Alonzo Moore

Nebraska special teams comes up with big play for first half cushion

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Nebraska football players may be struggling to stay on the field, but the Huskers are looking to bounce back after a bad loss at Wisconsin to remain in the Big Ten west title hunt. Minnesota is also looking to rebound off a loss to Ohio State, and the Gophers have done well in slowing down the Nebraska running game. But the Huskers own the 21-7 lead at the half, and they have the special teams to thank for padding the lead.

Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah has not had much of an impact on the game so far, looking to be playing at under 100 percent. He did, however, open the scoring with a short touchdown run to finish off a quick five-play, 84-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter. Minnesota responded later in the first quarter when Mitch Leidner picked up a short touchdown run from one yard out to cap a nine-play, 71-yard answer.

Nebraska took a lead on a catch by De’Mornay Pierson-El. Pierson-El caught a pass from Armstrong just shy of the end zone, reached for the goal line and barely got the ball to break the goal line before losing control of the football. Minnesota pounced on the loose ball, but Big Ten officials ruled the touchdown good and instant replay upheld the call on the field.

Minnesota had a chance to cut into the lead later in the second quarter, but a 30-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Nebraska’s Randy Gregory and returned by Nate Gerry for a touchdown. The play turned out to be a 10-point swing and turned a potential four-point game into a 14-point game. Adding to the impact of the play was the fact

Nebraska wide receiver Kenny Bell had to be taken off the field by medical trainers in the first quarter. Bell appeared to leave for a head injury at the end of a 73-yard pass play. Late in the first half, Abdullah needed assistance as well. Given his recent history, the concern has to be pretty high at the half.

Randy Gregory walked off the field with medical trainers late in the first quarter. He did return in the second quarter.