West Lafayette, Ind. - Nebraska's Blackshirt defense just missed its first shutout since 2009, as the Big Red rolled to a 44-7 victory at Purdue on Saturday.
With the victory in its first road game of the season, the Huskers improved to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the Big Ten. The win was Nebraska's first in history over Purdue in the first meeting between the two schools as Big Ten foes. Purdue slipped to 1-5 overall and 0-2 in the Big Ten.
Nebraska's defense was dynamic from start to finish, holding Purdue to just 216 yards of total offense, while recording five sacks and forcing a pair of turnovers. The Blackshirts saw their first shutout since a 33-0 win over Arizona in the 2009 Holiday Bowl slip away in the final 40 seconds with Danny Etling's 55-yard touchdown pass to DeAngelo Yancey on Purdue's final offensive play of the game.
Yancey finished with five receptions for 146 yards. The rest of the Boilermakers combined for just 70 yards of total offense, while the Blackshirts held Purdue to just 32 rushing yards in the game.
Sophomore defensive end Randy Gregory led the Huskers with two tackles for loss - both sacks for a total of 28 yards lost. His second sack of Etling went for 17 yards and a third-quarter safety that put NU up 30-0.
Gregory added a third-quarter fumble recovery that Ameer Abdullah and the Husker offense converted into a 28-yard touchdown run on the game's next play. Abdullah powered the NU offense with his fifth 100-yard rushing game of the season. The junior I-back finished with 126 yards on 20 carries. Abdullah also became the 28th Husker in history to cross the 2,000-yard rushing mark for his career.
LeRoy Alexander snagged Nebraska's first turnover of the day with his first career interception in the first quarter that set the Huskers up at the Purdue 25. The offense was unable to convert though, as Nebraska redshirt freshman quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. threw his first career interception in the end zone on the next play.
It was one of three interceptions for Armstrong on the day, but the young Husker signal caller still improved to 3-0 as a starter in place of injured senior quarterback Taylor Martinez, who sat out with a foot injury for the third straight game. Nebraska amassed 435 yards of total offense, including 251 yards on the ground and 184 through the air.
Armstrong completed just 6-of-18 passes for 43 yards on the day and managed just five rushing yards on four carries. However, he did score the game's first touchdown by leading the Huskers to paydirt on their first possession of the game. Armstrong's three-yard touchdown run gave Nebraska a 7-0 lead just over five minutes into the game. It was also the first touchdown run by a Husker quarterback this season.
It was the first of five rushing touchdowns on the day, including a pair of short blasts by sophomore I-back Imani Cross. His first plunge was a one-yard dive on fourth down to end the first quarter and give the Huskers a 14-0 lead. His second touchdown came from two yards out to put NU up 28-0 midway through the third quarter. Cross, who finished with 56 yards on 16 carries, owns a team-leading eight touchdowns on the season.
Senior quarterback Ron Kellogg III produced a solid afternoon in Nebraska's two-quarterback rotation. Kellogg completed 10-of-13 passes for 141 yards, including a short touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Quincy Enunwa early in the fourth quarter. It was Enunwa's team-leading seventh touchdown catch of the season. He also caught at least one pass for the 20th consecutive game.
Enunwa led the Husker receiving corps with four catches for 72 yards, while redshirt freshman Jordan Westerkamp added career highs of three catches for 53 yards. Kenny Bell, Cethan Carter and Ameer Abdullah each added a pair of receptions for the Huskers, while Trey Foster contributed the first catch of his career. NU finished 15-of-31 for 184 yards in the passing department.
In addition to Abdullah's 126 rushing yards, freshman Terrell Newby helped the Husker ground game with 10 carries for 61 yards, while King Frazier contributed three carries for nine yards and Nebraska's final touchdown on a two-yard blast with 50 seconds left.
Nebraska will enjoy a bye week in Big Ten play next week, before traveling to Minnesota to take on the Golden Gophers on Saturday, Oct. 26. Kick-off time and television coverage has not yet been announced.