Crouch's Career Day Tops Tigers, 36-3
Columbia, Mo. (AP) -- Eric Crouch's end zone-to-end zone trip turned a somewhat tense situation into another easy Nebraska victory.
The fourth-ranked Cornhuskers were leading 16-3 and backed up near their goal line when Crouch faded to pass, spun away from a tackler, deked two defenders at the 20 and then won a sprint to the end zone. His 95-yard run was the longest in school history, and it led to a 36-3 win over Missouri on Saturday.
"It was probably a big momentum shifter," said Crouch, who rushed for a school quarterback-record 191 yards on 17 carries. "I know the game was not totally in our control at that time."
Dahrran Diedrick scored two touchdowns for Nebraska (5-0), which has a 23-game winning streak against Missouri (1-2) since 1978, with an average score of 38-14.
The Huskers, playing their first road game of the season, were far from perfect. They had two turnovers and a blocked field-goal attempt in the first quarter, and later botched an extra-point kick.
"It's a four-quarter game, that's just the way it is," said Coach Frank Solich. "There are a lot of teams that are going to have problems at different times in games, there are going to be teams that have problems all game long."
But Crouch's run certainly stood out. His record run put Nebraska ahead 22-3 with 2:21 to go in the third quarter.
"I saw a lot of green and I took the opportunity to run the ball," Crouch said. "I was just trying to get as many yards as I could, trying to get to that end zone, and there was a lot of daylight out there for me to make some moves and try to get something going.
"I kind of amazed myself."
The run bettered the record of 94 yards set by Craig Johnson on Oct. 13, 1979 against Kansas, and matched by Roger Craig on Sept. 19, 1981 against Florida State. Crouch eclipsed the quarterback mark of 174 yards set by Gerry Gdowski against Iowa State in 1989.
"They're just waiting for that kind of play, where he can get into the open field and hurt you," said Missouri linebacker Sean Doyle. "That's when teams usually fold against them."
Crouch added a 15-yard TD run with 9:56 to go for a 29-3 lead, and finished with 311 yards in total offense. He was 8-for-14 for 120 yards and an interception.
"You get used to that with Eric," Solich said. "He's given us those kind of plays throughout the course of his time at Nebraska and they're always appreciated when they come, believe me.
"But he's had so many of them."
Diedrick scored on runs of 4 and 1 yards in the second quarter as Nebraska recovered from a shaky start. He had 86 yards on 24 carries and has seven touchdowns on the year.
Jammal Lord added a 1-yard run with 4:18 remaining.
Missouri was unable to keep pace despite the return of junior quarterback Kirk Farmer, who tore a knee ligament in the second game of the season. Farmer was 15-for-39 for 128 yards for the Tigers, coming off a three-week layoff.
"I didn't make enough plays to win," said Farmer. "We had some good plays, but I missed a lot of throws and you're not going to beat Nebraska like that."
Missouri has 16 points in its two games against I-A competition.
"It wasn't a real fun day for me," said coach Gary Pinkel. "I didn't get in this business to do this. I don't like this.
"It's my job to fix it and I'm going to get that done."
Nebraska, which had outscored opponents 65-14 in the first quarter, stumbled out of the gate this time. The Cornhuskers trailed 3-0 on Brad Hammerich's 28-yard field goal.
Diedrick's TDs gave Nebraska a 13-3 lead. The second score came with 23 seconds to go and came one play after Wilson Thomas caught an underthrown pass from Crouch for a 37-yard gain.
"To get points right before the half, that was a very big play," Solich said. "He was fairly well-covered, he just went up and took the ball away."
Postgame Notes...Sept. 29, 2001
The No. 4/4 Nebraska Cornhuskers improved to 5-0 on the season with a 36-3 win to open Big 12 Conference play at Missouri. The win for the Huskers was Nebraska's seventh straight overall; NU's 23rd consecutive over Missouri; the Huskers 13th consecutive win in Columbia; Coach Frank Solich's fourth straight over the Tigers in four tries; Nebraska's fifth straight win in road openers; snapped a rare two-game road losing streak; and gave Coach Solich a 26-0 record vs. Missouri (3-0 as a player, 19-0 as an assistant, 4-0 as a head coach).
Nebraska had a slow start, hampered by two turnovers in the first quarter. Quarterback Eric Crouch threw his third interception of the season, and DeJuan Groce fumbled a punt return. Both turnovers took place inside the Missouri 30-yard line and the Husker defense held the Tigers as they were unable to convert either turnover. Missouri scored first on a 28-yard field goal by Brad Hammerich with 4:51 remaining in the first quarter. It marked the second time Nebraska has trailed this season (also vs. Troy State). Nebraska did not record a first down and had just 62 yards in the first quarter compared to Missouri