West Lafayette, Ind. – Tanner Lee threw a 13-yard touchdown strike to Stanley Morgan Jr with 14 seconds left to bring Nebraska all the way back from a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to earn a 25-24 victory over Purdue at Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday night.
The throw completed a big night for Lee, who completed 32-of-50 passes for 431 yards and a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns. He did not throw an interception, and Nebraska played turnover-free football throughout the game.
The victory helped the Huskers improve to 4-4 overall and 3-2 in the Big Ten, while Purdue slipped to 3-5 and 1-4 in the conference.
Morgan was one of two Husker receivers to reach the 100-mark on the night. He hauled in six receptions for 112 yards including his game-winning score, while tight end Tyler Hoppes added five receptions for 105 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown catch with 11:03 left in the game that pulled the Huskers within 24-19.
Seven different Huskers hauled in at least one pass on the night, including five players who each recorded five or more receptions. Freshman wide receiver JD Spielman brought down six catches for 70 yards, and De’Mornay Pierson-El contributed five catches for 62 yards.
Running back Devine Ozigbo grabbed six catches for 39 yards, while freshman Jaylin Bradley also played a major role for the Huskers in the second half with three receptions for 31 yards out of the backfield.
Bradley led Nebraska’s ground game with seven carries for 42 yards in the second half, after the Huskers managed just eight rushing yards on 15 carries in the first half.
Overall, Nebraska put up 471 yards of total offense, while the Blackshirts held Purdue to 363 total yards. The Boilermakers found their most success on the ground, amassing 199 rushing yards on 38 carries, compared to 40 yards on 27 rushes for the Huskers.
But Nebraska’s secondary kept the Purdue passing game in check, holding quarterback David Blough to 164 yards on 16-of-28 passing. Lamar Jackson led the Blackshirts with eight solo stops on the night, while Joshua Kalu added six solo tackles.
Despite Nebraska’s struggles to move the ball on the ground, the Huskers still controlled the time of possession, 34:36-25:24 on the night.
Purdue’s ground game, fueled by 89 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown from Richie Worship, helped the Boilermakers build a 24-12 lead early in the fourth quarter. Blough helped with 33 yards and a touchdown on seven carries, before his 14-yard touchdown pass to Jackson Anthrop with 14:23 left in the game improved the Boilers’ grip on the game.
But Nebraska refused to quit on either side of the ball, as the Blackshirts shut out the Boilermakers the rest of the way, and the offense not only came up with a pair of touchdown passes, it also took the Huskers into the red zone on another drive that eventually ended unsuccessfully with a fourth-down pass attempt into the end zone to Spielman with approximately three minutes left.
Through the first three quarters, senior place-kicker Drew Brown was the only Husker to put any points on the scoreboard. His four field goals pulled him into a tie with his older brother, Kris, for 57 in his career. More importantly, his kicks of 44, 21, 37 and 25 yards kept Nebraska within striking distance after four Nebraska drives stalled inside the Purdue red zone.
The Huskers trailed 14-6 at halftime after struggling to move the ball on the ground in the opening half. Nebraska managed just eight rushing yards on 15 carries, while Purdue countered with 123 rushing yards on 21 carries to average nearly six yards per tote in the first half.
Through the air, Lee completed 11-of-20 first-half passes for 143 yards, while the Huskers limited Blough to just 58 yards on 7-of-14 passes.
However, Blough had four carries for nine yards, including Purdue’s second touchdown run just before halftime. Worship, who led the Boilermakers with nine carries for 65 yards and their first touchdown run, did the most damage for Purdue in the first half. Purdue entered the game with just five rushing touchdowns on the season.
Nebraska struck first on a 44-yard Brown field goal just 3:18 into the game to give the Huskers a 3-0 lead. That was the only scoring in the first quarter, before the Boilermakers got Worship’s four-yard scroing run with 12:30 left in the second quarter to cap a 45-yard drive. Purdue started that drive with great field position on Nebraska’s half of the field after the Huskers failed to convert on a 4th-and-1.
Following Purdue’s score, Nebraska answered with a 21-yard field goal by Brown with 7:30 left in the half. The Huskers had a chance to put a touchdown on the board but a quick slant from Lee to Pierson-El was not completed on third down.
Blough’s five-yard scoring run with 24 seconds left in the half capped a 12-play Purdue drive that covered 86 yards and sent the Boilermakers to the locker room with a 14-6 halftime edge.
Nebraska cut the margin to 14-9 on the opening drive of the third quarter on Brown’s 37-yard field goal to cap a 55-yard drive. But Purdue pushed the margin back to 17-9 with a 20-yard field goal from Spencer Evans with 6:24 left in the quarter. Brown closed the third-quarter scoring with a 25-yard field goal with 2:06 left to cap a 67-yard Husker drive and make it 17-12 Boilermakers heading into the final period.
It didn’t take Purdue long to take its biggest lead of the night, as Blough’s scoring strike to Anthrop came just 37 seconds into the fourth quarter and put Purdue up 24-12. But Lee’s fourth-quarter heroics helped send the Huskers home happy on an otherwise dreary night in Indiana.
Nebraska returns to home Big Ten action at Memorial Stadium next Saturday when the Huskers host Northwestern. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. (CT)