Huskers drop heartbreaker to Iowa | Sjuts' Slant

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LINCOLN, Neb. -- Keith Duncan kicked a 48-yard field goal with one second left, giving No. 19 Iowa a 27-24 victory over Nebraska on Friday that leaves the Cornhuskers out of the postseason for a third consecutive season.

The Hawkeyes (9-3, 6-3 Big Ten) overcame a sluggish second half offensively to beat the Cornhuskers (5-7, 3-6) for a fifth straight year and second year in a row on a late field goal. Last year they won on a 41-yarder as time expired.

Iowa, which had its 14-point lead wiped out in the third quarter, started its final possession at its 26 with 32 seconds left. Stanley had a long pass to Nico Ragaini overturned to incomplete on video review, but then completed a pair of 22-yard passes to Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Sam LaPorta to bring on the reliable Duncan.

The Huskers called two timeouts before Duncan drilled the winner down the middle and with plenty of distance.

For a full breakdown of 2019 Husker stats, click here.

Nebraska, down 24-10 at half, tied it with back-to-back touchdowns in the third quarter. Luke McCaffrey entered the game for a play in place of quarterback Adrian Martinez, rolled to his left and hit JD Spielman with a perfect 39-yard TD pass.

After the Huskers forced a punt, Martinez was back in and the Huskers played some power football while driving 60 yards for the tying score. The Huskers ran on 12 of 13 plays, the only pass being an 11-yarder to Kade Warner to convert a fourth-and-6 before Wyatt Mazour ran up the middle into the end zone from 9 yards.

Smith-Marsette scored on a 45-yard on a reverse run and ran back a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown as Iowa got out to its lead in the first half. The Hawkeyes had 183 yards on 24 plays over their first five possessions, but they had only 73 yards on the next 26 snaps before their winning drive.

Iowa rushed for 225 yards, its most since going for 351 against Middle Tennessee on Sept. 28, but 100 came on two scoring plays.

Stanley completed 11 of 24 passes for 99 yards, his lowest total since throwing for 86 against Maryland last year. Tyler Goodson ran 13 times for a season-high 116 yards.

Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz moved ahead of the man he replaced, Hayden Fry, on the Big Ten list for career conference wins. Ferentz now has 97, behind only Ohio State’s Woody Hayes (153), Michigan’s Bo Schembechler (143) and the University of Chicago’s Amos Alonzo Stagg (115).

This was the ninth straight Black Friday meeting between Iowa and Nebraska. A Big Ten scheduling change-up has the Huskers playing Minnesota on the day after Thanksgiving the next two years. Iowa-Nebraska will be back on Black Friday in 2022.

SJUTS' SLANT
-The more prevailing emotion may be disbelief, not heartbreak. That game should've gone to overtime. Probability of it ending in regulation couldn't have been high. Iowa had 3rd down at its own 26 with less than :30 remaining.

-Special teams. They can help you and they can hurt you. Unfortunately for Nebraska, the latter happened. Iowa had a kick-off return for a touchdown and two made field goals including the game-winner.

-Senior Day festivities were great. Its always special to see the players' parents on the field before the game. Lamar Jackson was extremely emotional taking the field at Memorial Stadium before the final time. Carlos and Khalil Davis' parents were doubly proud. Mohamed Barry gave his mother a huge hug. Those 22 seniors endured a lot at Nebraska.

-The game was positioned for a blowout. Nebraska was down 14 points at halftime and the Huskers seemed to have little energy going to the locker room. Credit the players for re-focusing and rallying to tie the game.

-Nebraska's defense allowed just 11 yards in the second quarter and 7 yards in the third quarter. That's impressive, regardless of the opponent.

-AJ Epenesa is going to play on Sundays. As athletic and explosive as a pass rusher as the Huskers have faced since Chase Young. Okay, that was only two months ago. Man, there are some great defensive ends in the Big Ten. I'd expect Epenesa to leave for the NFL early.

-Wyatt Mazour scores on senior day -- how cool is that!?!? Mazour is from Albion and joined the program as a walk-on. He stuck out the coaching change, waited his time and was used frequently as a senior. Mazour's 9-yard TD run was just the second of his career; first at Memorial Stadium.

-Attendance was 89,093, but that's not even close to how many fans were in the seats. There was a lot of open space in the stands. Must've been some good deals at the local stores.

-The refs really took control of the game late. The Mike Williams block-in-the-back penalty should've never been called. The official that threw the flag was about 25 yards behind the play. Replay indicated it was a pretty weak call. Then, an Iowa catch was reviewed, as was Cam Taylor-Britt's targeting penalty. Both of those went in Nebraska's favor, but the whistles slowed the game down and disrupted the flow. It seemed to benefit Iowa; allowing the Hawkeyes to get settled each time.

-Adrian Martinez running out of bounds on the Huskers' final possession was costly. Stay in bounds and the clock continues to run. That decision might've been worth :32 seconds. Iowa's final drive started with :32.

-Iowa's kicker blew a kiss toward the Nebraska bench. Some say 'Keep it classy.' I'm okay with it. Anything to keep the rivalry flame flickering. Because the results certainly aren't adding much juice to the series.

-The 2019 season is over. Frankly, I'm stunned that Nebraska isn't going to bowl game. This team is talented enough to be among the dozens of teams playing in the post-season. Even through the Huskers' skid, I felt they would still rally late in the season to earn bowl eligibility. It'll be a long off-season with several lingering questions - who's the 2020 quarterback, which players move along the offensive line, how will the team's psyche improve, etc.

-5-7 is better than 4-8. There was progress this season, just not at the rate most had expected. The Big Ten West favorite fails to make a bowl game. 2019 may go down as one of the more underachieving seasons in Husker history.