Huskers win on Hail Mary pass

LINCOLN — Nebraska redshirt freshman receiver Jordan Westerkamp has never seen the Matt Davison miracle catch at Missouri in 1997 that sealed Nebraska's road to Tom Osborne's third national championship.

Heck, he didn't even see who tipped the ball that allowed him to make a dramatic, game-winning, diving catch in the south end zone at Memorial Stadium against Northwestern in Lincoln Saturday.

Senior quarterback Ron Kellogg said he didn't see the end of the play after he flung the ball 49 yards on a Hail Mary pass. He was kicked in the head by a lineman and heard nothing but the roar of the crowd of 91,000-plus in pandemonium.
Defensive coordinator John Papuchis recalled a conversation he had with defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski right after offensive coaches called the final play.

"I'm serious, I told him Jordan Westerkamp is going to catch this ball," Papuchis said.
Westerkamp said receivers coach Rick Fisher told his receivers they're going to have to make a play to win the game — and so they did.

Kellogg said he remembers throwing the ball as far as he could — a play Nebraska worked on in preseason practice.

On the play, Westerkamp positioned himself toward the middle/back of the end zone, readying himself to catch a tip ball. Once the ball reached the crowd of defenders and Husker receivers, it caromed off the hands of Quincy Enunwa as Westerkamp dove.

"I didn't even know I could throw it that far," Kellogg said. "I'm still stunned about it. People are still asking me what I did, and I don't know."

Nebraska players rushed the field en masse and afterwards Westerkamp made his way to his family sitting in the stands.

"I remembered the guys on defense running back to the front of the end zone," Westerkamp said. "It still really hasn't hit me. It will be a memorable play but take it for what it was. I didn't know where I was at first, so I reached back with the ball to make sure I was in (the endzone).

"I'll enjoy it and move on and get ready for Michigan."

Westerkamp grew up about a 45-minute drive from the Northwestern campus in Chicago and was recruited by the Wildcats.

Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini said the game will serve as a lesson for his young team.

The Huskers were down to just seconds in a game filled with mistakes and missed opportunities. Nebraska was 83 yards from the end zone, with no timeouts and just 1:14 to play.

Pelini said coaches knew Kellogg would be the best quarterback to run a two-minute drill in Taylor Martinez' absence.

"That's what college football is all about," Pelini said. "Those kids will remember that game for the rest of their lives. It's about character. You just can't give up. If you don't fight, then you're not giving yourselves a chance."

Though the last play was big for Nebraska, what may be lost in Husker history was when I back Ameer Abdullah caught a pass from Kellogg and made a number of moves to gain a needed 15 yards on a fourth-down play to keep that final miracle drive alive. Without that conversion Nebraska would be licking its wounds from a second-consecutive loss.
Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald said he felt sick to his stomach on the game's final play.

"Yeah, I mean I watched the Cats win on one of those on TV before, it's a tough deal," he said. "I feel for our guys. They fought, scratched and clawed — and again, maybe I should have done something different at any point in the game. I didn't, it's on me. Obviously, we can't keep doing this."

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