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Huskers Get A Lift From A Travelling Sea Of Red

A Rivalry Awakens
Nebraska Prevails 27-24 In Overtime Tussle With Notre Dame

--  by Mark Fricke
     September 09, 2000

 

After 52 regular season apart, the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Notre Dame Fighting Irish met in South Bend Saturday and found they still had much in common. They both featured an athletic play-making quarterback, both had a rabid fan base, and after 60 minutes of football, they both also shared the same score.

Over eighty-thousand fans, 30,00 of which wore Husker red, watched the two teams trade big play punches like heavy weight boxers in the middle of the ring. At the end of regulation, the teams settled nothing as they went to overtime tied 21-21. The Cornhuskers chose to start the overtime period on defense and held Notre Dame to a field goal. Then the number one ranked Huskers turned to Heisman candidate quarterback Eric Crouch who took the ball over the left side on an option keeper and barely outran the Irish defense to the corner of the end zone for a seven yard overtime touchdown run and a 27-24 victory.

"That is kind of our bread and butter play." Crouch said. "We use it on the goal line, we use it when we're looking for big plays. There is no other option on that but for me to run."

Perhaps the biggest play in the overtime period occurred two plays before the touchdown. Facing a third and nine with the ball on the 24, Crouch fired a pass over the middle to tight end Tracey Wistrom for a first down. The play caught Notre Dame head coach Bob Davie off guard.

"I thought they were going with a quarterback draw or to the fullback." Davie said.

Crouch had provided the much needed spark for the Huskers all afternoon long by rushing for two regulation touchdowns, including a 62-yard scamper in the first period. Crouch rushed for 80 yards in the game and passed for another 103 yards by completing 7 of 15 attempts.

The Huskers provided the game's first score late in the first period. Eric Crouch capped a 3-play drive with a career-best tying long 62 yard option run for a touchdown.

Notre Dame came back on their next drive, marching 82 yards in eleven plays. Tony Fisher took the ball in from 2-yards out for the score. The drive was aided by runs of 14 and 19 yards from quarterback Arnaz Battle. Battle's scrambling ability kept many plays alive long past their normal expiration.He led the Irish with 107 rushing yards on 14 carries. He completed 3 of 15 attempts for 40 yards and 1 interception.

"Arnaz can beat you with legs more than arm." Davie said. "He can throw much better than he did today, but I love the way he competed."

The Huskers regained the lead later in the second period on a 1-yard dive by Crouch. At the half the Huskers held on to a 14-7 margin.

Nebraska widened their lead in the third period when I-Back Dan Alexander raced in from 28-yards out for Nebraska's third touchdown. Then the Notre Dame magic appeared to kick in.

On the ensuing kickoff Julius Jones sprinted 100 yards for a touchdown to pull within seven points. They made up that gap in the fourth when Joey Getherall retuned a punt 83 yards for another touchdown to tie the score. Notre Dame's return game kept the Irish in fighting distance by providing 113 yards of returns on punts and 204 yards of kickoff returns. Their total return yardage out-gained the Notre Dame offense who finished with 224 total yards.

"We had a complete collapse in special teams. That's the bottom line." Said Husker head coach Frank Solich.

Neither team was able to push the ball enough to threaten another score before the end of the game. The final chance belonged to Notre Dame when they took possession at the Nebraska 30 with 1:07 on the clock in regulation. Two runs by Battle netted 7 yards before head coach Davie elected to let the clock run and go to overtime.

"I agree with Coach Davie on letting the clock run out. " said Husker coach Solich. "The last thing you want in that situation is a turnover."

The overtime period was the third such stanza for the Huskers in their history. They are now 3-0 in overtime decisions with previous wins over Missouri in 1997 and Colorado in 1999. Notre Dame, however, is now 0-3 in the extra period.

"We knew we just had to maintain. This team showed character." Said linebacker Carlos Polk. "We knew that if we play the way we're capable of playing we would come away with a win."

The Huskers turned in their usual power performance on offense. They rushed for 274 yards and passed for another 103. Alexander led all rushers with 112 yards on the ground. Notre Dame finished with 184 yards rushing.

 
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©2000 Husker Press Box

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09/11/00 What happened on special teams? I've... Tom
09/11/00 An awesome game! I know every team... Jim Swoboda
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