Lincoln -- No. 5/6 (AP/Coaches) Nebraska?s two quarterback system worked to perfection as the Huskers improved to 2-0 on the season with a 45-0 victory over California in front of the largest crowd in Memorial Stadium history Saturday.
The Husker QB duo of sophomore Eric Crouch and junior Bobby Newcombe accounted for five of Nebraska?s six touchdowns and 219 yards of total offense.
Crouch, who went 2-2 passing for 102 yards, accounted for four scores on the day, rushing for two touchdowns, throwing another and catching a 60-yard touchdown pass from Newcombe. Crouch became the first player to rush, pass and catch a TD pass in the same game since Florida?s Jacquez Green accomplished the feat in 1997, and the first Husker since Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers against Notre Dame in the 1973 Orange Bowl.
Cal controlled the ball for much of the first quarter, using an 11-play, 52-yard drive to march deep into NU territory before the Husker defense stiffened, forcing a 35-yard field goal attempt by Ignacio Brache, which bounced off the left upright. The missed field goal was a wakeup call for Nebraska, as the Huskers scored touchdowns on four of their last five possessions in the half, and the first of two missed field goals for Brache, who also hit the same upright on the Golden Bears? first possession of the second half.
After being stopped on its first two possessions, Nebraska jumped on the scoreboard late in the first quarter as the Huskers drove 51 yards on five plays, as Newcombe keep an option pitch and scored from 12 yards out with 28 seconds remaining in the first quarter. The junior from Albuquerque set up the score with a 22-yard run with a 15-yard personal foul tacked on the end of the play.
After forcing a Califonia punt, Crouch guided the Huskers to a nine-play, 80-yard scoring drive to put the Huskers ahead 14-0. Crouch, who either threw or ran for 53 of the 80 yards on the drive, hit Tracey Wistrom of a key 32-yard completion to the Cal 25 and finished the drive with a 1-yard run on third and goal.
The Huskers forced a turnover on Cal?s next possession as Steve Warren tipped Samuel Clemons? pass at the line of scrimmage and Mike Brown intercepted the pass and returned it to the Cal 47. The Huskers were unable to capitalize, as Newcombe was sacked by Andre Carter.
After an exchange of punts, Crouch connected with a wide open Tracey Wistrom for a 70-yard scoring pass to put NU up 21-0. Wistrom, who became the first receiver to top the 100-yard mark since Matt Davison?s 166-yard effort against Texas A&M last season, caught the pass from Crouch at the Cal 45 and outran the Bear secondary to the endzone.
The Husker passing game struck again on NU?s next possession as Newcombe connected on an inside screen pass to Crouch and the junior from Omaha raced 60 yards to paydirt, giving NU a 28-0 advantage.
Nebraska?s special teams and defense help Nebraska extend the lead to 38-0 late in the third quarter. Brian Shaw blocked a Nick Harris punt and recovered at the Cal 14, setting up Josh Brown?s 37-yard field goal before Ralph Brown intercepted a Kyle Boller pass and returned it 35 yards to the 4-yard line, leading to Crouch?s four-yard touchdown run on the next play.
The Husker defense forced the second turnover of the day as redshirt freshman DeJuan Groce forced a Michael Ainsworth fumble which Brian Shaw recovered at midfield. Nebraska converted the turnover, driving 50 yards on eight plays, capped by junior I-back Dan Alexander?s five-yard touchdown run to give NU a 45-0 lead. The Huskers were stopped on fourth down, but California committed a face mask, giving Nebraska the ball at the Cal 5 before Alexander scored on the next play.
Today?s crowd of 77,617 broke the previous stadium record of 76,663 against Oklahoma on Nov. 21, 1987, continuing Nebraska?s consecutive sellout string to an NCAA record 228 straight games. This afternoon marked the completion of the Memorial Stadium Improvement Project, a $36.1 million facility improvment with 42 skybox suites, expanded concourses and a new media facility -- named for Don Bryant, Nebraska?s longtime Sports Information Director, during halftime ceremonies.Nebraska Postgame Notes vs. California, Sept. 11, 1999
* The Huskers shut out California, 45-0, in Nebraska?s home opener, before a Memorial Stadium record crowd of 77,617. It was dedication day in Lincoln of the new Stadium Skybox facility and of Level 6 in honor of longtime SID Don Bryant. Today marked the 228th consecutive sellout (NCAA record). The stadium improvements increased the official capacity from 72,700 to 74,031, and today?s crowd (77,617) bettered the stadium record of 76,663 set against Oklahoma in 1987. Nebraska improves to 2-0 and will host Southern Mississippi next week, California drops to 1-1 and will be idle next week.
* In today?s game, quarterback/wingback Eric Crouch rushed nine times for 21 yards and two scores and completed two of two passes for 102 yards and one TD. Crouch ran for a 1-yard TD (8:44), passed for a career-long 70-yard TD to Tracey Wistrom (at 2:36) and caught a 60-yard pass from QB Bobby Newcombe (0:53), all in the second quarter. Both of his pass completions were to Wistrom (also a 32-yarder). The last player to catch, run and throw for a touchdown in the same game was Florida?s Jacquez Green vs. Auburn on Oct. 18, 1997. Johnny Rodgers is the last Husker to accomplish the feat, running for three touchdowns, passing for one and catching one in a 40-6 win over Notre Dame in the 1973 Orange Bowl. The NCAA record book does not indicate if a player has accomplished this in a single quarter, as Crouch did in today?s second quarter. For the second straight week, Eric Crouch was named the ABC/Chevrolet player-of-the-game.
* Tight end Tracey Wistrom caught two passes, both from Eric Crouch. Wistrom caught a 32-yard pass in the second quarter and a career-best 70-yard TD to put NU up 21-0 with 2:36 remaining in the second quarter. That gave Wistrom 102 yards receiving on the day. Wistrom is the first Husker to have 100 yards receiving since Matt Davison had a school-record 167 vs. Texas A&M on Oct. 10 last year. He is the first tight end to have 100 yards in receptions since Johnny Mitchell had 137 vs. Oklahoma in 1971 (seven receptions).
* The Kicking Game...Nebraska punter Dan Hadenfeldt hit on a career-best 73 yard punt in the first quarter. It actually went a distance of 83 yards as he was punting from the end zone late in the first quarter. It set Cal back to their own 23-yard line and the Bears punted on fourth down. Hadenfeldt also had a 57 yard punt, a 39-yard punt downed at the CU 12, a 51-yarder to the 29, a 33-yard punt downed at the Cal 8 and a 44-yard punt to the 9. In the game Hadenfeldt punted six tiems for 49.5 yards. Freshman Josh Brown hit on his first career field goal, a 37-yarder and was perfect on 5-5 PATs. Junior Chase Long kicked his first PAT in the fourth quarter.
* The ?Unrelated? Senior Brown Brothers...Rover Mike Brown intercepted Samuel Clemons in the second quarter. He picked off a pass tipped up at the line by NT Steve Warren. (NU did not convert). Mike also had two tackles. California native cornerback Ralph Brown recorded his ninth career interception and brought NU to the Cal 4-yard line with a 35-yard return when he intercepted Kyle Boller at the 3-minute mark in the third. (Crouch scored one play later to put NU up 38-0 late in the third quarter). Ralph is tied for eighth on the career interception list (record is 14 by Dana Stephensen, CB, 1967-68-69). Ralph also had one breakup, extending his career school record to 37 and one tackle.
* Senior linebacker Brian Shaw blocked a Nick Harris punt in the third quarter. NU took over at the Cal 13 yard line and scored four plays later. It was Shaw?s first career blocked punt. He also recovered a fumble caused by DeJuan Groce. Shaw had one tackle and a pass breakup.
* Quarterback Bobby Newcombe rushed 12 times for 11 yards and scored on a 12 yard run for Nebraska?s first score. He also completed three of seven passes for 85 yards and threw a career-long 60-yard TD pass. On that drive, Newcombe was responsible for all of the yards (51) on five rushes.
* Husker split end Matt Davison has now caught at least one pass in 19 straight games. Davison had one catch for 18 yards today.
* Husker Defense...In two games, the Huskers have not given up any points in the first, second or third quarter. The No. 1 defense has not given up a touchdown. The only points scored against Nebraska in the first two games were seven by Iowa on a blocked punt. This is the first shutout of an opponent since Oct. 17, 1998 in a 41-0 win over Kansas in Lincoln. Nebraska?s defense in two games has given up 7 points, 314 total-offense yards (145 today), 97 yards rushing (40 today), 16 first downs (nine today) and has caused six turnovers. Opponents are 6 of 32 on third-down conversions (4-17 today). The last time NU held two straight opponents to less than 200 total offense yards was Texas Tech (127), Kansas (48) and Oklahoma (154) in 1997 (NU shutout TTU and Kansas and held OU to seven points). Cal has not scored a touchdown in Nebraska in the last two years as NU defeated Cal 24-3 in 1998 and 45-0 this year. In today?s game, Cal place-kicker Ignacio Brache missed on field-goal attempts of 35 and 42 yards, both of which hit the left upright of the South end zone goal post. The Huskers tacked on five sacks including 1-6 by Jeremy Slechta, 1-8 by Tony Ortiz, 1-9 by Carlos Polk who was the team?s leading tackler with seven stops including two for losses, 1-6 by Eric Johnson and 1-8 by Randy Stella who was celebrating his 20th birthday.
* While Iowa did not get called for a single penalty last week, Cal was tagged for 110 yards on 14 penalties. Nebraska has not had a 100-yard rushing game by an individual Husker since Eric Crouch had 108 vs. Kansas State last year (four straight games). Nebraska?s leading rusher was No. 3 I-back Dahrran Diedrick who had 29 yards on five carries. That is the lowest total for a Husker leading rusher since Eric Crouch led the team with 28 against Arizona in the Holiday Bowl last season. Nebraska had its lowest rushing total (114) since rushing for 73 yards in a 24-17 win against Oklahoma State last year (Oct. 3).