FB vs Minnesota-SB 4326FB vs Minnesota-SB 4326

Huskers Fall as Time Expires at Minnesota

Minneapolis - Nebraska's defense provided an outstanding effort, but a 47-yard walk-off field goal by Minnesota's Dragan Kesich lifted the Golden Gophers to a 13-10 come-from-behind victory over the Huskers at Huntington Bank Stadium on Thursday night in the season opener for both teams.

Minnesota capitalized on a pair of Nebraska turnovers in the final five minutes after the Huskers built a 10-3 lead and the ball near midfield late in the fourth quarter after outscoring the Gophers 10-0 in the first 25 minutes of the second half.

Nebraska finished the night with 181 rushing yards and 114 passing yards, while holding the Gophers to just 55 on the ground and 196 through the air. The Huskers outgained Minnesota 295-261 on the night, but a 4-1  turnover edge by the Gophers was enough to doom the Big Red.

Game Highlights

Quarterback Jeff Sims finished the night 11-of-19 through the air for 114 yards, while adding a team-best 91 rushing yards on 19 carries. Gabe Ervin Jr. added 55 yards on seven carries, while Anthony Grant contributed nine carries for 27 yards.

Alex Bullock led the Husker receivers with three receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown, while Marcus Washington added three catches for 31 yards. 

Daishon Singleton and Omar Brown led a gritty Blackshirt defensive effort with seven tackles apiece, while Brown added an interception. Nash Hutmacher, Blaise Gunnerson and Luke Reimer all contributed sacks for the Husker defense to just 251 yards on 69 offensive plays.

The decisive turnover came with less than one minute left and Nebraska moving the ball in hopes of a walk-off score of its own. A Sims pass over the middle intended for Nate Boerkircher was intercepted by Minnesota's Tyler Nuben - his second of the game - at the Gopher 35 with 58 seconds remaining.

Minnesota then moved the ball quickly to the Nebraska 35, hoping to push the ball a few yards closer for the strong leg of Kesich. But the Gophers were flagged for a false start to set up 3rd-and-13 at NU 40 with 17 seconds left. The Gophers overcame the mistake with an 11-yard run by Sean Tyler to set up Kesich's 47-yard field goal as time expired. Tyler finished with 10 carries for 41 yards to lead to the Minnesota running game.

The whole exchange may have been impossible had the Big Red not suffered a lost fumble from Grant with 4:53 left that was forced by Justin Walley and recovered Aidan Gousby at the Minnesota 47.

Just over two minutes later, quarterback Aithan Kaliakmanos kept Minnesota's hopes alive by connecting with Daniel Jackson on a spectacular 13-yard touchdown on the left side of the end zone to convert on 4th-and-10 with 2:32 remaining in the game. Kesich's PAT tied the score at 10. 

Kaliakmanos finished the night 24-of-44 passing for 196 yards with one touchdown and one interception while being sacked three times. Jackson led the Gopher receivers with nine receptions for 68 yards while Corey Crooms added seven receptions for 63 yards.


In a low-scoring Big Ten slugfest, Nebraska scored its first touchdown of the season on back-to-back huge plays to open the second half.

Rahmir Johnson electrified the thousands of Nebraska fans who followed the Big Red on the road to Minneapolis on with a 63-yard kickoff return to start the half after going to halftime trailing 3-0.

On the first play from scrimmage following Johnson's return, Sims pitched the ball to the right to Grant, who threw a lateral back to Sims in the left flat that bounded to the turf. Sims gave chase, gathered the ball and then threw deep for a 34-yard touchdown to an uncovered Alex Bullock standing alone in the end zone.

Freshman place-kicker Tristan Alvano then connected on the first PAT of his career to give Nebraska a 7-3 lead less than 20 seconds into the third quarter.

Nebraska's defense continued to play lights out for the rest of the quarter, including a crucial interception by cornerback Omar Brown late in the period after the Golden Gophers threatened the Husker red zone.

The Big Red moved the ball effectively late in the period and took the 7-3 edge to fourth quarter after penetrating the Minnesota red zone.

The Huskers pushed inside the Gopher 5, but could not punch it in the end zone. Alvano came on to boot the first field goal of his career, connecting from 27 yards with 12:42 left to extend NU's edge to 10-3.

The Husker defense continued to out-physical the Minnesota offense for the next 10-plus minutes until the turnovers came back to cost the Cornhuskers. 

In a low-scoring first half, Minnesota's offensive was able to maintain possession by converting on repeated 3rd-and-long situations. But the Blackshirt defense limited the damage by surrendering just a 34-yard, second-quarter field goal to Kesich with 12:41 remaining the first half.

After Kesich missed a second field goal attempt for the Gophers from 54 yards out with 3:34 left in the second quarter, Sims march Nebraska down to the goal line. In fact, the Huskers appeared to have a go-ahead touchdown from Gabe Ervin Jr. on a 1st-and-Goal blast from the Minnesota 4, but Ervin was ruled short of the goal line. Upon review, it appeared that the nose of the ball cross the front of the goal line before Ervin's right elbow hit the ground, but the call on the field stood.

The review after Nebraska quickly gathered to try and pound the ball into the end zone on 2nd-and-Goal in the closing seconds before time expired, but the Huskers were flagged for a false start to move the ball back to the 6.  After a Nebraska timeout to avoid a 10-second runoff, a Sims pass was intercepted by Nuben in the end zone.

Nebraska missed a golden opportunity to take a lead to the halftime when a short Sims pass was intercepted in the end zone. 

The Huskers return to road action next Saturday when they travel Colorado to take on the Buffaloes. Kick-off at Folsom Field is set for 11 a.m. (CT) with live national television coverage on FOX.

Postgame Press Conference