WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Amid the sometimes chaotic nature of Saturday's game, Sam Keller found something beautiful in Nebraska's 20-17 win over Wake Forest.
The Cornhusker senior quarterback considered the two-minute drill his team executed at the end of the first half a highlight in a game otherwise lacking big plays.
"It's a character win," Keller said. "It's a fight. It's not a game where it's a big shootout. It's not a game where everything is working. It's a game where problems happen, and we all just say, 'We're going to win.' "
The score flopped back and forth between NU and the Demon Deacons until the final whistle at Groves Stadium. By the end there had been four lead changes and 12 consecutive scoreless drives to end the game.
Keller was the perfect example of the Huskers' ups and downs. He passed for 258 yards but committed a fumble and two interceptions.
While his second drive of the first quarter led to a field goal that gave Nebraska an early 3-0 lead, his fumble on the Nebraska 42-yard line gave the Demon Deacons the ball, which led to a field goal at the beginning of the second quarter.
The Huskers tallied another three points on a 22-yard field goal by freshman Alex Henery, but Wake Forest answered with a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Brett Hodges.
Behind 10-6, the Huskers regained procession with 2 minutes, 2 seconds left in the half.
At third-and-nine on the Nebraska 22-yard line, Keller connected with junior wide receiver Nate Swift for 10 yards to convert the first down and then with junior I-back Marlon Lucky for 15 yards. He continued to find success in the air, hitting senior wide receiver Terrence Nunn twice, senior wide receiver Frantz Hardy and junior tight end Hunter Teafatiller once, and finally senior tight end Sean Hill for a 25-yard touchdown - Hill's first career reception.
"It was beautiful," Keller said. "I was proud of all the guys. The protection was great. The guys were in the right spots. You know, the holes in their defense, we always had somebody there so it was a matter of finding it and being in rhythm. It was a good touchdown to get before halftime."
But the Deacons were not shaken.
Thanks to two runs for a combined 43 yards by Kenneth Moore, Wake Forest made its way downfield on the first drive of the second half for their final score of the game.
The Huskers once again answered as Lucky notched six points on a 22-yard touchdown run.
Each team missed out on scoring chances in the closing stages of the game.
"If you go back into that late second quarter in the two-minute drill, that's where I thought (Keller) really emerged and made some outstanding plays under duress," NU Coach Bill Callahan said. "There are two plays I think he'd like to have back, but besides that, I think he played well throughout the course of the game."
Keller's second interception came with 10:14 left in the game. But senior cornerback Zackary Bowman's interception in Wake Forest's end zone followed on the Deacons' next drive and allowed the Huskers to run the clock down to under two minutes.
Despite a few mistakes, Keller said the Husker offense showed promise.
"Sometimes there may be an error throw, or a guy just slips in his route, or the ball is a little bit over-thrown, or there's a drop," Keller said. "If we can eliminate those and all be on the same page, then it's just a beautiful thing."