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Crouch introduces himself to Irish
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Crouch introduces himself to Irish

By BLAIR KERKHOFF - The Kansas City Star
Date: 09/09/00 22:15

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame, meet Eric Crouch.

Earlier in the week, Irish linebacker Anthony Denman said the defense had to contain Nebraska quarterback Scott Frost.

Frost left Nebraska in 1998 and is currently with the New York Jets.

The Notre Dame defensive players who correctly identified Crouch said they were unconcerned with his speed.

Crouch etched his name in Irish minds and let defenders get a good glimpse at the back of his jersey in Nebraska's 27-24 overtime victory over Notre Dame on Saturday.

Three touchdowns, including the game-winner from 7 yards, is nothing new to Crouch. He led the nation in rushing touchdowns by a quarterback last season. But he apparently hadn't done enough to get Notre Dame's attention, until Saturday.

Crouch opened the scoring by taking an option right and sprinting 62 yards for a touchdown, the longest touchdown run against Notre Dame since 1984.

In the second quarter, Crouch followed center Dominic Raiola for a 1-yard score on fourth down for a 14-7 lead.

The third score came on an option left, but Crouch's biggest play occurred two snaps earlier. Nebraska faced third and 9 from the 24. A short gain or nothing here would have meant a 40-yard plus field goal attempt to send the game into another extra period.

Notre Dame set its defense to stop Crouch on a draw.

"That's what I expected them to do," Notre Dame coach Bob Davie said. "That or run the fullback."

Tight end Tracey Wistrom lined up on the right side and for the first time all day he didn't get bumped as he started his pattern, which called for him to go about 8 yards and fan out if the defense is in man coverage or hook if they're in a zone, which was the case.

"I was really surprised," Wistrom said. "I expected them to come out and do that again. I thought I would have to shake the (linebacker) at the line."

Instead, Wistrom went 8 yards, turned around and there was the ball. He needed 1 more yard for the first down and got it on a lunge, ending a streak of three series without a first down.

"I don't know what we would have done on fourth and inches," Wistrom said. "I'm just glad I didn't put coach (Frank) Solich in that position."

Crouch scored two plays later, capping a day in which he rushed for 80 yards and passed for 103. Not exactly Heisman Trophy numbers, but offensively he was the difference for Nebraska on Saturday.

The triumph was as sweet for Crouch as any Nebraska player. He attended a Notre Dame football camp before his senior year in high school, and the Irish said they were interested in him joining the Irish -- but not as a quarterback.

"Later they said I could play quarterback, but it was too late," Crouch said.

And too bad for Notre Dame, which would have prevented a case of mistaken identity Saturday.


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