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No. 1 Nebraska Enjoys Many Happy Returns

Big 12: Newcombe's school-record 95-yard punt return and Burrow's fumble return key 42-24 victory over Missouri.

October 01, 2000|From Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. — Eric Crouch needed a little help this time.

Crouch passed for two touchdowns and ran for another, but No. 1 Nebraska needed scoring returns by Bobby Newcombe and Jamie Burrow to hold off Missouri, 42-24, Saturday night.

Newcombe had a school-record 95-yard punt return late in the second quarter and Burrow, a linebacker, returned a fumble recovery 28 yards for a score in the third quarter.

"Make no mistake, we feel very, very good about winning this football game," Nebraska Coach Frank Solich said. "Bobby's punt return was huge."

Newcombe's return put Nebraska ahead, 21-7, and broke Johnny Rodgers' school record of 92 yards set against Oklahoma State in 1971.

Newcombe caught the ball at the Nebraska five, ran through one tackle right after the catch and went up the middle untouched. Andre Roberson nearly caught Newcombe at the five, but he was just out of reach and Newcombe had his fourth career punt-return touchdown.

"I just wanted to stand under it and catch the ball and run with it. Our guys did a great job blocking and we got a touchdown out of it," Newcombe said. "Any time you get a record it's pretty exciting. But this was Johnny Rodgers' record so that makes it even more special."

Rodgers, the 1972 Heisman Trophy winner who will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in December, was honored in a pregame ceremony.

Nebraska (4-0) never trailed after the first quarter, but the game was a lot closer that Solich would have liked. The Huskers won despite their worst defensive performance of the season.

The Cornhuskers gave up a season-high 492 yards to the Tigers (1-3), who scored their most points in Lincoln since winning, 35-31, in 1978--Missouri's last victory in the series.

Crouch has passed for eight touchdowns and run for seven this season. He rushed for 110 yards in 24 carries and was 11 of 23 for 173 yards with touchdown passes to Correll Buckhalter and Jon Bowling. Crouch added an eight-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that was the Cornhuskers' only offensive score of the second half.

Crouch hoped his performance proved he wasn't seriously injured last week against Iowa when he passed for five touchdowns. Crouch missed practice Monday and Tuesday.

"Yeah, I missed a couple of days of practice. But it was a physical game last week," Crouch said. "The rumors that I had broken my leg and things like that, I can't control that."

Dan Alexander had a two-yard touchdown run in the first half for the Cornhuskers, but the key plays were the returns by Newcombe and Burrow.

"The big difference came down to two plays," Missouri Coach Larry Smith said. "The punt return and the fumble return. Those were the difference and we were never able to make that up."

The Tigers were able to move the ball behind Kirk Farmer, but the sophomore quarterback broke his collarbone on a 33-yard run late in the third quarter.

Farmer completed 13 of 25 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 83 yards before leaving the game with about six minutes left in the third quarter.

Farmer was injured on a run that set up a 27-yard field goal by Brad Hammerich that cut Nebraska's lead to 35-24 with five minutes left in the third.

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