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Notre Dame

  with...The Grand Rapids Press

Nebraska has no trouble with Notre Dame, 27-10

Sunday, September 9, 2001

By Howie Beardsley

LINCOLN, Neb. -- The beat goes on for fifth-ranked Nebraska.

And, unfortunately, for No. 17 Notre Dame.

The Cornhuskers took advantage of an out-of-kilter Notre Dame offense and with their typical home success to overwhelm the Fighting Irish 27-10 Saturday night.

The win was the Cornhuskers' 16th straight in Lincoln, their 52nd win in the last 53 home games dating back to 1992, and their 84th in the past 87.

As for coach Frank Solich, he's now 9-6 in four seasons against Top 25 opponents, and 5-0 against ranked teams at home.

Meanwhile, the road woes continue for the Irish. In coach Bob Davie's five seasons, Notre Dame is now 1-10 on the road against ranked foes, and 1-6 in night games away from home.

The game was a much-anticipated one ever since then-No. 1 Nebraska escaped from Notre Dame Stadium last September with a 27-24 overtime win.

Needless to say, it was not a game for the ages.

Notre Dame continued to prove itself road weary very early Saturday when the Irish fell behind 17-0 in the first quarter. And their first-quarter problems were largely due to a mistake-prone offense that prided itself on protecting the football during last year's 9-3 season, when Notre Dame tied an NCAA record with just eight turnovers.

After quarterback Eric Crouch and Co. toyed with the Notre Dame defense with a game-opening drive that traveled 64 yards on nine plays, and ended on Dahrran Diedrick's 2-yard touchdown run, the Irish offense self-destructed with miscues.

On Notre Dame's first snap, tailback Terrance Howard fumbled at the Nebraska 22-yard line to set up Crouch's touchdown pass to John Gibson one play later.

A little more than 3 minutes later, long-snapper John Crowther sailed the football over the head of punter Joey Hildbold for a loss of 45 yards to the Irish 8. That allowed Sandro DeAngelis to kick a 19-yard field goal to make it a 17-0 score with 3:50 left in the opening quarter.

Because of the errant snap, Notre Dame finished the period with minus-62 rushing yards and a negative 23 total yards of offense compared with the Cornhuskers' 98 offensive yards. The Irish didn't gain a first down until the 2:15 mark of the first stanza, and were forced into third-and-long situations throughout the night.

Nebraska finished with 182 rushing yards and 270 offensive yards. Notre Dame was held to 43 yards on the ground and 126 total.

In an attempt to shake up his lethargic offense, Davie replaced starting quarterback Matt LoVecchio early in the second quarter with fellow sophomore Carlyle Holiday. Holiday used his first taste of college playing time to lead the Irish to a 10-play, 64-yard march for Nick Setta's 29-yard field goal.

But that did little to help the defense contain a Nebraska offense that concluded the first half with a 3-yard Diedrick touchdown run and a 21-yard field goal from DeAngelis.

Things could have been much worse for Notre Dame had Crouch not fumbled the ball away at the Irish 34 midway through the first quarter, and at the ND 8-yard line at the 2:50 mark of the quarter.

Holiday and LoVecchio continued to take turns on the field during an off and on rainy second half. Holiday led a 10-play drive in the waning minutes of the third quarter, only to be intercepted by free safety Willie Amos at the Cornhusker 5.

Thanks to Shane Walton's block of a Kyle Larson punt at the Nebraska 4, the Irish, with LoVecchio at the controls, began the fourth quarter using four plays to get Tony Fisher into the end zone with a 1-yard run to place the deficit at 27-10.


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