Nebraska was about to enter overtime with less than a minute to play against the McNeese State Cowboys at Memorial stadium on Saturday.
Then, Ameer Abdullah took over.
The play sent the receivers down the field on vertical routes, while Abdullah went out to the flat.
According to offensive coordinator Tim Beck, the plan was to get Abdullah the ball, so he could get some open space and then a first down.
The senior running back found the space he needed after he broke five tackles on his way into the end zone.
The late-game score gave the Huskers a 31 -24 win against the Cowboys.
“Ameer put the team on his back and won the game,” Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. “Thank God for Ameer today. He showed why he is who he is.”
Abdullah and the offense had been close to shut down in the second half of Saturday’s game. The squad mustered 140 yards in the second half with 58 of those yards on Abdullah’s touchdown.
“We didn’t execute,” Beck said. “We got out executed today.”
After rushing for 232 yards last weekend, Abdullah ran for just 54 yards against the Cowboys. The defensive line for the Cowboys seemed to be able to blow up the run throughout the game.
“They did a heck of a job against our running game,” Abdullah said. “I expect teams to key in on me.”
Abdullah also said sophomore quarterback Tommy Armstrong will need to be efficient for the rest of the year. The quarterback racked up 131 yards on the ground and 242 yards through the air, but he did throw an interception that was returned 98 yards for a touchdown.
“Poor read, poor throw,” Pelini said.
The receiving core for the Huskers took a couple hits early in the game when seniors Kenny Bell and Jamal Turner left the game with injuries.
Pelini said Bell pulled his groin and is listed as day-to-day, while Turner tore his Achilles tendon and will be out.
With those two receivers out, most of the attention went to sophomore Jordan Westerkamp.
The wide receiver managed four receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown on the day.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Huskers allowed 232 yards in the second half alone.
That amount could have been much greater if McNeese State didn’t have as many dropped passes from open receivers.
“That would be one of the cases where adjustment wasn’t handled well,” Nebraska defensive coordinator John Papuchis said. “He (opposing running back) was open a bunch, and they didn’t catch it anytime. I don’t know how lucky you can be, but they never caught it. I guess it was a little luck on our side. We’re not going to count on that next time.”
McNeese State had momentum in the fourth quarter, when the squad took 13 plays to get the ball to the Nebraska two-yard line.
The Cowboys tried a counter run, the same play they scored on in the first quarter, but the Husker defense snuffed the play for a loss of five.
This forced the Cowboys to settle for a field goal and the tie.
Then, after an offensive possession by each team, Abdullah carried the Huskers to eke out the 7-point win.
“Obviously, it was a good feeling, but I also had a sense of things,” Pelini said. “At that point I was pretty disgusted with our football team. And, like I said, one thing I can tell you is that it starts right here. I promise you that.”