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From: Sports | College |
Sunday, September 10, 2000

Crouch's Dash
Beats Irish in OT

Daily News Sports Writer

ebraska senior quarterback Eric Crouch could have been wearing Notre Dame colors, helping to wake up the echoes on this campus.

Instead, he will always be just another ghost who haunts this storied program.

Crouch scored three touchdowns yesterday — including a seven-yard dash in sudden-death overtime — as the top-ranked Cornhuskers outlasted the Irish, 27-24, before a sellout crowd of 82,032 at Notre Dame Stadium.

NBC must have loved the drama that ended with Crouch spinning the ball in the end zone before he was mobbed by teammates.

But this was hardly Nebraska at its finest.

Crouch rescued a faltering power offense that only produced 274 yards rushing in 59 carries and looked winded for most of the fourth quarter. He bailed out an ugly special teams unit that surrendered two blockbuster scores — a 100-yard kickoff return by Julius Jones and an 83-yard punt return by Joey Getherall. And he also helped temporarily preserve Nebraska's national ranking, leaving a reminder of what might have been.

Before Crouch entered his senior year at Omaha Millard North High School, he attended Notre Dame's summer football camp. The Irish wound up recruiting him as an athlete, but the coaching staff refused to commit to him as a quarterback.

"You can look back and say, 'What if, what if,' things might be different," Crouch said. "But I felt Nebraska was the place for me. They ran the option. I don't regret the decision. I wasn't sure if Notre Dame wanted me to play quarterback. After I made the decision they said, 'No, no, we wanted you to play quarterback.' I said, 'It's a little too late now.'"

Crouch, who has run a 4.45 electronically timed 40 and a 10.37 100 meters, used a burst of speed to break loose for a 62-yard touchdown run at the end of the first quarter. So much for those comments from Notre Dame cornerback Brock Williams, who claimed Crouch had just average speed.

He also set up the game-winner with a nine-yard pass to tight end Tracy Wistrom on a third-and-9from the 24 that gave the Huskers a critical first down at the Notre Dame 15-yard line. Two plays later, he scored on a quarterback duck behind a key block by 245 pound I-back Dan Alexander, who leveled Williams, much to the relief of the Big Red fans who flooded the stadium.

More than 25,000 Nebraska fans found their way into the stadium. Scalpers were asking — and getting — upwards of $500 a ticket. "I don't know how they all got in," Crouch said. "They must have either stolen them or beat people up on the outside to get them."

Related Stories
College Football Roundup: Gamecocks Win Again, Shock No. 9 Georgia (9/10/00)
Irish Fight for Respect vs. Huskers (9/8/00)
Notre Dame Has Its Irish Up for Huskers (9/7/00)

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