Published Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 12:01 am / Updated at 12:43 am
FOOTBALL
From the sidelines: A lot of love on NU's sideline in the final two minutes

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — There were hugs, high-fives and plenty of smiles along Nebraska's bench after Ameer Abdullah scored what proved to be the winning touchdown.

Wide receiver Kenny Bell and his position coach, Rich Fisher, exchanged words and a hug. Abdullah quietly accepted congratulations from teammates within high-fiving distance. Injured offensive linemen Jake Cotton and Jeremiah Sirles were praising and encouraging linemates Zach Sterup and Andrew Rodriguez as they returned to the bench.

One other important item that was also present — focus. Michigan, behind 17-13, still had 2:03 left on the clock. Defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski had his troops gathered and focused on stopping the next Wolverine drive, barking at them to take things “one play at a time.”

Graduate assistant Joe Ganz ran over and got the offensive linemen off the bench and to the edge of the sideline to root on the defense.

Even fans dressed in red in the front rows sprinkled among the Michigan faithful outshouted their counterparts with cheers of “Let's go defense.”

After NU secured the victory, quarterback Ron Kellogg began waving goodbye to Wolverine fans headed for the exits. The celebrating continued with teammates congratulating each other in the tunnel on the way to the locker room.

Sirles sits, but leads cheers

Sirles started his day singing a song and ended it singing his teammates' praises.

Nebraska's gregarious offensive tackle was singing along with the KISS song “Rock and Roll All Night” that was playing on the Michigan Stadium public-address system while the Huskers were stretching.

Sirles then suffered an injury to his left knee in the first half. When he emerged for the second half dressed in sweats and with a cane, Sirles put on a headset and planted himself on the bench.

He also was one of the Huskers' best cheerleaders, especially after Abdullah's touchdown and on the way up the tunnel — where he praised his teammates on defense, telling them how much they deserved this victory after the criticism they've endured.

Add Westerkamp to injured list

Another Husker who suffered a first-half injury was wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp. One of the heroes of last week's win against Northwestern, Westerkamp went to the locker room in the first half.

When he came back out late in the first half, he had a device attached to his right hip and the controller for it in his right hand. That device was gone after halftime and Westerkamp was back on the field in the second half.

Nice save, Jake

Jake Cotton and another injured offensive lineman Spencer Long both were warmly greeted by Long's mother, Ann, during pregame warmups. The two players were watching their teammates from just beyond the south end zone.

Ann Long gave both players a big hug. She even dropped her box of popcorn on the field. Cotton quickly retrieved it and got it back to her with very few kernels lost.

Safe landings

As part of the Veterans Day festivities before the game, three skydivers battled strong winds and made safe landings at the south end of the field.

Two of the divers sailed over members of the Michigan band, who were in a tighter-than-usual formation to give them room at both ends of the field. The third one came over the east side, buzzing a few folks watching from the Nebraska sideline.

Red in a sea of maize and blue

An estimated 12,000 Husker fans were among the Michigan Stadium crowd of 112,204.

Nebraska's victory ended Michigan's home winning streak at 19 games. It was also the 250th game at the Big House where attendance exceeded 100,000.

The biggest groups of fans wearing red were ringed across the top of the south end zone.

Timing a bit off

Michigan's kicking crews — punters, place-kickers and long snappers — came out of the locker room a little earlier than usual.

They weren't able to do anything but stretch because the Michigan band was still three minutes from finishing its performance. Nebraska's kickers emerged about three minutes later and were able to begin their warmups the same time as the Wolverines.

Contact the writer: Steve Beideck

stevebeideck63@gmail.com    |   402-618-4113    |  

Steve is a correspondent for The Omaha World-Herald and covers the Omaha Lancers and high school sports.

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