What would you
like to see
Crouchs touchdown in overtime lifts Nebraska
over Notre Dame
By BOB SCHALLER
For the Star-Herald
SOUTH BEND, Ind. And on the ninth day of September in the A.D. 2000, Touchdown
Jesus got seven.
From Nebraskas Eric Crouch.
The Husker quarterback saved his teams bid for a national championship, resurrecting
hopes that only minutes earlier seemed lost, as Nebraska won at hallowed Notre Dame, 27-24
Saturday in front of 80,232 fans nearly one-third cheering for the visitors.
This team never gives up, Crouch said. This is a big day. One I will
Right in the shadows of Notre Dames Touchdown Jesus, Crouch scored on a
seven-yard run in overtime. In the opening overtime possession Notre Dame could manage
only a field goal after Jeremy Slechta sacked quarterback Arnaz Battle.
We kept coming back and coming back, Battle said. It just wasnt
enough. We have to come out next week, play hard and try to get a win.
Nebraskas special teams were beyond inept, surrendering both a kickoff and punt
return for touchdowns in the second half.
Im not real sure what to say, other than that Im so proud of this
football team for the way they battled back, said Nebraska head coach Frank Solich.
All of that momentum was taken from us, but our kids believed in themselves and in
Statistically outside of special teams Nebraska dominated. The Huskers had
274 rushing yards (to 184 for Notre Dame). The Huskers had 103 passing yards (to 40 for
I think Nebraska is a heck of a football team, said Notre Dame coach Bob
Davie, who was second-guessed about not going for at least a field goal instead
choosing to run out the clock in regulation. We had opportunities to win the
game. It is really disappointing to have it turn out this way. To have an opportunity to
beat the No. 1 team in the nation at home and to lose is very disappointing. But I have a
lot of respect for Nebraska.
The Huskers nearly gave up the farm in the return game. Notre Dame had 204 kickoff return
yards and 113 punt return yards. By contrast, Nebraska had just 61 combined return yards.
Dan Alexander, who had a slow start, came back strong in the second half to finish with
112 yards on 24 carries. Crouch had 80 yards rushing and 103 passing.
The two led the way to Nebraskas complete control of the early third quarter.
After Crouch hit Tracey Wistrom with a first-down pass, the Huskers came right back with a
run up the middle. Alexander split the tackles on first down from the Notre Dame 28, going
the distance. With 8:47 left in the third quarter, Nebraska had extended the lead to 21-7
following the four-play, 59-yard drive.
Nebraskas special teams continued to struggle. After allowing two kickoff returns of
more than 40 yards, the Huskers gave up the entire distance: Julius Jones followed
Alexanders touchdown with one of his own, going 100 yards on the ensuing kickoff.
He is a difference-maker when he gets his hands on the ball, Davie said.
When Julius gets the ball, he explodes.
Jones never had a Husker within yards of him after kicker Dan Hadenfeldt dove and missed
We made some plays, Jones said. But not enough.
That brought Notre Dame within a touchdown, 21-14, with 8:30 remaining in the third
The Huskers started marching right down the field at that point, but fullback Judd Davies
couldnt hold on to a Crouch pass, batting the ball up in the air for an easy Notre
Dame interception. Through three quarters, Nebraska doubled up Notre Dame on first downs
(16 to eight), more than doubled it up rushing (248 to 101) and even passing (91 yards to
34). Yet Nebraska led only 21-14 at that point.
The Irish tied the score in the fourth quarter the same way they had gotten within
a touchdown with a return for six points. This time it was a punt, not a kickoff
return. Notre Dames 5-foot-7, 170-pound senior, Joey Getherall, returned
Hadenfeldts punt 83 yards, tying the score at 21-21 with 12:48 left in the game. The
last time a punt was returned for a touchdown against Nebraska was on Sept. 10, 1988, at
UCLA Darryl Henley went 75 yards.
The Huskers got on the scoreboard first and stayed on top most of the game. On the second
series of the first half, Crouch ran the option to perfection, breaking free for a 62-yard
touchdown run to put Nebraska ahead 7-0 with 1:10 left in the opening quarter.
Crouchs run was the longest TD run against Notre Dame since 1984, when LSUs
Dalton Hilliard went 66 yards for a score on Oct. 27.
Despite gaining four first-quarter first downs and holding Notre Dame to just two (one of
which came via a penalty) Nebraska led just 7-0 at the end of the first quarter. The
Huskers had 145 yards of total offense in the first quarter, while the Irish had 51
including just nine passing yards.
Though Battle didnt complete a pass in the second quarter, the Irish tied the score.
on a long 11 play, 82 yard drive that took 5:26 off the clock. Tony Fisher finished off
the drive, running into the end zone from two yards out. With 10:44 left in the first
half, the score was tied, 7-7.
The Huskers answered, though. Taking over at the 35-yard line after the Notre Dame
kick-off went out of bounds, the Huskers drove down the field. Fourteen of the 15 plays on
the drive were runs. But after getting inside the 15-yard line, Nebraska had to burn two
timeouts. Finally, the Huskers went up the middle, with fullback Willie Miller get to the
one-yard line on third down.
Facing fourth and goal, Crouch went over the top of the pile. The 65-yard drive last 8:20
and put Nebraska ahead, with 2:24 left in the first half.
At the half, Nebraska had 218 yards of total offense, including 162 rushing. Crouch was
three-of-seven passing for 56 yards, including a 36-yarder to Bobby Newcombe. Crouch ran
for 89 yards on 11 carries in the first half. Dan Alexander quieted his Heisman hype by
gaining just 25 yards on nine carries in the first half. He slipped on consecutive option
plays to the outside, forcing Nebraska to rush up the middle, as Crouch became the only