Lincoln, NE (SportsNetwork.com) – The 17th-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers
overcame the loss of Heisman Trophy candidate Ameer Abdullah to post a 35-14
win over the Purdue Boilermakers on Saturday.
Abdullah, who entered the weekend the nation’s leading rusher with 1,249
yards, suffered a sprained left knee in the first quarter.
Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini is calling it a mild sprain, adding Abdullah has
a bruise, but is optimistic.
The Cornhuskers (8-1, 4-1 Big Ten) are off next week before playing at
Wisconsin on Nov. 15.
Imani Cross rushed for 66 yards and two touchdowns in Abdullah’s absence.
Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. had a touchdown pass and ran for
another score, but threw two interceptions. He completed only 8-of-21
attempts for 118 yards while finishing with 70 yards on the ground.
Austin Appleby completed 18-of-46 passes for 216 yards with a touchdown and
two interceptions for Purdue (3-6, 1-4), which made its first trip to Lincoln.
It was a rough start for the Boilermakers, who had a punt blocked after going
three-and-out on the game’s opening series.
Nebraska began its first drive at the Purdue 17, and Armstrong hooked up with
De’Mornay Pierson-El for a touchdown on the second play.
Abdullah was hurt on the next Nebraska possession while diving to recover a
fourth-down fumble by Armstrong at the Purdue 2-yard line. He returned with a
brace over his knee and rushed once more for a 5-yard loss later in the first
quarter before departing again for good.
The Boilermakers went three-and-out on each of their first four drives and
were held to one first down in the opening quarter, but they were on the move
early in the second stanza.
Purdue caught a break when Byerson Cockrell fumbled after picking off Appleby.
Wide receiver Dan Monteroso made the recovery at the Nebraska 32, and Appleby
atoned for the miscue by running for a 25-yard touchdown on a QB draw.
Nebraska answered with an eight-play drive capped by Cross’ 2-yard TD run, and
following a second blocked punt, Armstrong scored on a 29-yard run on 4th-
and-4 to make it 21-7.
The Cornhuskers’ defense then made a big play prior to halftime as Nate Gerry
intercepted an Appleby pass in the end zone.
Armstrong was picked off near the goal line on the first drive of the third
quarter, but Nebraska was able to extend its lead on 1-yard TD run by Cross
with 4:19 left in the period.
A breakdown in coverage left Cameron Posey uncovered in the end zone, and he
caught a 23-yard touchdown pass for Purdue early in the fourth quarter.
The Boilermakers’ comeback hopes were strengthened when Armstrong was
intercepted a second time by Landon Feichter with 9:32 remaining.
Purdue started from the Nebraska 36, but gained only five yards before Appleby
threw incomplete on fourth down.
The Boilermakers wound up turning the ball over on downs on their final four
Terrell Newby had a 7-yard TD run for Nebraska with two minutes to play.
Nebraska blocked two punts in a game for the first time since Oct. 25, 2003
against Iowa State … Purdue’s Akeem Hunt had 66 yards on 21 carries and
caught a game-high seven passes for 43 yards … The Cornhuskers have won two
of the three meetings in the series.