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Huskers confident on last play
Crouch uses speed to give Nebraska win
For the Star-Herald
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Dominic Raiola stood in the huddle, listening as the play came in from the sideline.
The Huskers were trailing Notre Dame, 24-21, in overtime Saturday, facing second down and three yards to go from the Notre Dame seven. Having just salvaged a first down on third down and nine from the 24-yard line, the Huskers were revving up, just like the stadium crowd.
That’s when the play was called in the huddle – an option designed for quarterback Eric Crouch to keep the ball and head to the outside. Crouch called out the signals, and Raiola looked up.
“Touchdown,” Raiola said. “End zone. This is going in.”
He lined up at the line of scrimmage and after the snap, Crouch ran wide, blowing into the end zone, deflating Notre Dame’s hopes and salvaging Nebraska’s bid for a national championship
“There is no other option on that,” Crouch said, “but for me to run it.”
His teammates knew that as well.
“Everybody busted their blocks and got guys out of the way on that play,” Raiola said. “It was such a great feeling. Right when they called that play in the huddle, I knew we were going to score right then.”
Crouch blazed to the corner of the end zone. It is a play that often has worked for Nebraska, especially in clutch situations.
“That is kind of like a bread and butter play for us,” Crouch said. “We use it on the goal line. We use it when we’re looking for big plays. We get great blocking on that play.”
The play opened up so well that it almost seemed like it does in practice for Raiola.
“They were going to try to plug the middle up,” Raiola said, “and we ran right outside of them.”
Head coach Frank Solich said the Huskers knew the option was their best option.
“Basically, if the offense was shut down, which it was, the plan was to get in front of Crouch and run,” Solich said with a shrug of his shoulders. “(Eric) has great athletic ability that we can count on. He will make the big play. We have our best opportunity to get it done when the ball is in Eric’s hands. However, I really want to give credit to the other players, too.”


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