#5 Nebraska (8-7) moves on after 11th game of season decided in final minute
For a game that started out with three straight quarters of scoring, the defenses stepped up in a hurry.
With ten minutes to go in regulation and the Blizzard up 40-39, Danger QB Tommy Armstrong was stuffed on fourth and goal on the Green Bay 1. It was the first stop of the game for either side.
The stop required back-to-back tackles of the tough quarterback run option that was so successful in the first half. Green Bay wasn’t able to stop it, with the first three scores by Nebraska coming from the play call.
Both teams ended up having a turnover on downs on their next drives. Nebraska missed a field goal. Then Green Bay lost a fumble on a bobbled snap.
But off that Lenorris Footman fumble, Danger Tailback Davonte Sapp-Lynch bounced to the left for the only score of the fourth quarter. It would be the game winner, as Nebraska won 45-40 in Green Bay to open the IFL playoffs.
Green Bay looked to be formulating another comeback after a return and penalty put the ball at their own 24. A quick pass to Kezlow Smith set up a first and goal with 9.8 seconds remaining in the game. After two throwaways, the defensive play of the game came from wide-receiver-converted-to-defensive-back Gregory Dent, as the Danger’s leader in receiving touchdowns deflected a sure touchdown away on third down and 2.7 seconds remaining. Green Bay’s final pass was out of bounds to end the game.
Dramatic finishes have been nothing out of the usual for the Danger, as they lost four games in the final drive. They also won their last game of the season against Iowa in the final moments and stopped Green Bay on goal-to-goal situations in both their victories against the Blizzard.
BJ Hill started the scoring for the home side with a skinny post-and-stop from Lenorris Footman on that opening drive.
Nebraska took the opening kickoff down to the Green Bay 4-yard-line, but the Blizzard defense from last week’s shutout came out strong in response. Silverberry Mouhon made two straight tackles for a loss on running plays to move the ball back to the 12. Nebraska went for it on the fourth down and Armstrong punched it in to take the early lead.
Armstrong ended up 12-14 for 79 yards and one passing touchdown, but four on the ground with only a net of 14 yards. John Jackson led the Danger in receptions and yards with five for 42 and a long of 15.
Footman went 17 of 27 for 159 yards and a score. He also had 42 yards on the ground with two touchdowns. Hill had a touchdown catch and rush each.
With the win, Nebraska tied the season series 2-2.
The Nebraska Danger will wait for their next opponent, pending the Tucson Sugar Skulls/Sioux Falls Storm game. If Sioux Falls wins, Nebraska will take on Arizona Rattlers. If Tucson wins, the Danger head to Iowa.
For Green Bay, their most successful season in seven years ends with a home playoff loss. The team finished 9-6 for their 2019 campaign.
Writer’s Note: Dexter Christian, the Green Bay equipment manager was recognized in pregame ceremonies. After 17 years with the squad, Christian retired after the game. He was put to work halfway through the second quarter when the down marker broke. Known as “Dex” by the team, Christian often spent player warmups tossing extra game balls with young fans. AFT thanks Christian for his work enriching the game experience for players and fans alike in his years with the Blizzard.
Photo credit: Cormac McInnis, Green Bay Blizzard photographer www.cormacmcinnisphotography.com