Sam Cotton on an incompletion.

Armstrong completed passes to Morgan, Taariq Allen, Westerkamp and Moore to go 4-for-7 for 49 yards on the drive. Terrell Newby, who finished the day as Nebraska's leading rusher with 82 yards on 14 carries, added 16 rushing yards on the march.

The Blackshirts held on Miami's next drive thanks to a holding penalty on the Hurricanes erased what would have been Miami's second first down of the drive. The game grew stranger on Justin Vogel's punt. Vogel appeared to pin NU at the 11, but Miami was called for illegal formation. His second punt stuck Nebraska at the 15, but the Huskers were flagged for a five-yard roughing the kicker penalty. The Miami bench was then flagged for 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, before the 'Canes false started in advance of Vogel's third punt of the possession, which rolled into the end zone for a touchback.

With the Hurricanes visibly flustered, Armstrong and the Husker offense calmly went back to work. After a pair of incompletions, Armstrong hit Westerkamp for 21 yards on a crossing route to move the sticks to the NU 41. After a seven-yard connection to Newby, Armstrong hit a streaking Morgan across the middle. Morgan ran to the right sideline before turning it back across the middle for a huge 33-yard gain to the Miami 19.

After a pair of incompletions and a five-yard penalty, Armstrong scrambled for a three-yard gain to set up 4th-and-12 from the Miami 21 with just under four minutes left.

Armstrong then made his biggest throw of the game, connecting with a streaking Reilly, who leaped high into the air in the middle of the field, took a hit, secured the ball and landed in the end zone. It was Reilly's first career touchdown catch, and after Nebraska chose to kick the extra point, the Miami lead was just one score at 33-25 with 3:46 left. 

The focus turned to the Blackshirts, who surrendered nine yards to Yearby on his first two carries to set up 3rd-and-1 from the Miami 46. After a Nebraska timeout with 2:53 left, the Blackshirts swarmed Yearby and held him short of the first down, forcing a punt after another timeout with 2:47 left.

Armstrong and the Huskers took over at their own 13 with 2:39 left. He hit Newby for a four-yard gain, before connecting with a streaking Reilly down the right sideline for a huge 41-yard pickup. At the end of the play, the 'Canes lost their second starting safety of the fourth quarter when Jamal Carter was flagged for 15 yards and ejected for targeting after going helmet-to-helmet with Reilly. Reilly finished the day with four receptions for 83 yards.

The play and penalty moved Nebraska all the way to the Miami 27.

After a three-yard loss on a rush by Moore and an incompletion, Armstrong escaped a safety blitz and sprinted up the Nebraska sideline for a 16-yard gain and a first down to convert on 3rd-and-13. Newby carried for six yards before Armstrong hit the true freshman Morgan in the end zone. Morgan's catch, which cut the Miami lead to 33-31 with 33 seconds left, came despite being interfered with by a Hurricane defender. Morgan finished the day with four receptions for 78 yards.

Armstrong went to his favorite target Westerkamp for the two-point conversion to tie the score at 33, completing the largest fourth-quarter comeback in school history.

While the fourth-quarter comeback was complete, the victory escaped the Huskers in overtime when Miami's Corn Elder intercepted Armstrong on the first play of the extra period. Elder, who intercepted the ball at the goal line, returned it 47 yards before being pushed out of bounds by Armstrong. A penalty on the Huskers after the return allowed Miami to start its overtime drive at the Husker 12. Four plays later, Badgley kicked the game-winning field goal. 

Elder finished with five tackles and four pass breakups to go with his interception. He also had three punt returns for 44 yards on the afternoon.

In a game that took four hours and 13 minutes, Miami outgained Nebraska, 511-462, but the Huskers owned the fourth quarter, outyarding the Hurricanes, 223-101, while outscoring Miami, 23-3.

Playing on its home field in South Florida, Miami jumped on the Huskers early. The Hurricanes forced a three-and-out on the opening drive, then flew 65 yards in just five plays capped by Kaaya's first touchdown pass from 10 yards out to Herndon.

After holding the Huskers again, Kaaya capped a four-play 60-yard drive with his second touchdown pass of the opening quarter, an 11-yarder to Brady, to put the Hurricanes up 14-0. At that point, Miami had amassed 125 yards on their first nine plays of the game.

The Miami lead grew to 17-0 after a 12-play, 64-yard march resulted in Badgley's first of four field goals on the afternoon. At the end of the first quarter, Miami was up three scores and had outgained Nebraska, 179-49.

The teams exchanged field goals in the second quarter, as Drew Brown booted a career-long 49-yard field goal to put the Huskers on the board with 8:37 left in the half. Nebraska outgained Miami in the second quarter, but the Hurricanes still held a 254-152 edge in total yards at halftime.

Nebraska returns to Memorial Stadium next Saturday for a Homecoming game against Southern Miss. Kick-off is set for 11 a.m. with a live telecast by ESPN News.


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