Controversial Call Slows Gophers

The Gophers defense came to play to start the game on Saturday. After forcing the Huskers into a first-drive field goal, Minnesota appeared to stifle the Huskers' second drive until a peculiar play changed the course of the game.

With Nebraska driving midway through the first quarter, Minnesota forced the visiting Huskers into a fourth-and-1. Quarterback Taylor Martinez dropped back and attempted to deliver a backward pass to Aaron Green who proceeded to fumble the ball out of bounds, past the first down maker. As the Gophers celebrated, believing they had stopped the Huskers' drive, the referees conferred and ruled that it was a first down for the Huskers. Because it was a backward pass and Green never had possession, the ball was spotted where it went out of bounds, not the spot of the fumble.

"When a backward pass goes out of bounds between the goal lines, the ball belongs to the passing team at the out-of-bounds spot," said referee Todd Geerlings in a postgame statement.

Both head coaches agreed that the correct call was made on the field.

"It's a backwards pass and because it obviously wasn't intentional, he didn't intentionally slap the ball forward, the ruling is it goes where the ball goes out of bounds…It's not a fumble because we never had possession of it," said Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini.

Gophers' coach Jerry Kill shared a similar sentiment but found the rule somewhat flawed.

"The ball was pitched backwards, and because it was pitched backwards and fumbled, it's the right call. Like I told the official, I was very honest with him, I said, ‘You know what? How can we reward somebody in the game of football for a mistake?'"

Cornerback Kyle Henderson explained what he thought of the call.

"That was really a funky play," he said. "Either way it goes the other team is going to want it."

With the Gophers down by just a field goal at that point, the play became a huge momentum boost for the Huskers, deflating the Maroon and Gold defense.

"Was that a big swing in the game? It was huge," stated Kill.

After the play, the Huskers continued their drive, scoring just two plays later on a pass from Martinez to Tyler Legate. Nebraska went on to rack up 41 points on the night, beating the Gophers by a score of 41-14.

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