ISU falls behind early, loses big

Jeff Stell

LINCOLN, Neb. – The ISU football team outplayed Nebraska in the second half of Saturday night’s game in Lincoln. The only problem was the Cyclones were behind 41-0 at halftime.

The fourth-ranked Huskers cruised to a 48-14 victory Saturday in Memorial Stadium in a matchup of two teams that were unbeaten, but that’s where the similarities ended. The Huskers are now 6-0 while the Cyclones fall to 3-1.

The Huskers used a combination of Cyclone mistakes and a lethal rushing attack to put the game far out of reach by the second quarter. The Huskers scored six touchdowns and had nearly 300 yards of total offense in just the first half.

“It was complete domination by Nebraska in the first half,” ISU head coach Dan McCarney said. “We didn’t block, we didn’t tackle, we didn’t do anything on special teams and we didn’t do a good job of coaching.”

Husker quarterback Eric Crouch shredded the Cyclone defense, weaving his way to 104 yards on 13 carries and four touchdowns. Crouch scored three times on short runs and broke loose for a 25-yard touchdown run.

The four touchdowns moved Crouch’s career total to 52 which broke the NCAA record for career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. The old record was 49 held by former Ohio quarterback Kareem Wilson.

“Eric Crouch is as good as there is in college football,” McCarney said. “He’s a legitimate Heisman candidate and is as good as I’ve coached against.”

The Huskers used an efficient ground game as their five scoring drives were all under four minutes. The Huskers’ other first half touchdown took just one play as Keyou Craver returned an interception 57 yards for a score.

Crouch had 100 yards on the ground in the first half while the I-back duo of Thunder Collins and Dahrran Diedrick combined for 112 yards.

“We had a game plan that we knew was going to be successful, and we did a great job in the first half,” Crouch said.

Coming off a brilliant performance last week against Baylor, Cyclone quarterback Seneca Wallace was swarmed by an aggressive Husker defense.

Wallace got off to a disastrous start as his third pass was intercepted for a touchdown and he finished just 4-of-14 in the first half. Wallace shook off the bad start to have a much better second half.

“I thought he [Wallace] handled himself well throughout the game,” Husker coach Frank Solich said. “A lot of times a player can fall apart after two early interceptions, and I thought he came back off of that and still made plays for them.”

The Husker defense held Big 12 leading rusher Ennis Haywood to 61 yards on 20 carries.

“The defense played a great game, and if it wasn’t for them, I think it would’ve been a lot more difficult to keep the momentum on our side,” Crouch said.

The second half saw the Cyclones start to move the ball and put points on the board. Wallace scored on a 17-yard run and tossed a touchdown pass of 13 yards to Lance Young.

Wallace’s touchdown run showed his tremendous ability to elude tacklers as he rolled all the way to his left and then went back across the field, dodging several tacklers, to reach the far right side of the end zone.

“In the second half, I challenged them to at least show the fiber and character of this football team,” McCarney said. “When you’re down like that, it’s no fun to play or coach, but you find out if people will come and respond and react to real bad adversity, and I think the kids did that in the second half.”