Huskers fall to the Wildcats in overtime, 31-24

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- Clayton Thorson sneaked into the end zone on fourth-and-1, and Northwestern's defense came up with a big sack and pass breakup in overtime for a 31-24 win over Nebraska on Saturday.

The Wildcats (6-3, 4-2 Big Ten) have had three straight games go to overtime, and they've won each of them. They also clinched bowl eligibility for a third straight year.

Northwestern scored the tying touchdown with 5:32 left in the fourth quarter, and after Thorson's pass to the end zone was broken up on the final play of regulation, the Wildcats got the ball first in overtime.

The Cornhuskers (4-5, 3-3) kept Thorson out of the end zone on third-and-goal from the 1. Northwestern chose to go for the touchdown rather than kick a field goal, and Thorson got into the end zone on the next play with a push from Trey Pugh.

On Nebraska's possession, freshman defensive tackle Samdup Miller sacked Tanner Lee on second down for a 10-yard loss. After Lee hit Tyler Hoppes for 8 yards to set up a fourth-and-12, Kyle Queiro broke up a pass intended for JD Spielman.

Justin Jackson ran 31 times for 154 yards and a touchdown, and Thorson threw for 243 yards for the Wildcats, with Macan Wilson catching five balls for 107 yards.

Devine Ozigbo had 72 yards on 23 carries for the Huskers. Lee passed for 225 yards and two touchdowns but was intercepted three times.

Marcus Newby ran back his first career interception 49 yards for a touchdown to give Nebraska the lead early in the third quarter, and Drew Brown's 23-yard field goal put the Huskers up 24-17.

The Wildcats did next to nothing offensively in the second half until they went 84 yards in 13 plays after Godwin Igwebuike made a diving interception at his own 16.

Clayton Thorson hit Flynn Nagel for 20 yards on a third-and-9 and Jackson ran 2 yards to convert a fourth-and-1 before Thorson went 7 yards untouched for the tying touchdown.

THE TAKEAWAY
Northwestern: The Wildcats have won four straight after an 0-2 start in Big Ten play, and they've won three of four meetings in Lincoln since the Huskers joined the Big Ten. Queiro had two interceptions and a couple huge pass breakups.
Nebraska: Lee had shaken off the interception bug the last month, but his three picks against Northwestern gives him 13 for the season.

UP NEXT
Northwestern hosts Purdue on Saturday.
Nebraska visits Minnesota on Saturday.

49 –– Senior linebacker Marcus Newby recorded his first career interception in the third quarter, returning it 49 yards for a touchdown to give Nebraska a 21-17 lead. The 49-yard interception return for a touchdown was the longest by a Husker since Larry Asante had a 74-yard interception return against Louisiana-Lafayette in 2009. It was the longest interception return of any kind by an NU player since Nate Gerry had a 54-yard interception return against Illinois in 2014. Newby finished the game with a career-high tying 10 tackles, including eight solo stops.

8-4 –– In the loss Nebraska fell to 8-4 all time in games decided in overtime, including 2-1 at Memorial Stadium. Today was Nebraska’s first overtime game since Oct. 29 last season when Nebraska lost, 23-17, at Wisconsin. Nebraska last played an overtime game at home on Sept. 30, 2006, when it beat Kansas, 39-32. Nebraska’s other overtime game at home was a victory over Iowa State, 27-20, on Oct. 1, 2005.

7 –– Northwestern’s seven-point victory was the largest margin of victory between the two teams in a game played in Lincoln since Nebraska joined the Big Ten. The last three meetings in Lincoln were determined by a total of eight points, including margins of 3, 3 and 2 points.

100 –– Stanley Morgan Jr. caught four passes for 38 yards in the game, increasing his career receptions total to 101. Morgan is the 10th Husker with 100 career receptions. Morgan also moved into the top 10 on the NU career receiving yardage list. With his 38 yards today, Morgan has 1,447 career yards to rank 10th in school history. He passed Maurice Purify (1,444 yards) in the game. Morgan has caught a pass in 23 consecutive games, tying for the fifth-longest streak in school history.

1,000 –– Junior I-back Devine Ozigbo rushed 23 times for 72 yards. With his 72 rushing yards this afternoon, Ozigbo increased his career rushing total to 1,052 yards and became the 65th Husker player with 1,000 career rushing yards.

7 –– Senior safety Joshua Kalu intercepted a first-quarter Northwestern pass and returned it 32 yards. It marked Kalu’s seventh career interception and his second in 2017.

2 –– Quarterback Tanner Lee connected on two touchdown passes, marking the seventh time in nine games Lee has thrown for at least two touchdown passes. Lee has thrown for 17 touchdown passes this season, nine shy of the school record of 26 set by Zac Taylor in 2006. With his 225 passing yards today, Lee now has 2,365 yards on the season and moved from 10th to eighth the single-season passing chart. He passed Zac Lee (2,143 – 2009) and Tommy Armstrong Jr. (2,180 – 2016). Lee has thrown for at least 200 yards in eight of nine games this season.

Other Notes
· Nebraska converted two Northwestern turnovers into 14 points, including an interception by a touchdown by Marcus Newby. Northwestern scored seven points following Nebraska’s three turnovers.
· The Nebraska defense limited Northwestern to 1-of-11 on third downs, including preventing conversions on the Wildcats’ first eight third-down attempts.
· JD Spielman had a 40-yard run in the second quarter, the longest rush by a Husker this season. It was a career long run for Spielman and doubled his previous rushing total for the season (7 carries, 20 yards). Spielman finished the game with 45 rushing yards, 48 receiving yards and 102 kickoff return yards, giving him 195 all-purpose yards on the game. Spielman has 1,154 all-purpose yards this season, 105 yards shy of the freshman all-purpose record of 1,259 yards by Ahman Green in 1995.
· Quarterback Tanner Lee threw an interception on his fifth attempt of the day, ending his streak of attempts without an interception at 122 passes, dating back to the first quarter of the Wisconsin game.
· Redshirt freshman safety Marquel Dismuke made his first career start in today’s game.
· Redshirt freshman tight end Jack Stoll had a 32-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. It marked the first career touchdown for Stoll on his second career reception.
· Senior kicker Drew Brown connected on a 23-yard field goal in the third quarter for his 58th career field goal. He passed his brother, Kris, for second place on the NU career field goal chart.