Nebraska scores 30 straight, upsets UCLA 37-29

The Sports Xchange

December 27, 2015 at 12:57 am.

Dec 26, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. (4) runs the ball against the UCLA Bruins in the 2nd quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 26, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. (4) runs the ball against the UCLA Bruins in the 2nd quarter at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

By Jake Curtis, The Sports Xchange

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Nebraska overcame an early 21-7 deficit and then held on to beat UCLA 37-29 on Saturday night in the Foster Farms Bowl before an announced crowd of 33,527 at Levi’s Stadium.

Nebraska (6-7) scored 30 consecutive points to take a 37-21 lead. UCLA (8-5) cut the margin to 37-29 on freshman quarterback Josh Rosen’s 9-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jordan Payton and two-point conversion pass to wide receiver Thomas Duarte.

On UCLA’s next possession, it had a first down at the Nebraska 17-yard line. But two incompletions and a bad snap on third down that pushed the ball back to the 28 led to a 46-yard field-goal try that kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn missed with 5:49 left in the game.

UCLA got to the Nebraska 32-yard line after that, but Cornhuskers defensive back Chris Jones intercepted Rosen’s fourth-down pass in the end zone.

Nebraska finished with a losing record for just the third time since 1961 but won three of its final four games, including an upset of Michigan State and a bowl victory.

The Cornhuskers did it by controlling the clock and the line of scrimmage. They rushed 62 times for 326 yards and held the ball for 38:15 compared with 21:45 for the Bruins, who rushed for 67 yards.

Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. was 12 of 19 for 179 passing yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. He also rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown.

Rosen finished 26 of 40 for 319 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Bruins running back Paul Perkins, who rushed for 1,275 yards during the regular season, was limited to 68 yards on the ground.

Nebraska took the lead for the first time at 27-21 early in the third quarter when wide receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. made a one-handed grab of Armstrong’s 22-yard touchdown pass. Drew Brown missed the extra point try, however.

A 20-yard Brown field goal increased the Nebraska lead to 30-21 after the Cornhuskers elected to kick the field goal rather than go for it on a fourth down with a half-yard to go.

A 4-yard Armstrong run put the Cornhuskers ahead 37-21 early in the fourth quarter.

Rosen was 13 of 17 for 181 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, which ended tied 21-21. He also threw an interception in the closing seconds of the second quarter.

Armstrong was 7 of 9 for 106 passing yards with no interceptions before halftime, and he added 34 yards on the ground.

UCLA took a 7-0 lead after it received the opening kickoff and drove 79 yards for a touchdown. Duarte’s 22-yard reception on a fourth-and-1 play from the Nebraska 23 set up Perkins’ 1-yard scoring run.

Nebraska tied the score 7-7 by going 75 yards for a touchdown on its first possession. Running back Imani Cross scored on a 1-yard run.

The Cornhuskers wasted a scoring opportunity on their second possession when Armstrong fumbled at the Bruins’ 14. Four plays after UCLA defensive back Jaleel Wadood recovered the fumble, Rosen threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Kenneth Walker to put the Bruins ahead 14-7.

UCLA increased its lead to 21-7 on Rosen’s 26-yard touchdown pass to running back Nate Starks.

Nebraska tied the score with touchdowns on its next two possessions. Running back Terrell Newby’s 3-yard touchdown run reduced the deficit to 21-14 and running back Andy Janovich scored from 1 yard with 52 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

NOTES: Nebraska S Nate Gerry was ejected after being penalized for targeting on his hit to UCLA RB Paul Perkins with 33 seconds left in the first half. … UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone was hospitalized last week because of a blood clot in his lung, according to Bruin Report Online, but he was able to call the offensive plays on Saturday. … With a losing record, Nebraska would not have landed a bowl berth in previous years. But with a record 80 teams needed to fill all the bowl slots this season, the Huskers were one of three 5-7 squads that received a bowl berth based on Academic Progress Rates. … Nebraska LB Marcus Newby did not play because of a groin injury.