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LINCOLN — The Nebraska football team’s Red-White spring game Saturday afternoon featured four past star high school football players from Northeast and North Central Nebraska, and one made the play of the game.

Wyatt Liewer from O'Neill snagged a 25-yard pass from quarterback Heinrich Haarberg to score what would end up being the game-winning touchdown for the White team. The game clock had zero seconds left before the play started, but coach Scott Frost and company decided they would allow for one more play to see if the offense could score. In a format where most of the Red team consisted of starters, the 21-20 victory for the White team was a surprising outcome.

Not only did Liewer, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound sophomore, grab the touchdown, but he accounted for 65 total yards on the game-winning drive after he recorded a 40-yard reception on the previous play. Those were his only two catches for the game.

Another former area player is featured in the trenches and figures to play a significant role again this season. Ethan Piper, who played in high school for Norfolk Catholic, began the game with the starters of the Red team. And while offensive linemen don't really show up in the stat sheet unless called for a penalty, Piper played well on Saturday.

On one of his best plays, he helped open a hole for an Adrian Martinez quarterback draw on the second play of the game. Piper locked on to Colton Feist of Yutan and helped clear the way for the 10-yard run.

Piper played in all eight games last season and started seven of them at guard. As a team, Nebraska finished second in the Big Ten in rushing in 2020. With four of the starters of the final game against Rutgers coming back this season, the continuity should help the offensive line's performance level keep moving.

Two former Norfolk Panthers played significant minutes in the second half. Safety Lane McCallum of the White team made two solo tackles and assisted on two others. While he didn't play in any games last season, he will add another veteran presence this year in a veteran secondary.

Ryan Schommer played outside linebacker for the Red team and assisted on two tackles including combining with defensive lineman Marquis Black on a tackle of the first play of the second half. As a sophomore, he still has time to grow as a player and find his way onto the field in the coming years.

Other notes from the game:

— Even though it may have felt like a game for fans, there isn't a whole lot to take away from the spring game. There were multiple players on offense and defense who didn't play in the game, including expected contributors this upcoming season. Combine that with the 25 mph wind from the south, and a first half of essentially touch football, and it's difficult to make any firm conclusions.

— Nebraska has to think long and hard about adding a transfer quarterback. Martinez looked sharp, yes, but he has been injury-prone throughout his career. With three quarterbacks behind him without any playing experience at the collegiate level, it may be wise to grab someone from an otherwise overloaded transfer portal.

— The Husker defense can be in the top 30 in total defense. It may be considered a lofty goal at this point, but with NFL talent in the secondary and a defensive line that returns all of its starters, the defense can make another jump as it has every year under defensive coordinator Erik Chinander.

This article originally ran on norfolkdailynews.com.

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