Huskers Survive Homecoming Scare in 41-31 Victory
Lincoln - Senior quarterback Eric Crouch recorded over 300 total-offense yards in a game for the second time this season, and third time in his career, helping No. 3/3 Nebraska to a 41-31 victory over upset-minded Texas Tech.
The victory improved Crouch?s record to 32-5 as a starter, as he became just fourth player in Division 1-A history to rush for 3,000 yards and throw for 3,000 yards in a career (joining Indiana?s Antwaan Randle El, Air Force?s Beau Morgan and Louisiana-Lafayette?s Brian Mitchell). Crouch now has 3,957 passing yards to rank third all-time at Nebraska and has 3,096 rushing yards to rank fourth overall and No. 1 for quarterbacks.
The crowd of 77,838 didn?t have to wait long for the fireworks to start, as the Red Raiders (3-3, 1-3 Big 12) jumped to a quick 7-0 lead as Wes Welker returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown with just 2:38 into the contest. The punt return for a score was the second longest against Nebraska in school history, and was the first against NU since Notre Dame?s Joey Getherall returned one 83 yards last year. It was just the seventh punt returned for a touchdown against the Huskers in history.
Nebraska (8-0, 4-0 Big 12), which entered the game as the No. 1 rushing team in the nation, then took the ball 80 yards on eight plays, including seven straight rushes, to tie it at 7-7 just three minutes later. Crouch capped the drive off with the only pass of the drive, a 27-yard scoring toss to tight end John Bowling. It was Bowling?s second career touchdown reception and first catch of the year.
The Huskers then took advantage of the first of two Texas Tech turnovers, as Jason Wesley fumbled the ensuing kickoff. The Huskers? Tim Demerath recovered the fumble at the Tech 25 and fullback Judd Davies rumbled in on the first play of the Husker drive. Josh Brown?s extra point gave Nebraska a 14-7 lead with 8:56 in the first.
Crouch, who also had over 300 total offense yards against Missouri earlier this year, then started to hit through the air, as he compiled 102 passing yards in the first quarter and 151 in the first half. His 19-yard completion to split end Wilson Thomas for a touchdown gave Nebraska 21-10 advantage late in the first, and he followed up with a 35-yard TD toss to Thomas at the beginning of the second quarter for a 28-13 advantage.
The Blackshirts, which came in ranked among the top five in the nation in total defense, allowed Texas Tech 261 total offense yards in the first half, as the teams combined for over 500 yards of offense in the first two periods. Texas Tech took advantage of the Huskers late in the half, as quarterback Kliff Kingsbury hit Anton Paige for a one-yard touchdown pass with 7:02 remaining and then handed off to Ricky Williams for a 12-yard scamper that tied the score at 28-28 with three seconds left before intermission.
Crouch directed Nebraska to 10 points on its first two drives of the third quarter to put the Huskers up for good. He capped a nine-play, 70-yard drive with a seven-yard run for the go-ahead touchdown, and followed up with a nine-play, 43-yard drive that ended in Josh Brown?s 33-yard field goal for a 38-28 lead. The field goal was first of two for Brown, as he hit from 36 yards out with just over three minutes remaining in the contest for the final margin. Texas Tech?s Robert Treece edged Brown in the field goal department, as he hit three (35, 42, 31 yards) when the Husker defense held the Red Raiders in check.
Crouch finished the game hitting 10-of-22 pass attempts for 196 yards and three touchdowns. It was the second-highest passing total of his career, nearly matching his 204 yards against Texas in 1999, the only 200-yard passing effort of his career. Crouch also added his fourth straight 100-yard rushing game with 105 yards on 21 carries, marking the fifth time he had reached the century mark on the ground this season and 15th time in his career. He was joined by Dahrran Diedrick, who gained 157 rushing yards, as Nebraska finished with 335 yards on the ground.
Kingsbury finished the game hitting 33-of-63 pass attempts for 353 yards and one touchdown. He was picked off once, when Dion Booker intercepted a pass on the first play after Crouch was intercepted at the Nebraska 28-yard line. Kingsbury?s favorite target in the game was Carlos Francis, who hauled in 11 receptions for 169 yards in the loss.
Nebraska extended its home winning streak to 19 games, which is now the longest in the nation as Oregon saw its 23-game home winning streak snapped Saturday. The Huskers play host to No. 2/2 Oklahoma next Saturday, Oct. 27, at 11 a.m. in a nationally televised game on ABC.
Game #8...Postgame Notes...Oct. 20, 2001...NU vs. Texas Tech
The No.3/3 Nebraska Cornhuskers had a thriller in Lincoln on Saturday, defeating Texas Tech 41-31, to take over the nation?s longest home winning streak as Oregon lost at home ending 23-game winning streak. In a back and fourth battle, Nebraska and Texas Tech fought to a 28-all halftime tie. The last time NU gave up 28-or-more points in the first half overall was at UCLA in 1988, when UCLA took 38-13 lead into the locker room at intermission. Nebraska has never given up 28 first-half points at home in the Bob Devaney/Tom Osborne/Frank Solich era. The last time Nebraska gave up 31 points was to Colorado last year in Lincoln, in the 34-32 Husker overtime win. Nebraska, however, is 299-1 when scoring 35-or-more points and has won the last 235 straight, losing only to Oklahoma, 49-35, in 1950. Nebraska led 38-31 after three quarters and held on for a 41-31 final, despite playing without six starters who did not play (two), or left the game (four) with injuries.
Nebraska is now 8-0, 3-0 in Big 12 action and has won all seven contests in the series vs. Texas Tech, which drops to 3-3, 1-3. Nebraska has won 33 straight games on Homecoming, dating back to a 12-0 shutout at the hands of Kansas State in 1958. The win gave NU an 8-0 record to open the season for the 19th time in school history, and the first time under Solich. The win was Nebraska's 10th straight overall and NU's 19th straight win at home.
*Senior quarterback Eric Crouch is now 32-5 as a starter, becoming just the 19th quarterback in Division I-A history to record 32 wins as a starter. He ranks one win behind Tommie Frazier on the Nebraska school-record list. Frazier had 33 wins against three losses from 1992 to 1995. On Crouch?s second carry of the game, a five-yard gain on Nebraska?s second drive, Crouch became just the fourth Division I-A quarterback all time to rush and pass for 3,000 yards in his career. Crouch joins active Indiana QB Antwaan Randle El (3,418 rush, 6,657 pass, 1998-2001), Air Force?s Beau Morgan (3,379 rush, 3,248 pass, 1994-96) and Louisiana-Lafayette?s Brian Mitchell (3,335 rush, 5,447 pass, 1986-89) as the only four to accomplish the feat.
In the game, Crouch rushed a team-high 21 times for 105 yards and one touchdown. He also completed 10-of-22 yards for 196 yards. His second highest passing total of his career (best is 204 yards vs. Texas in 1999, his only 200-yard passing game). He threw an interception with 3:10 remaining in the first half (intercepted by Kevin Curtis), but Texas Tech did not convert. Curtis picked off Crouch a second time in the end zone at the start of the fourth quarter, but did not convert. Crouch scored Nebraska?s first touchdown of the second half on a seven-yard run, breaking a 28-28 tie. It marked the fifth straight game this season that Crouch has scored at least one rushing touchdown. Crouch hit the 100-yard rushing mark with 5:02 remaining in the fourth quarter. It marks the 15th 100-yard rushing game of his career and his fifth this season, with four straight (191 at MU, 104 vs. ISU, 132 at Baylor, and 105 vs. TTU). His 15 career 100-yard rushing games rank tied for fourth all time at Nebraska (tied with Lawrence Phillips). Crouch had 301 total-offense yards in the game, the third time he has had 300 or more, to give him 7,053 in his career, best at Nebraska, and second best in the Big 12, passing OU?s Josh Heupel (1999-2000, 6,898 yards).
Crouch owns Nebraska school records for career rushing yards by a quarterback (3,096), most rushing TDs by any player (55), career total offense (7,053) and most total offense TDs (84), to name a few. Crouch is also the NCAA Division I-A record holder for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback, passing Ohio's Kareem Wilson's (49). Crouch's rushing yards rank fourth overall at NU, fifth in the Big 12 and eighth among NCAA Division I-A quarterbacks. He holds the Big 12 record for most rushing yards by a quarterback. With 105 rushing yards vs. Texas Tech, Crouch passed Husker I-back Ken Clark for fourth on the NU career rushing chart. Clark had 3,037 from 1987 to 1989. Crouch ranks third all time at NU in passing with 3,957 yards. Crouch ranks 12th on the Big 12 career passing chart and needs 37 passing yards to hit the 4,000-passing plateau and become just the third Division I-A quarterback to rush for 3,000 and pass for 4,000. Crouch now has 777 yards rushing and 14 TDs and has 986 passing yards and seven TDs, completing 58 percent (65-112) of his passes.
* Junior I-back Dahrran Diedrick rushed for 100 yards for the third consecutive game this season and the fifth time in seven games played. Against Texas Tech, Diedrick carried 20 times for 157 yards, the second best total of his career (177 vs. Troy State). He hit the 100-yard mark on NU?s first drive of the second half. He leads the Huskers and the Big 12 in rushing with 871 yards in seven games. Diedrick has had 100 rushing yards in each of the last three games and in five of the seven games he played in this year. Diedrick has 1,386 yards in his career, passing the 1,000-yard rushing plateau vs. Iowa State.
* Breaking up the Pass. Senior left cornerback Keyuo Craver did not have any breakups in the game, before leaving with a sprained ankle, and has 39 in his career to rank second. Fellow cornerback Erwin Swiney had three in the game and now has 38 and corner DeJuan Groce had two PBUs and now has 30 in his career. Swiney and Groce rank third and fourth, respectively.
* Split end Wilson Thomas caught a 19-yard yard touchdown on NU?s third touchdown drive to give NU a 21-10 lead. Thomas also caught a 35-yard pass from Crouch for a score which gave NU a 28-13 lead with 12:09 remaining in the second quarter. Thomas now has three touchdown receptions this season (and in career), including a career-long 42-yard TD reception vs. Rice. Thomas had 4-76 in the game, the third time this season he has had at least four receptions and at least 75 yards. He leads the team with 22 catches for 394 yards and three TDs.
* Kickoff Returner Josh Davis...now has nine long kickoff returns on the season, including a 32 yard return and a 26-yard return in the first half. Davis set a career high with five returns for 117 yards, bettering the 3-85 he had vs. Baylor.
* Place-kicker Josh Brown had two field goals in the game, marking the seventh time in his career he has accomplished that feat (first since Colorado last season). Brown was successful on a 33-yard field goal to give NU a 38-28 lead with 5:27 remaining in the third quarter. Then kicked a 36-yard field goal with 3:25 left in the game to give NU a 41-31 margin. Brown is now 3-5 on the season in field goals.
* Sacks...NU has had at least one sack in every game this season. NU had three sacks for 25 yards vs. Texas Tech, including 1-8 by Chris Kelsay, 1-10 by J.P. Wichmann, and 1-7 by Jeremy Slechta. Kelsay has three sacks for 19 yards lost on the season. Kelsay also had a second tackle for loss in the game. Lornell McPherson unofficially led the team with eight tackles, including seven solo stops, seeing extensive action when Craver went out with a sprained ankle. Free safety Dion Booker had seven tackles and his first interception of the season. Linebacker Scott Shanle had five tackles and two pass breakups, giving him seven on the season, one off the school record (Steve Forch, eight in 1997).
* NU Firsts and Bests...Tight End Jon Bowling caught his first reception this year and scored on a 27-yard reception from Crouch. It was his second career touchdown reception, as he also caught a 13-yard TD pass vs. Baylor in 2000. Bowling also caught a 14-yard pass, giving him 2-41 in the game, tying his career best in receptions and bettering his regular-season best of reception yards (also 2-30 vs. Texas, 1999; and 2-45 vs. Tennessee in 1998 Orange Bowl). NU junior fullback Paul Kastl caught his first career pass, a 19-yard catch on Nebraska?s third touchdown drive. He also had three carries for 13 yards and tied his career long with an eight-yard rush (also had an eight yard rush vs. Baylor last year when he carried four times for 22 yards). Senior rover Tim Demerath recovered one of John Wesley?s fumbled kickoff returns, and nearly had another, both in the first half. Wingback Ben Cornelson caught his first career catch vs. TTU with an 18-yard grab on NU?s first drive of the second half.
* Points Off Turnovers...Each team had two turnovers in the game. Nebraska senior rover Tim Demerath recovered John Wesley?s fumbled kickoff return on the TTU 25-yard line, and Nebraska scored one play later on a Judd Davies 25-yard run, marking NU?s second one-play drive this season (also one-play drive vs. Notre Dame, John Gibson 22-yard reception from Crouch). After the PAT by Josh Brown, NU has now converted 10 (9 TD, 1 FG) of 18 turnovers into 72 points. Texas Tech?s Kevin Curtis intercepted Eric Crouch with 3:10 remaining in the first half, but on the next play NU free safety Dion Booker intercepted Kliff Kingsbury. Nebraska also did not convert. Booker had an 18-yard return on his first interception this year, and the second of his career (also one vs. Texas in Big 12 Championship in 1999). The pick marked the 12th by the Huskers this year. Curtis picked off Crouch a second time early in the fourth quarter in the end zone, but TTU did not convert. Of NU?s 17 turnovers this season, opponents have converted just two to 14 points.
* Team Highs and Lows...Nebraska Highs...Nebraska had a season-high 93 penalty yards (previous high 85 at Missouri). Nebraska?s 22 pass attempts were the most by NU this season (previous high was 18 vs. TCU) and the three TD passes tied the three vs. Rice. Nebraska had 335 rushing yards, the fourth straight game NU has had at least 300, and the fifth time this season. Nebraska had 531 total offense yards, marking the fifth straight game NU has had at least 476 and the sixth time this year NU has had at least 450.
Opponent Highs...Texas Tech had four long kick returns in the game, including an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown by Wes Walker. That was the first punt return for a touchdown by an opponent since Notre Dame?s Joey Getherall returned a punt 83 yards vs. Nebraska last year. The long return is the first punt return of 25 yards or more against NU this season. Entering today?s game, NU had not given up a long punt return and just three long kickoff returns, but by the end of the first quarter, TTU already had four, including three long kickoff returns by Ivory McCann (31, 27 and 25 yards). The 85-yard punt return is the second longest all time vs. NU (longest was 91 yards by Baylor?s Del Shofner in 1956) and just the seventh punt return for a touchdown vs. NU in history. The return gave Texas Tech a 7-0 lead at 12:22, the third time NU has trailed this season (also vs. Troy State and Missouri). Nebraska gave up a season-high 31 points, including 28 in the first half (previous high this season was 14 in the game by Iowa State and Troy State). Texas Tech?s 13-play drive (62 yards) that ended in a Robert Treece 31-yard field goal, was the longest in terms of plays against the Huskers this season (previous long was 11 plays by Iowa State). Treece had three field goals in the game (35, 42, 31 yards), the most vs. the Huskers this season. All three bettered the previous three field goals vs. NU this season (29 by Notre Dame, 25 by Missouri and 28 by Iowa State). The 64 pass attempts by Texas Tech are the most since Louisiana Tech in Lincoln in 1998. Kliff Kingsbury completed 33-of-63 passes for 353 yards (all season highs) with one interception and one TD. His 33 completions and his 63 attempts are the second highest by a Husker opponent (behind Louisiana Tech?s Tim Rattay?s 46-of-68 in 1998). Kinsbury?s yards were the eighth most vs. NU. Carlos Francis?s 11 catches (for 169 yards) were the fourth most vs. NU in school history, while his yardage tied for 10th. Texas Tech?s 26 first downs were a season high (previous best was 20 by Iowa State). The 81 plays were a season high (previous high was 76 by Baylor). Tech also had a season-high 440 total-offense yards vs. NU, the most since Colorado had 451 vs. NU last season.