Devine Ozigbo rushed for a career-high 170 yards on 17 carries with two touchdowns and Adrian Martinez put up his first career 300-yard passing game, but the Nebraska football team came up short in a 42-28 setback to Purdue Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Martinez, making his second home start of his career, accounted for 414 yards of total offense (323 passing, 91 rushing), as Nebraska racked up a season-high 582 yards of total offense as a team, outdistancing the Boilermakers’ high-powered offense 582-516. It marked the third consecutive home game that Nebraska out-yarded the opposition but came up on the wrong end of the scoreboard. In fact, the Huskers are averaging 115.7 more yards of total offense per game than their three opponents at Memorial Stadium.
Martinez completed 25-of-42 passes with two touchdowns and one interception. In addition to the big days for Martinez and the senior running back Ozigbo, sophomore wide receiver JD Spielman hauled in 10 catches for 135 yards and a pair of 21-yard touchdown receptions, while senior wide receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. contributed 69 yards on four receptions.
Junior linebacker Mohamed Barry led the Blackshirts with 11 tackles – his third game with double-digit tackles this season – while senior safety Aaron Williams pitched in eight tackles for the Huskers. Dedrick Young II, Dicaprio Bootle and Khalil Davis each added seven tackles. Bootle also contributed three pass breakups for the Big Red, who slipped to 0-4 overall and 0-2 in the Big Ten.
Senior quarterback David Blough led Purdue, completing 25-of-42 passes for 328 yards and one touchdown. Tight end Brycen Hopkins led the Boilermakers with five catches for 103 yards, while Rondale Moore added eight receptions for 85 yards. D.J. Knox led the Purdue ground game with 87 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, while Markell Jones added 59 yards on 14 carries with one score. Purdue improved to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the conference.
For the game, Nebraska put up 259 rushing yards, while Purdue ran for 188 yards on the day. One of the day’s biggest stats came in the penalty department, where the Huskers were flagged 11 times for 136 yards, while Purdue committed 10 penalties for 75 yards.
Nebraska started fast, winning the coin toss and marching 75 yards on 10 plays after the opening kickoff. The drive was capped by Ozigbo’s 18-yard touchdown run to give Nebraska a 7-0 lead, as the Huskers scored for the first time this season on their opening drive.
Purdue answered quickly, going 71 yards on six plays, including a 42-yard touchdown run by D.J. Knox to tie the game with 7:57 left in the first quarter.
Nebraska’s second drive stalled, and Purdue produced points on its second possession, punctuating a five-play, 45-yard drive with a Spencer Evans 31-yard field goal to take a 10-7 lead into the second quarter.
Purdue extended the lead to 20-7 with 10 more points in the second quarter while silencing the Husker offense. The Boilermakers extended the margin to 27-7 early in the third quarter before Nebraska rallied.
Wyatt Mazour sparked the Huskers with a 21-yard return on Purdue’s pooch kickoff. The Boilermakers were also offsides on the kick, putting the Huskers at the NU 47 to start the drive. Ozigbo started the drive with a quick nine-yard blast. Three plays later, Martinez sprinted 16 yards on a key 3rd-and-5 conversion to set up his 21-yard touchdown pass to Spielman to cut Purdue’s margin to 27-14 with 6:18 left in third quarter.
But the Boilermakers responded with a 90-yard touchdown drive in eight plays that concluded with Knox’s second touchdown run of the day – this time from six yards out to push Purdue’s lead back to 34-14 with 3:24 left in the third.
The Big Red offense refused to quick. Martinez connected with Morgan on a 26-yard pass on the first play of the ensuing drive. On the next play, two Boilermaker defensive backs interfered with Morgan moving Nebraska 15 yards closer to the goal line. After a quick completion to Ozigbo for another first down, Martinez hooked up with Spielman for their second 21-yard touchdown pass in four minutes to pull the Huskers within 35-21 with 2:32 left in the quarter.
Nebraska’s defense was in position to stop Purdue on the ensuing drive, forcing a 3rd-and-20 by the Boilermakers near midfield. But Purdue picked up a conversion when Freedom Akinmoladun was flagged for roughing the passer while being blocked in the back into Blough. Purdue scored three plays later to extend the lead to 42-21 on the opening play of the fourth quarter.
Martinez and the offense kept attacking, flying 75 yards in just plays, capped by Ozigbo’s second scoring run of the day, this time from 23 yards out to pull the Big Red within 42-28.
In the last 12 minutes, the Blackshirts produced four straight stops, but Martinez and the offense were unable to produce more points despite penetrating Purdue territory three times.
Nebraska returns to Big Ten road action next week at Wisconsin. Kick-off between the Big Red and the Badgers is set for 6:30 p.m. with live television coverage by BTN.