Nebraska’s first counter move was highlighted by Terrell Newby’s 69-yard touchdown run. The Huskers’ second counter was jump-started by a 34-yard pass from Tommy Armstrong Jr. to Brandon Reilly. The third was a 99-yard marathon drive for another touchdown.
Three times the Huskers responded with something better than the Gophers’ previous drive to stymie any early momentum the home team managed to muster Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium. The counterattacks put the Gophers behind and frustrated in an eventual 48-25 Huskers victory.
“We did have the response [Saturday] that we needed, ’cause it could have gotten scary there. But we controlled the ball and kept the ball,” Nebraska coach Mike Riley said. “One of the whole features of this game is how we answered the bell again, and this time we won.”
The Gophers took a 7-0 lead after winning the coin toss and electing to receive the opening kickoff.
Quarterback Mitch Leidner drove the offense 75 yards on nine plays in 4:46, but the Huskers did it better on their first possession.
Newby started the drive with a 2-yard run, Armstrong followed with an 11-yard pass for a first down, then Newby saw a hole he could have jogged through untouched but bolted through for a 69-yard touchdown run — the first blow. The drive was three plays, 82 yards in 1:22.
“Big plays get everybody going on the team,” Newby said. “It would have been a different situation if we didn’t score and then maybe they go up. We want to respond whenever a team scores first.”
The Gophers fell behind 17-7 but pulled within a field goal, 17-14, after another 75-yard touchdown drive midway through the second quarter.
Then the Huskers responded with their second counter blow — their own 75-yard touchdown drive fueled by Reilly’s 34-yard reception on the first play of the possession.
Nebraska’s final and “demoralizing” blow was delivered early in the third quarter. Gophers punter Peter Mortell pinned the Huskers offense on its own 1-yard line, and it responded with a 10-play, 99-yard touchdown drive for a 31-14 cushion.
“We had to get out of a deep, deep hole,” Huskers offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said. “Just being able to sustain that drive … I think that’s demoralizing if you can do it to another defense. They have you pinned and feeling good and all the sudden you go turn it around and score. So it was a big part of the game.”