EAST LANSING, Mich. – Taylor Martinez lofted a pass up the right sideline toward Kenny Bell. Darqueze Dennard was back in coverage, the ball fell incomplete – and a flag was thrown for pass interference.
The only thing I can tell you is he was holding my left arm down, Bell said. Was I expecting a flag? No, just because we don’t get too many flags that often. I mean, Big Ten is tough on the perimeter as far as how physical it gets, and they’re pretty lenient, so no, I wasn’t expecting it.
Nebraska took advantage of that penalty, beating the Spartans 28-24 when Martinez threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jamal Turner with 6 seconds left Saturday. The call on Dennard gave the 21st-ranked Cornhuskers first down at the 5 with 17 seconds left – they would have had to settle for a tying field goal attempt if the incompletion had stood.
Turner’s touchdown capped a thrilling comeback in which the Cornhuskers scored two touchdowns in the final 7:02. Nebraska (7-2, 4-1) remains tied with Michigan atop the Big Ten Legends Division – and beat the Wolverines head to head.
I can’t believe that I won the game, said Turner, a sophomore. I’ve been dreaming about this my whole life.
It was the third time this season in conference play that Nebraska rallied from a double-digit deficit in the second half.
Le’Veon Bell ran for 188 yards and two touchdowns for Michigan State (5-5, 2-4).
Martinez rushed for 205 yards and two touchdowns, becoming Nebraska’s career leader in total offense. He also threw three interceptions, but was still standing at the end.
Early on in the game, I took a few shots to my head, Martinez said. We just keep fighting.
The Cornhuskers never led this one until the end, after they took over at their own 20 with 1:20 remaining and went 80 yards in nine plays.
Martinez kept the drive alive with a 38-yard pass to Kyler Reed to the Michigan State 20 on fourth-and-10. On third down from the 20, Martinez threw toward Kenny Bell, but Dennard was there to reach his right arm out and break up the pass.
The flag came out, giving Nebraska a new set of downs.
Who am I to judge? It didn’t look good, Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said.
Martinez found Turner on an out pattern at the left edge of the end zone.