Crouch's Career Day Tops Tigers, 36-3
Columbia, Mo. (AP) -- Eric Crouch's end zone-to-end zone trip turned a somewhat tense situation into another easy Nebraska victory.
The fourth-ranked Cornhuskers were leading 16-3 and backed up near their goal line when Crouch faded to pass, spun away from a tackler, deked two defenders at the 20 and then won a sprint to the end zone. His 95-yard run was the longest in school history, and it led to a 36-3 win over Missouri on Saturday.
"It was probably a big momentum shifter," said Crouch, who rushed for a school quarterback-record 191 yards on 17 carries. "I know the game was not totally in our control at that time."
Dahrran Diedrick scored two touchdowns for Nebraska (5-0), which has a 23-game winning streak against Missouri (1-2) since 1978, with an average score of 38-14.
The Huskers, playing their first road game of the season, were far from perfect. They had two turnovers and a blocked field-goal attempt in the first quarter, and later botched an extra-point kick.
"It's a four-quarter game, that's just the way it is," said Coach Frank Solich. "There are a lot of teams that are going to have problems at different times in games, there are going to be teams that have problems all game long."
But Crouch's run certainly stood out. His record run put Nebraska ahead 22-3 with 2:21 to go in the third quarter.
"I saw a lot of green and I took the opportunity to run the ball," Crouch said. "I was just trying to get as many yards as I could, trying to get to that end zone, and there was a lot of daylight out there for me to make some moves and try to get something going.
"I kind of amazed myself."
The run bettered the record of 94 yards set by Craig Johnson on Oct. 13, 1979 against Kansas, and matched by Roger Craig on Sept. 19, 1981 against Florida State. Crouch eclipsed the quarterback mark of 174 yards set by Gerry Gdowski against Iowa State in 1989.
"They're just waiting for that kind of play, where he can get into the open field and hurt you," said Missouri linebacker Sean Doyle. "That's when teams usually fold against them."
Crouch added a 15-yard TD run with 9:56 to go for a 29-3 lead, and finished with 311 yards in total offense. He was 8-for-14 for 120 yards and an interception.
"You get used to that with Eric," Solich said. "He's given us those kind of plays throughout the course of his time at Nebraska and they're always appreciated when they come, believe me.
"But he's had so many of them."
Diedrick scored on runs of 4 and 1 yards in the second quarter as Nebraska recovered from a shaky start. He had 86 yards on 24 carries and has seven touchdowns on the year.
Jammal Lord added a 1-yard run with 4:18 remaining.
Missouri was unable to keep pace despite the return of junior quarterback Kirk Farmer, who tore a knee ligament in the second game of the season. Farmer was 15-for-39 for 128 yards for the Tigers, coming off a three-week layoff.
"I didn't make enough plays to win," said Farmer. "We had some good plays, but I missed a lot of throws and you're not going to beat Nebraska like that."
Missouri has 16 points in its two games against I-A competition.
"It wasn't a real fun day for me," said coach Gary Pinkel. "I didn't get in this business to do this. I don't like this.
"It's my job to fix it and I'm going to get that done."
Nebraska, which had outscored opponents 65-14 in the first quarter, stumbled out of the gate this time. The Cornhuskers trailed 3-0 on Brad Hammerich's 28-yard field goal.
Diedrick's TDs gave Nebraska a 13-3 lead. The second score came with 23 seconds to go and came one play after Wilson Thomas caught an underthrown pass from Crouch for a 37-yard gain.
"To get points right before the half, that was a very big play," Solich said. "He was fairly well-covered, he just went up and took the ball away."
Postgame Notes...Sept. 29, 2001
The No. 4/4 Nebraska Cornhuskers improved to 5-0 on the season with a 36-3 win to open Big 12 Conference play at Missouri. The win for the Huskers was Nebraska's seventh straight overall; NU's 23rd consecutive over Missouri; the Huskers 13th consecutive win in Columbia; Coach Frank Solich's fourth straight over the Tigers in four tries; Nebraska's fifth straight win in road openers; snapped a rare two-game road losing streak; and gave Coach Solich a 26-0 record vs. Missouri (3-0 as a player, 19-0 as an assistant, 4-0 as a head coach).
Nebraska had a slow start, hampered by two turnovers in the first quarter. Quarterback Eric Crouch threw his third interception of the season, and DeJuan Groce fumbled a punt return. Both turnovers took place inside the Missouri 30-yard line and the Husker defense held the Tigers as they were unable to convert either turnover. Missouri scored first on a 28-yard field goal by Brad Hammerich with 4:51 remaining in the first quarter. It marked the second time Nebraska has trailed this season (also vs. Troy State). Nebraska did not record a first down and had just 62 yards in the first quarter compared to Missouri?s 108. On Nebraska?s last drive of the first quarter, which extended into the second quarter, Crouch converted three third downs (11-yard pass to Judd Davies, his first this season, an 11-yard run and a 19-yard run and a successful fourth-down conversion when he handed off to I-Back Dahrran Diedrick, who scored Nebraska?s first touchdown on a one-yard run. The 14-play drive that took 5:21, were both season longs for the Huskers (73 yards).
The Huskers took a 13-3 halftime lead, after Crouch led the Huskers on a 67-yard drive that culminated in a four-yard TD run by Diedrick. Crouch completed a 10-yard pass to Missouri native Tracey Wistrom, which gave him the school TE receiving record, and a 37-yard pass to Wilson Thomas.
Nebraska extended the margin to 13 points on a Josh Brown 38-yard field goal. That drive of 15 plays, 54 yards and 6:20, were season bests for long plays and long time. NU went up 22-3 after Crouch broke a 20-year-old school record, with a 95-yard touchdown run. Crouch also scored on a 15-yard TD run and reserve quarterback Jammal Lord scored on a one-yard run to give the Huskers the final 36-3 margin. Crouch had a record-setting day with 191 yards rushing and 311 in total offense. NU totaled a season-best 412 yards rushing, 120 passing and a season-best 532 total-offense yards. Missouri had 205 total-offense yards, on 138 passing yards and 67 by rush. Missouri is the fourth opponent that the Blackshirts have held to less than 70 yards rushing.
* Senior quarterback Eric Crouch improved to 29-5 as a starter. Crouch carried 17 times for 191 yards and completed 8-of-14 passes for 120 yards. He had one interception and no touchdowns thrown. Crouch went over the 100-yard rushing mark, with a career-best, school-record 95-yard touchdown run, which gave Nebraska a 22-3 lead with two minutes remaining in the third quarter. The previous school record was 94 yards by Craig Johnson vs. Kansas 1979 and Roger Craig vs. Florida State in 1981. Crouch?s previous long TD run was 62 yards vs. Notre Dame in 2000. For Crouch, it is his first 100-yard rushing game of the season and 11th of his career. His last 100-yard rushing game was against Colorado last season, when he had 125. His previous career best in single-game rushing yards was 158 yards on 27 carries vs. Kansas State in 1999. Crouch also had a career-best 311 yards of total offense, breaking his previous best of 302 yards vs. Iowa State last season (138 rushing, 164 passing). Today?s game marks Crouch?s sixth game when he has totaled at least 250 yards of total offense, all coming in the last two seasons. Crouch set the regular-season single-game rushing record for a Husker quarterback by the end of the third quarter with 191 rushing yards. The previous record was 174 yards by Gerry Gdowski vs. Iowa State in 1989. (Tommie Frazier had 199 yards vs. Florida in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl.) Crouch also had a 15-yard TD run with 9:56 in the fourth quarter, which put the Huskers up 29-3 to give him two TDs on the day.
Crouch already owns Nebraska school records for career rushing yards by a quarterback (2,755) and career total offense (6,359). On a 37-yard completion to Wilson Thomas, Crouch passed Tommie Frazier?s 3,521 yards from 1992 to 1995 to move up to third on the NU all-time passing chart. He now has 3,604 passing yards. Crouch's rushing yards rank seventh overall at NU (passing Derek Brown?s 2,699 from 1990 to 1992), 10th in the Big 12 (up from 12th) and eighth among NCAA Division I-A quarterbacks (moving up three spots from 10th). Crouch is second all time at NU in rushing TDs with 47 and needs three more to take the school record away from Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier (49 from 1981 to 1983).
Crouch threw his third interception of the season, his 18th of his career in the first quarter, ending a two-game, nine-quarter, 25-attempt streak where he had not thrown an interception. After the interception, Crouch marched the Huskers on a 14-play, 73-yard drive in the first quarter that spanned 73 yards. Crouch carried for 30 of the yards, twice rushing for first downs on third-and-long situations (11 yards, 19 yards).
* Senior tight end (and Webb City, Mo., product) Tracey Wistrom broke the Husker record for career receiving yards with his first catch. On a 10-yard reception from Crouch on Nebraska?s second scoring drive, Wistrom totaled 52 receptions for 1,049 yards, breaking the career record previously held by Junior Miller, who had 1,045 from 1977 to 1979. Wistrom also caught a 16-yard pass from Crouch on NU?s second drive of the third quarter giving NU a third-down conversion. He had two catches for 26 yards in the game, giving him 53 catches for 1,039 yards in his career. Wistrom is tied for third in career receptions and is eight catches behind Jerry List's school-record 61 receptions (from 1970 to 1972), four behind Miller's 55, and tied with Jim McFarland's 53 from 1968 to 1969. Wistrom has caught at least one pass in each of the last nine regular-season games.
* Junior linebacker Scott Shanle had a career-best three pass breakups in the game and was the Husker leader with eight tackles. No linebacker or defensive tackle at Nebraska has ever had four pass breakups in a game. The three PBU?s by Shanle ranked tied for seventh on the NU single-game list, tied with 35 others.
* Junior I-back Dahrran Diedrick scored the Huskers? first two touchdowns of the game, on runs of one and four yards, both in the second quarter. Diedrick leads the Huskers with 470 yards in four games played. Diedrick totaled 36 yards in the first quarter, 67 at halftime on 18 carries and 86 yards on 24 carries in the game. He did not play in the fourth quarter. Diedrick has 985 yards in his career, just 15 short of the 1,000 yard rushing plateau.
* Junior cornerback DeJuan Groce had a career-best day returning punts. He returned seven punts for 145 yards. Four of his returns bettered his previous career long of 20 yards set last week against Rice. Groce had returns of 26 yards, 24 yards, 21 and 24 yards, but fumbled and lost the first 24-yard return to Missouri. The Tigers did not convert. Groce?s previous career bests were four returns for 58 yards vs. Rice. Groce also had four pass breakups.
* Sophomore I-back Josh Davis had two long kickoff returns, of 26 yards to open the first half, and 33 yards to open the second half. Davis now has five kickoff returns of more than 25 yards.
* Junior split end Wilson Thomas caught a 37-yard pass from Crouch that led to Nebraska?s second touchdown of the game. He also made a 15-yard grab that led to Josh Brown?s 38-yard field goal on NU?s second drive of the third quarter. He had three for 59 in the game.
* Linebacker T.J. Hollowell recorded his first career sack, a 12-yard tackle for loss. NU has had at least one sack in every game this season.