Late interception sets up winning field goal in Nebraska’s 13-10 victory against NU

The Wildcats started Aidan Smith at quarterback instead of Hunter Johnson, who left last week’s game at Wisconsin with a lower-body injury.

SHARE Late interception sets up winning field goal in Nebraska’s 13-10 victory against NU
Wan’Dale Robinson

Wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson #1 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers races to the end zone for a touchdown ahead of linebacker Caleb Tannor #2 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on October 5, 2019 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

LINCOLN, Neb. — Lane McCallum kicked a 24-yard field goal as time ran out, giving Nebraska a 13-10 win in yet another close game against Northwestern on Saturday.

The Cornhuskers (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) won in a slog after Lamar Jackson intercepted Aidan Smith’s pass to set up the winning drive.

Noah Vedral, who played the fourth quarter in place of an injured Adrian Martinez, connected with Wan’Dale Robinson along the sideline for 32 yards and then ran twice to get to the 12 with 3 seconds left.

Northwestern (1-4, 0-3) called three timeouts before McCallum, who transferred from Air Force intending to play safety, put a low kick through from the left hash mark.

After the kick, McCallum sprinted toward the other end of the field. Teammates mobbed him and carried him off the field.

“I’m 44 years old, and I could have jumped as high as he kicked that, but it got through,” Nebraska coach Scott Frost said. “I think we were due a break somewhere. I’m happy for him. He made 2 out of 3, and that was enough.”

Nebraska’s kicking game has been plagued all season, since Barret Pickering went out with an undisclosed injury before the opener. McCallum took over the kicking duties from punter Isaac Armstrong, and the Huskers came into the day 2 of 7 on field goals.

McCallum made a 35-yard field goal to give Nebraska a 10-0 lead in the first half but his try from 29 yards in the fourth quarter hit the right upright and bounced away.

The Huskers are 5-4 against Northwestern since joining the Big Ten in 2011, and a total of 24 points separates the teams over the nine games.

The previous two games went to overtime, and seven of the nine meetings have been decided by one score.

“When you lose it on the last drive of the game, it’s pretty tough,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “They’ve been having trouble kicking, that’s no secret.”

The Huskers won with Martinez and top receiver JD Spielman on the sideline. Martinez got up limping after getting tackled at the end of a run on the last play of the third quarter. Spielman went out earlier in the third with a knee injury. Frost said he didn’t believe either injury was serious.

Northwestern, the Big Ten West defending champion, has lost three straight conference games for the first time since 2014. The Wildcats had a chance to take the lead in the middle of the fourth quarter, but Charlie Kuhbander missed a 34-yard field goal.

The teams combined for 19 punts as yards were hard to come by. The Huskers finished with 319 total yards and the Wildcats had 293.

Vedral said he had confidence in McCallum. Both grew up in the state and joined the team as walk-ons.

“I played basketball with him a long time,” Vedral said. “I know he has that clutch factor in him. I wasn’t too worried.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Northwestern: The Wildcats started Aidan Smith at quarterback instead of Hunter Johnson, who left last week’s game at Wisconsin with a lower-body injury. Johnson, who was in uniform, was not listed on the team’s injury report Thursday. Smith hit some big passes and had a few nice runs, but the Wildcats still struggled on offense. The defense, as usual, kept them in the game.

Nebraska: The Huskers desperately needed to win this game after getting humiliated by Ohio State at home last week. The status of Martinez isn’t known, but Vedral proved a capable replacement.

UP NEXT

Northwestern has an open date before hosting Ohio State on Oct.18.

Nebraska visits Minnesota on Oct. 12.

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