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Spring Grove grad Drew Luckenbaugh makes game-winning kick in first Northwestern start

STAFF REPORT
  • Spring Grove grad Drew Luckenbaugh booted a 37-yard field in overtime Saturday for Northwestern.
  • The kick gave the Wildcats a 34-31 Big Ten triumph over Nebraska.
  • In his first college start, Luckenbaugh was 4 for 4 on extra points and 2 for 3 on field goals.

Drew Luckenbaugh's first start as an NCAA Division I placekicker was rather memorable.

Northwestern's Drew Luckenbaugh (38) celebrates his game-winning field goal in overtime against Nebraska on Saturday in Evanston, Illinois. Luckenbaugh is a Spring Grove High School graduate. (AP Photo/Jim Young)

The 2016 Spring Grove High School graduate booted a 37-yard field goal in overtime to give Northwestern a 34-31 overtime triumph over visiting Nebraska on Saturday.

"Everything felt pretty calm. I was with my holder and my snapper. ... They're talking to me because they'd been in this before," the redshirt sophomore told the Associated Press after the victory.

Luckenbaugh, who previously had only seen duty on 16 kickoffs this season, had not attempted any college field goals or extra points before Saturday. He finished the game with 10 points, going 2 for 3 on field goals and 4 for 4 on extra points. He also made a 31-yard field goal in the fourth quarter and missed wide left on his first-ever college field goal attempt — a 42-yarder in the third quarter.

“As I was growing up, we had a saying, ‘Fix it and forget it,’” Luckenbaugh told The Daily Northwestern. “So I realized what I did, and then just fixed it and moved on in the next one.”

Northwestern's Drew Luckenbaugh, center, celebrates his game-winning field goal in overtime with teammate Jake Collins, left, next to Nebraska's Tre Neal in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018, in Evanston, Ill.. (AP Photo/Jim Young)

Luckenbaugh was playing because first-string kicker Charlie Kuhbander was injured.

“(It’s a) next-man-up mentality, and it was his turn, his opportunity,” Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald told The Daily Northwestern. “He stepped up and really responded incredibly from that first kick. ... Drew made a big statement that he was ready mentally. He was able to overcome some adversity after that kick (and) he stepped up when his teammates needed him. To me, that’s pretty special.”

Luckenbaugh's efforts helped Northwestern improve to 3-3 overall and 3-1 in the Big Ten.

Northwestern's Drew Luckenbaugh, center, kicks his game-winning field goal in overtime from the hold of Jake Collins, left, as Nebraska's Lamar Jackson looks on during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018, in Evanston, Ill. (AP Photo/Jim Young)

Kuhbander's status for next week's game is uncertain, so it's not known if Luckenbaugh will get to kick again at Rutgers on Saturday.

Luckenbaugh redshirted in 2016 for Northwestern and did not play in 2017.

During his senior season with the Rockets, Luckenbaugh was 23 for 24 on extra points and made eight field goals. He also punted for Spring Grove.