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Punt return helps Nebraska bounce back

By John Adams, News-Sentinel sports editor
January 2, 2000

Bobby Newcombe has started at quarterback and wingback for Nebraska. He has thrown passes and caught them.

But his greatest play began with a Kansas punt.

The Jayhawks were leading 9-3 with only 2:14 to play in the third quarter when they punted to Newcombe on the Nebraska 14-yard line. Eighty-six yards later, Nebraska football turned a brighter shade of red.

The Cornhuskers' 24-17 victory against Kansas State began a five-game winning streak that carried them all the way to Tempe, Ariz., for a Fiesta Bowl meeting with Tennessee.

"You're always worried about how things will transpire after a loss," Nebraska coach Frank Solich said. "Our players ended up responding in the second half against Kansas. That was a turning point."

The Cornhuskers' drive to Tempe went like this:

NEBRASKA 42, IOWA 7: Despite the lopsided score, the Cornhuskers offered a glimpse of their dark side. They only led 7-0 at halftime because of two turnovers.

Nebraska also established its salty defense. Iowa didn't make a first down until its last possession of the first half.

Quarterback Eric Crouch rushed for 93 yards on only five carries.

NEBRASKA 45, CALIFORNIA 0: Crouch ran for a touchdown, passed for another and caught a 60-yard pass from Newcombe for a third score.

Tight end Tracey Wistrom contributed to the onslaught with two catches for 70 and 32 yards.

Middle linebacker Carlos Polk, a first-team All-Big 12 selection, had a team-high seven tackles, including a sack, and two tackles behind the line.

NEBRASKA 20, SOUTHERN MISS 13: Sophomore Keyuo Craver saved the day for the Cornhuskers with an interception on the Nebraska 6. His second interception of the fourth quarter came with only 2:38 to play, after USM had driven to Nebraska's 14.

Nebraska's defense had five sacks and helped force six turnovers, but its offense managed only 183 yards, its lowest output in six years.

NEBRASKA 40, MISSOURI 10: The Tigers, who were averaging 310 yards per game rushing, gained only 25 yards against Nebraska.

Senior linebacker Julius Jackson set up two touchdowns, with a fumble recovery and an interception.

Missouri had 103 yards total offense, before a scoring drive on its last possession against Nebraska reserves.

Nebraska tailback Correll Buckhalter rushed for 132 yards on 14 carries.

NEBRASKA 38, OKLAHOMA STATE 14: The Cornhuskers jumped to a 31-0 lead, then played a lackluster second half against the Cowboys.

Wistrom caught four passes for 116 yards, and Crouch had 201 yards of total offense against an Oklahoma State team that ranked third nationally in defense after the first month of the season.

NEBRASKA 49, IOWA STATE 14: The Cornhuskers rushed for a season-high 439 yards. Buckhalter and Dan Alexander each rushed for more than 100 yards by the end of the third quarter. Nebraska's third tailback, Dahrran Diedrick, had 99 yards rushing.

It was Nebraska's 31st consecutive homecoming victory.

TEXAS 24, NEBRASKA 20: Longhorns quarterback Major Applewhite, who shared the Big 12 Co-Offensive Player of the Year with Crouch, completed 8-of-9 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns in the second half. He threw an 18-yard, game-winning touchdown pass to tight end Mike Jones with 5:51 to play.

Nebraska drove to Texas' 38 on its last possession, but Crouch threw two incompletions to kill the drive.

Turnovers killed the Cornhuskers. Crouch fumbled an option pitch on a fourth-and-2 at Texas' 38 late in the third quarter; Alexander fumbled on a third-and-goal from the Texas 4 in the fourth quarter.

NEBRASKA 24, KANSAS 17: In addition to his 86-yard punt return, Newcombe broke a 17-17 tie by turning a short pass into a 49-yard touchdown play with 3:24 left in the fourth quarter.

Newcombe had 200 all-purpose yards for the game.

Kansas quarterback Dylan Smith completed 16-of-30 passes for 217 yards against the Cornhuskers, who failed to score at least 30 points on the Jayhawks for the first time in 24 years.

NEBRASKA 37, TEXAS A&M 0: Crouch and Alexander each rushed for more than 130 yards, but rover Mike Brown was the star.

Brown caused two fumbles and intercepted two passes. He also had nine tackles, including a sack.

The outcome might have been worse for the Aggies if they hadn't recovered two Nebraska fumbles in the first half.

NEBRASKA 41, KANSAS STATE 15: Crouch ran for a career-high 158 yards, including 124 in the first half, and Diedrick tacked on a 46-yard touchdown run in the second half.

Kansas State starting quarterback Justin Beasley completed only 3-of-19 passes for 100 yards. Mike Brown set up two third-quarter touchdowns, with an interception and a forced fumble.

Nebraska was so dominant on both sides of the ball, its school-record 10 fumbles weren't a factor.

NEBRASKA 33, COLORADO 30: Crouch scored on a 1-yard dive in overtime after Jeremy Aldrich missed a 34-yard field goal on the last play of regulation for Colorado.

Nebraska blew a 24-point, fourth-quarter lead as Mike Moschetti threw for three touchdowns.

Colorado had 504 yards total offense, by far the most allowed by Nebraska this season.

Alexander had 151 yards rushing in the first half for Nebraska, which had only 88 yards total offense in the second half.

NEBRASKA 22, TEXAS 6: The Cornhuskers ended a three-game losing streak to Texas in winning the Big 12 Championship Game at the Alamo Dome in San Antonio.

Nebraska sacked Applewhite seven times and had three interceptions. The Cornhuskers' defense also recovered a fumble and scored a safety when a shotgun snap sailed through the Texas end zone.

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