Husker fans join in patriotic tribute (photo:Gail Folda)
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Nebraska Returns To The Field With 48-3 Win Over Rice
By Mark Fricke
September 20, 2001
Emotions ran high inside Memorial Stadium in Lincoln as the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Rice Owls tried to get lives back to normal and finally play their matchup that had been delayed five days due to the attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania last week. Nebraska showed they were ready start up back where they left off by rolling the Rice Owls for a 48-3 victory.
Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch dominated the game by rushing 12 times for 97 yards and two touchdowns, and throwing for another 165 yards and three touchdowns. In the game Crouch became the Big XII Conferences all-time rushing quarterback leader, passing Missouri's Corby Jones.
"I don’t think you can get much more done than what he got done tonight," said Husker he3ad coach Frank Solich. "I thought he was special. I don’t think there’s any question aboutthat. I thought it was just a complete football game for him."
I-Back Dahrran Diedrick rushed for 74 yards on 13 carries. Wilson Thomas caught four passes for 76 yards and one score. Tight end Tracey Wistrom grabbed four tosses for 67 yards and two touchdowns.
Pre-game ceremonies were held to honor the victims as well as the rescue workers involved in the tragedies. Rousing patriotic songs and a special card section in the stands spelling out U-S-A made way to a somber moment of silence. The players from both teams joined the band on the field for the singing of the National Anthem.
The traditional video tunnel walk that usually signaled the Cornhuskers entrance on the field was altered slightly to include patriotic messages, and climaxed with a view of police, firefighters and medical personnel walking out of the Husker lockerrooms.
Nebraska kept their emotional level high once the game began, powering their way to a 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Nebraska opened the scoring on their third play of the game when Crouch connected with Wistrom on a 37 yard pass to go up 7-0 with 12:22 left.
Nebraska's next drive was an exercise in near perfection. Starting at the Rice 29, the Huskers used three plays, a 19 yard pass and run to Mike Stuntz, a 24 yard Crouch run and a 27 yard Crouch option, to set up their next score. Fullback Judd Davies took the ball in from three yards out for the second score.
Nebraska made it look easy on their third drive, charging 74 yards in four plays in 1:19 to score on a 42-yard pass to Wilson Thomas.
"I saw Eric throw the ball, and I made the catch. I thought I was out of bounds at the 1-yard line, but then I saw everyone start running towards me, and I knew it was good," Thomas said of the play.
The Huskers added a fourth touchdown late in the second period on a 6 yard run by Crouch.
Rice struggled to get things started in the first half. The Owls were called for five penalties in the first period alone. Their offense averaged 3.6 yards per play, compared to 16.7 for the Huskers.
Nebraska showed little let down in the second half by scoring on their first three drives of the half.
Crouch ran a the ball in from 25 yards out and followed that with an 11 yard scoring pass to Wistrom to make it 42-0 with 8:43 left in the third.
Reserve quarterback Jammal Lord stepped in and drove down 66 yard sto score on a 16 yard run by I-Back Thunder Collins.
Rice avoided the shutout when Brandon Skeen hit a 25-yard field goal with 7:49 left in the game. The Owls had two scoring chances earlier in the game but missed on field goal attempts in the second and fourth quarter.
The Owls best shot at crossing the goal line came in the game's final minute when they faced a second and goal at the Nebraska five, but free safety Carl Scholting intercepted a pass for the Huskers and ended the threat.
The Blackshirts performance amazed Rice quarterback Kyle Herm.
"Unbelievable, their defensive front is so fast. Their secondary guys are good enough to cover one-on-on, which allows them to bring everybody else up to stop the run," Herm said.
Nebraska finished the game with 497 total offensive yards. Rice gained 365 yards of offense.