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      Kansas State quarterback Adam Helm fumbled the ball as he was sacked by Nebraska's Kyle Vanden Bosch late in the fourth quarter Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb. The fumble was recovered by the Huskers and carried in for a touchdown.
    Scott D. Weaver/The Capital-Journal

    Crouch crushes Cats
    Wildcats' offensive struggles continue

    The Capital-Journal

    LINCOLN, Neb. -- Crouch rhymes with slouch, but don't ask a Kansas State football player to use both of those words in the same sentence.

    Ouch works better.

    Eric Crouch, Nebraska's active sophomore quarterback, shredded the Wildcats for 158 yards rushing, 69 passing and produced two touchdowns Saturday to help the seventh-ranked Huskers hand the fifth-ranked Wildcats their first defeat, 41-15, in sold-out Memorial Stadium.

    "He got 150 some-odd yards, and that's awfully doggone good when you're a quarterback," K-State coach Bill Snyder said. "He found the answer on us last year (when Crouch gained 108 yards in NU's 40-30 loss), and we didn't. He did a very nice job executing their offense."

    photo: sports

      Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch celebrated with teammate Wilson Thomas after Crouch ran in a touchdown in the first half.
    Chris Ochsner/The Capital-Journal

    The loss snapped a 21-game winning streak in Big 12 regular-season games for K-State. More importantly, however, it took the Cats (9-1, 6-1) out of the national championship hunt and, unless Colorado upsets Nebraska on Nov. 26, out of the Big 12 championship picture.

    That's a tough haymaker, yet one the Huskers, also 9-1 and 6-1, started delivering early.

    "It became obvious that there were some things we could get done against them," said Nebraska coach Frank Solich, "even though they've got a really good defensive team."

    NU scored on three of four possessions midway through the first half and after the one march that didn't work, it still managed a safety when Randy Stella blocked a punt by K- State's Mike Ronsick through the end zone.

    The touchdowns came on drives of 44, 73 and 62 yards and featured 18 gains engineered by Crouch. In addition, the Huskers had 18 gains of five or more yards in the first half, hurting the Cats most by using Crouch on the option, ducking him up under K-State's containment, or springing tight end Tracey Wistrom, who grabbed four passes for 68 yards in the half.

    K-State did a nice job tightening down on Crouch in the third quarter, forcing him once into a 14-yard loss on a pass he caught after it was deflected by K-State tackle Cliff Holloman.

    "I'm not so sure we played horribly on defense," Snyder said. "It was just the fact the kicking game, the field position, the offense -- coupled with giving up some plays -- left our defense on the field a little more than they should have been."

    Attributing to that overkill was the precious little time Jonathan Beasley has managed the past two weeks on the practice field.

    K-State's junior quarterback has been nursing various aches, Snyder revealed, including a strained shoulder. It obviously affected his mechanics against the Huskers, overthrowing several times during a painful 3-for-19 performance.

    For the second week in a row, senior Adam Helm came on in relief in the second half, but he also was ineffective, except for a 40-yard TD drive he engineered after the Huskers had gone up 34-9.

    "It's not just his fault. You can't just blame it on Jonathan," said David Allen, who gained just 18 yards on nine carries after starting at tailback. "When you can't run the ball, and you can't throw it, either, you have no business being on the field with a team like Nebraska."

    Three blown opportunities, all of which came prior to game-sealing back-to-back scores by the Huskers (a 30-yard field goal by Josh Brown and a 46-yard TD burst by Dahrran Diedrick) within a 1:13 span early in the final period, doomed the Cats.

    They included:

  • �A recovery by Lamar Chapman, one of three the Cats produced on a school-record 10 fumbles by the Huskers, after Darren Howard jarred the ball from NU's Dan Alexander on the very first play. The takeaway gave K-State the ball at NU's 28, but it had to call on Jamie Rheem for a 40-yard field goal attempt, which was blocked by Kyle Vanden Bosch.

    "I was a little disappointed we were trying a field goal there to begin with," Snyder said. "But then the game was still 0-0 after that, which was a lot better than it was later."

  • �Another drive to close the half that reached the NU 18 after Quincy Morgan broke a screen (one of the Cats' eight receptions) 55 yards. It stalled after Beasley misfired three straight times and K-State had to settle for a 35-yard field goal by Rheem and a 24-9 halftime deficit.

    "We were just unable to get anything going, other than at the end of the half (when) we got a play," Snyder said. "But outside of that, not a whole lot to write home about."

  • �Another backfire to begin the second half cost the Cats again after Allen busted a 55-yard kickoff return to the NU 44. Beasley was called for intentional grounding on third-and-7 from the 41, spoiling any chance K-State had of getting points out of Allen's run-back.

    "It wasn't enough," Allen said. "Things just didn't work out the way we wanted them, too."

    No doubt. K-State finished with 234 total yards and just 11 first downs. The Cats only converted on three of 15 third-down tries, while turning the ball over five times and getting two punts blocked. Of the Huskers' points, 26 came off K-State mistakes.

    Plus, the Cats couldn't convert the gifts Nebraska was offering with all its fumbles.

    "You can't come into Nebraska's house and fail to capitalize," said K-State defensive end Monty Beisel, "because they'll take advantage of every mistake you make." is a product of
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