Recap: Nebraska vs. Illinois
Lincoln, NE (SportsNetwork.com) - Behind a career-high 225 rushing yards from Ameer Abdullah, the Nebraska Cornhuskers earned a 39-19 win over the Illinois Fighting Illini in each team's Big Ten Conference opener at Memorial Stadium.
Abdullah also scored two touchdowns and has now rushed for at least 100 yards in four of five games this season for Nebraska (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten), which has won back-to-back games. Tommy Armstrong, Jr. filled in for an injured Taylor Martinez under center, completing 8-of-13 passes for 135 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Quincy Enunwa (80 yards) and Kenny Bell (65 yards) each had four receptions and a touchdown.
For Illinois (3-2, 0-1), Josh Ferguson rushed for a career-high 114 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Nathan Scheelhaase disappointed by completing 13- of-26 passes for 135 yards with an interception. He was replaced late by Reilly O'Toole, who was 3-of-5 for 42 yards. Ferguson also led all receivers with eight catches and 82 yards.
Nebraska got the scoring started early when Abdullah rushed in a two-yard touchdown less than four minutes into the game. Armstrong, Jr. added a four- yard touchdown pass to Enunwa later in the first quarter to put the Cornhuskers up 14-0.
The Cornhuskers padded their lead early in the second quarter when Pat Smith connected on a 27-yard field goal. Illinois put its first points on the board a few minutes later when Taylor Zalewski knocked through a 38-yard field goal.
Imani Cross rushed in a two-yard touchdown for Nebraska at the 4:18 mark of the second quarter. Following a failed extra point attempt, the score remained 23-3 in favor of the Cornhuskers.
After pinning Nebraska deep in their own territory late in the first half, the Illini made the score 23-5 after Houston Bates tackled Cross in the end zone for a safety.
Any momentum Illinois may have gained at the end of the half was squashed early in the third quarter after the Cornhuskers scored on a 43-yard touchdown rush by Abdullah.
The Illini scored their first touchdown of the game with 5:54 left in the third when Donovonn Young plunged into the end zone from one yard out.
Armstrong, Jr. tossed his second touchdown pass of the day at the 2:44 mark of the third quarter when he hooked up with Bell on a 37-yard strike, although the Cornhuskers had yet another failed PAT.
In the fourth quarter, Pat Smith added a 32-yard field goal for Nebraska. With the game out of reach in the final minute, Illinois put up one last score on a one-yard touchdown rush by Ferguson.
Although both teams made 24 first downs, Nebraska had a sizable advantage in total yards, 521-372.Game Notes