STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Late in the first quarter of Saturday’s game against Penn State, Nebraska’s Ron Kellogg III got the call at quarterback.
Starter Tommy Armstrong Jr. had been hobbled by an ankle injury, so Nebraska coach Bo Pelini decided it was time for Kellogg to take over.
And Kellog delivered in the Huskers’ 23-20 overtime victory over the Nittany Lions.
He finished the game 20-for-34 passing for 191 yards and a touchdown. That touchdown came on his first series of the game.
Kellogg completed his first pass of the game for 14 yards to Jordan Westerkamp. After a short gain by Ameer Abdullah, Kellogg found Jake Long for 15 yards to the 41.
Imani Cross picked up six, then it was Kellogg to Westerkamp again for a first down on the Penn State 43.
Abdullah went for 11 yards to the 32, and two plays later Kellogg found Quincy Enunwa open down the middle for a 27-yard touchdown strike to give Nebraska a 7-6 lead with 13:14 left in the second quarter.
Kellogg said this may have been even sweeter than his “Hail Mary” to Jordan Westerkamp that beat Northwestern on the last play of the game three weeks.
“Quincy put on the after-burners after he caught the slant,” he said. “I just wanted to set a tone for my first series and basically get everyone on my side to roll and get a victory today, and it ended up working.”
That touchdown came on a first-down play, but offensive coordinator Tim Beck said Kellogg made a lot of big throws on third down.
“He had a couple of key throws and really played well,” Beck said. “They were coming after us a little bit. Our guys were fighting up front, but sometimes we were outmatched.
“It’s winning ugly, but it’s a win.”
The conditions didn’t help the passing game. It was windy, cold and at times there was snow in the air.
“There were some tough conditions,” Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. “I thought Ron handled it well and he provides great leadership. He has a confident air about him. He came in and played well.
“We feel good about Ronny and in an emergency situation, I think Tommy could have come back in, but he didn’t feel comfortable putting pressure on (his ankle).”
Kellogg said he loved the weather.
“It was really sweet, though, when it started to snow, and it felt like a real winter game, but we grinded out the entire game with the substitute offensive linemen that we had,” he said. “They all played their butts off, and we managed to get down the field.”
This was the most Kellogg has played in a game, and the walk-on relishes the opportunity.
“It’s been a dream come true,” Kellogg said. “Not too many walk-on players get an opportunity like this. I just want to set examples for the other walk-on players on our team that no matter what you go through, whether it’s personally or with the team, if you just keep doing what you’re doing and working hard, opportunities like this can happen to you as well.”
Kellogg has been with the Husker program for five years now, and if his good friend and roommate Taylor Martinez wouldn’t have been injured, he might never have gotten his chance.
“I don’t want to sound like I’m gloating or anything, but it feels good to finally get the opportunity to run the offense and be the leader at quarterback for the University of Nebraska,” Kellogg said. “It’s something that I have dreamt about for a long time.
“I was born and raised here. To follow in the footsteps of players like Joe Ganz and Eric Crouch and Scott Frost, it’s a surreal feeling for me and it’s something I’ll never forget.”