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BY J.T. WILCOX | Staff Writer

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MIAMI GARDENS (CBSMiami) – After leading by as much as 23 points with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter, Miami needed a Corn Elder interception and Michael Badgley 28-yard field goal in overtime to escape with a 36-33 win over visiting Nebraska Saturday night at Sun Life Stadium.

After the Canes won the coin toss and elected to play defense first, on Nebraska’s first play from the 25-yard line Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. was flushed out of the pocket and threw a pass towards the endzone. As the pass floated short of a Cornhuskers receiver, Elder positioned himself in front of it and snagged it out of the air.

That set the stage for Badgley to kick the game-winning field goal – his fifth successful kick on the day.

Badgley said he was calm prior to the kick.

“I was calm, the whole operation was calm,” Badgley said. “I was just thinking that ‘we have to win this game’. Just like any player thinks during the game, I wanted to make a play to help my team win. We did our job, we came up big and we did well. It’s a big win.”

Miami (3-0) led 33-10 after Badgley kicked a 28-yard field goal with 11:14 left in the fourth quarter.

Then things began to go south.

Nebraska, which defeated Miami 41-31 last season, scored three straight touchdowns – all on touchdown passes by Armstrong Jr. The Cornhuskers first cut into the deficit after Armstrong connected with Alonzo Moore on a 10-yard pass followed by a successful two-point conversion pass to Cethan Carter with 8:36 left.

The Huskers (1-2) chipped away at it again five minutes later when they capped a 9-play, 80-yard drive with a 21-yard touchdown strike to Brandon Reilly.

Nebraska then tied the game – and stunned what was left of the 53,580 fans that attended the game – when Armstrong found Stanley Morgan on an 8-yard toss followed by another successful two-point conversion with 33 seconds left in the game.

Armstrong finished the game 21 of 45 for 309 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions. Nebraska running back Terrell Newby finished with 82 yards on 14 carries as the Huskers amassed 153 total rushing yards.

Hurricanes head coach Al Golden was just happy to get out with the win.

“We kept fighting. We faced some adversity and the guys responded well,” Golden said. “There was a good attitude on the sideline going to overtime. The leaders led and everyone else stayed together…we just beat a good team. We’re 3-0 going into our bye week and that’s a good thing. Now we can get healthy and get ready for Cincinnati.”

LOSING THE LEAD
After Badgley’s overtime kick sailed through the uprights, the team ran onto the field in celebration.

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The reaction was raw and natural after winning the game in dramatic fashion.

But the troubling dynamic was the fashion in which the Canes lost the fourth quarter lead.

Miami’s offense again struggled on third down – converting only three of 14 attempts. Also, the Hurricanes only notched four first downs on running plays and were unable to adequately run and subsequently possess the ball during the final quarter.

Coach Golden took much of the blame.

“I think our attacking mindset got us in trouble,” Golden said when asked about the team’s lack of fourth quarter production. “We were being aggressive trying to score more points and I think it hurt us. Especially on the third down where Brad threw the interception in the endzone. I probably should’ve told [offensive coordinator] James [Coley] to buried it in there and just take the field goal.”

UM’s players weren’t too concerned about it though.

“No,” senior linebacker and team captain Raphael Kirby quickly said when asked he was upset about losing the lead. “We won the game. This is college football. We knew [Nebraska] would keep fighting. They’re on scholarship just like we are – they’re going to make plays.”

“I’m not really upset about it,” said quarterback Brad Kaaya. “We won the game and that’s all that matters.”

Miami’s offense and defense struggled in the fourth quarter – a far contrast from what had been happening earlier in the game. The Canes opened the third quarter with a 4-play scoring drive that Joe Yearby capped off with a 41-yard scoring scamper to put Miami ahead 27-3.

Defensively, Miami was solid early through the third quarter. Artie Burns came up with a big interception during the first half – picking off Armstrong as the Huskers had driven inside UM’s 14-yard line and safety Deon Bush got a highlight-worthy pick to end the third quarter when made a big hit on a Nebraska receiver, sending the ball flying into the air, then he caught the errant ball while he lay on his back.

Kaaya finished the game 25-of-42 for 379 yards with a pair of touchdowns – one to Tyre Brady and the other to Chris Herndon. Rashawn Scott set a new career high for single game receptions with nine and totaled a game-high 151 receiving yards. Yearby finished with a game-high 125 yards on 17 carries and Mark Walton, who had two touchdown plays called back due to holding penalties, finished with 23 yards on 10 attempts.

BUSH & CARTER EJECTED
Some might attribute Miami’s fourth quarter collapse to the absence of Bush and safety Jamal Carter.

The safeties were ejected from Saturday’s game after receiving targeting penalties.

Bush received his with 9:25 left in the fourth quarter when he hit Nebraska’s Sam Cotton as a pass sailed incomplete.

Carter drew his flag after making a hit in the open field, being disqualified with just under two minutes left in the game – right before Nebraska tied the game at 33.

By rule, both players will miss the first half of Miami’s October 1st game at Cincinnati.

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“Those two are some of the most physical players, but I’ve never seen them get flagged for anything like that before,” Golden said. “We don’t teach that. But the refs made the call and those are calls that they usually get right. So we’ll have to deal with that moving forward.”