LINCOLN, NEB. – Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. was knocked unconscious in last week’s 62-3 loss to Ohio State. He returned Saturday night against the Gophers, only to suffer two more injuries — a sprained ankle and a strained hamstring.
But after clearing the concussion protocol, Armstrong hung in there long enough to key Nebraska’s 24-17 victory.
Armstrong completed 19 of 27 passes for two touchdowns and also ran nine times for 61 yards and the go-ahead score. He injured his hamstring on that last touchdown and didn’t return, as Ryker Fyfe finished the game.
“He has had an incredible career and he is such a competitor,” receiver Jordan Westerkamp said. “He is the most competitive person I know and he just battles and battles and battles.”
Coach Mike Riley said Armstrong wasn’t cleared until the medical staff checked Saturday to see if he had a recurrence of concussion symptoms.
“I was kind of nervous, but I just wanted to go through the protocol,” Armstrong said. “A couple days where I was kind of ticked off about the results here and there, but it got better. I just had to trust in the doctors.”
Gophers right tackle Jonah Pirsig appeared to reinjure his left ankle on his team’s first drive. But he had the ankle retaped and wound up playing the rest of the game. The injury kept him out for three games in October.
“The O-line battled for me hard on third downs in protection and really throughout the whole game,” quarterback Mitch Leidner said. “With what those guys are playing through — that’s the toughest group of guys that I’ve ever seen.”
Tribute for Foltz
Gophers kicker Emmit Carpenter and punter Ryan Santoso were both at the Kohl’s kicking camp in Wisconsin this July with Nebraska punter Sam Foltz before Foltz was killed in a car accident.
The Gophers joined the list of teams that have paid tribute to Foltz, presenting Nebraska’s specialists with a jersey with “Foltz” and his No. 27 on the back. Former Gophers punter Peter Mortell was at the game and joined the presentation.
“Sam was one of the most special people you’ll have the pleasure of meeting in your life,” Carpenter said last week. “His death was something that shook up the whole Big Ten, especially the whole college specialists community.”
Eden Prairie grad JD Spielman, last year’s Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year, is redshirting for Nebraska.
Coaches listed Spielman as a freshman standout in training camp. But for now he has junior De’Mornay Pierson-El ahead of him on the depth chart as a slot receiver and returner.
Nebraska receivers Jordan Westerkamp, Alonzo Moore and Brandon Reilly are seniors, so Spielman has a good chance of being a starter in 2017.
• Gophers running back Shannon Brooks, who missed his third game of the season because of an injury last week, returned and had nine carries for 17 yards. His longest run was 6 yards. Rodney Smith had 17 carries for 53 yards, including a 31-yarder.
• Garrison Wright, who left last week because of a shoulder injury, started at right guard for the Gophers. He is a cousin of ex-Twins pitcher Brian Duensing, who attended Nebraska and was at the game. Duensing tweeted: “Wow, surprisingly emotional watching my cousin @GarrisonJWright take the field here. … So proud of him.”