MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — After escaping an almost embarrassing loss, Miami Hurricanes coach Al Golden was asked what the difference was in the fourth quarter collapse by his team. Instead of giving the press a what, he gave them a who.
“That guy...give so much credit to (Tommy) Armstrong,” Golden said. “He played all over the place. He got out of the pocket, was 10-15 yards deep sometimes, ran around and just made plays.
“He’s a warrior.”
Golden had to single out the Husker player who was holding the dynamite that almost blew up in Miami’s face.
Armstrong led a 23-point comeback against the Hurricanes to force overtime. If the Huskers won the game, it would’ve been the largest comeback in school history.
While the late numbers for him were impressive, Armstrong had his struggles in the first half.
He completed 7-of-15 passes, just under 50 percent, for 65 yards. No touchdowns. It was the worst half he’s had so far this season.
In the second half, Armstrong threw for 244 yards and four touchdowns, three of them coming in the fourth quarter.
Junior wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp, who had the most catches in the game, owed the turnaround to his quarterback.
“Tommy (Armstrong) as our leader, he’s got to be the one who stays positive,” Westerkamp said. “It’s gonna rub off on everybody. He was so poised throughout the game and kept the positive attitude going, and that’s what brought us back.”
In the final 10 minutes of regulation at Sun Life Stadium, Armstrong made three touchdown passes. The last one was the one that gave the team high hopes of overtime, only the 10th time in school history.
Armstrong drops back and makes an 8-yard touchdown pass to true freshman wide receiver Stanley Morgan. Then, it was time to tie it up, two-point conversion time.
Armstrong scrambles, and before being brought down by a Miami defender, hits Westerkamp in the endzone to tie the game with 33 seconds left on the clock.
“A lot of misdirection in that play,” Westerkamp said. “It’s a great play. High completion percentage. Tommy made a great read and fired it in there.”
With Hurricane fans booing and Husker fans cheering, Westerkamp and his teammates were ready to get back on the field in overtime.
“We were freaking out,” Westerkamp said. “Here at the U, it’s pretty crazy.”
On the very first play of overtime, though, Armstrong gets intercepted, which set up an easy chip of a field goal to seal the win for Miami.
After the game, no fingers were pointed at No. 4.
“On offense, Tommy (Armstrong) battled in this game,” Westerkamp said. “He had a great game. We feed off that on the offense. It was great to see Tommy continue to fight.”
Armstrong had 358 of Nebraska’s 462 yards of total offense. The big day slotted him in front of Jerry Tagge, Joe Ganz and Tommie Frazier on the career total offense list. He’s now fourth on the all-time list.
Westerkamp, who is also Armstrong’s roommate, said he sees rare traits in his quarterback.
“He’s a huge competitor; one of the most competitive people I’ve ever been around,” Westerkamp said.
The coaches and players had high praise for Armstrong after his performance, but if you ask him, there’s still a lot to work on.
“I’m going to learn from it myself as a leader and make sure I fix it and move on to next week,” Armstrong said.
Next week, Nebraska will host Southern Mississippi in the annual homecoming game. Leading the Huskers will still be the “warrior” who coach Golden described after almost falling victim to him.