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Huskers Vs California
1st Of all I would like to thank The Grand Island Independent Newspaper for allowing me to post their excelent pictures after every game visit their site often lots of great articles and info on the Huskers !!. By Terry Douglass The Independent BERKELEY, Calif. -- Nebraska's offensive dominance wasn't as breath-taking as the Golden Gate Bridge and California players probably wouldn't say that escaping the Cornhusker defense even compares to the legend of Alcatraz Island, but it will do. Banged up Nos. 3- and 4-ranked Nebraska improved to 3-0 Saturday night after a workman-like 24-3 victory at Cal's Memorial Stadium. And although the win was impressive by no stretch of the imagination, first-year Husker coach Frank Solich said he'll take it. "I'm really pleased with our players, that they've been able to go 3-0," Solich said. "In my mind, they've had to earn all three victories and I think they've done that." It may not have been the breakout game Nebraska was hoping for after tougher-than-expected games against Louisiana Tech and Alabama-Birmingham, but it wasn't bad considering the Huskers had five starters out for the game and played their third-string quarterback much of the second half against California (1-1). With first-game starter Bobby Newcombe still unable to go at quarterback with a knee injury, Eric Crouch was called upon to start. But Crouch's hamstring, which had been bothering him much of the week, tightened up early in the third quarter and forced Solich to call upon the untested Monte Christo. The fifth-year senior responded well to the challenge, hitting on 9 of 12 passes for 106 yards. Christo also ran 13 times for 32 yards. But more importantly, Christo led Nebraska on a key touchdown drive with 3:54 left in the game to salt away the victory. The nine-play, 70-yard march culminated when Christo found Shevin Wiggins for a 5-yard scoring pass on a third-and-goal. After leading 14-0 at halftime, Nebraska's offense had sputtered much of the second half and Cal had cut the Husker lead to 14-3. Crouch said Christo's play was definitely a lift. "Monte just came in and played awesome," Crouch said. "I told him at halftime that he needed to be ready to go and he just came in and played extremely well. It's to his credit that we were able to win this game." Trailing 14-0 at halftime, California drew first blood in the second half on a 38-yard field goal by Tim Wolleck. The kick chopped Nebraska's lead to 14-3 with 6:42 left in the third quarter. The scoring play was set up when Cal quarterback Justin Vedder hit Dameane Douglas for a 48-yard gain down the right sideline after Husker cornerback Ralph Brown missed a tackle. With Nebraska leading 21-3 late in the game, Cal's last two realistic chances to rally were thwarted by interceptions. Mike Brown got the first pickoff with 3:45 to play and Husker linebacker Carlos Polk truly put the game on ice with an interception with just under two minutes remaining. Vedder hit 14 of 32 passes for 224 yards in the game to keep the Cal offense moving, but it wasn't enough to put the Bears in the end zone. The Blackshirts were able to keep Cal's offensive attack one-dimensional, holding the home team to 12 net rushing yards. "We just had to bear down and play like the Nebraska defense that we all know," Ralph Brown said. "They had a good team and good athletes and they made some big plays, but we won the battle." The Cornhuskers also won the war, although they didn't exceed the point spread for the third consecutive game. NU was listed as a 23-point favorite over the Golden Bears. Nebraska's Kris Brown added a field goal with just 19 seconds left to provide the final margin of victory. With Crouch lasting two possessions after halftime, the Huskers didn't get their first scoring chance of the second half until early in the fourth quarter. With Christo at the controls, Nebraska moved the ball to the Cal 24 on the strength of a 17-yard run by Christo and his 31-yard pass to Sheldon Jackson. But NU couldn't cash in as Brown missed a 41-yard field-goal attempt. It was Brown's first miss after converting 17 consecutive tries. When the game first started, it looked like it might be a big day for NU offense. In the first quarter, Nebraska wasted little time getting on the scoreboard. After forcing California to go three-and-out on its first possession, the Cornhuskers drove 67 yards on six plays to score when Crouch snuck in from one yard out with 12:08 left in the first quarter. The key play of the drive was Correll Buckhalter's 29-yard run on an option play around the left end to the Bears' 1. Fullback Joel Makovicka took Nebraska into Cal territory with an 18-yard run up the gut. After its bright start, Nebraska's offense struggled in its next two possessions. The Huskers were able to drive from their own 4 into Cal territory on the second possession, but eventually had to punt. In its third opportunity with the football, NU took over at its own 34 and again moved onto the Bears side of the 50 before stalling out. Crouch completed a pass to Wiggins on third-and-12, but it was five yards short of the first down. "We came out initially, had a good drive and put some points on the board and maybe looked liked we'd gained some control," Solich said. "But to their credit, they came back and played very, very well." Cal coach Tom Holmoe was pleased with his team's defensive effort. The 24 points scored by Nebraska was its lowest output since NU beat Colorado 17-12 in 1996. "The defense fought very courageously," Holmoe said. "There were on the field for a long time. They wore down a little bit, but they didn't give up and they didn't break." After forcing California to punt for the fourth consecutive time in the first half, Nebraska went back to work offensively. The Huskers breezed 64 yards on just five plays to reach paydirt when Crouch cut up an option keeper from three yards out. Kris Brown's point-after kick gave NU a 14-0 lead with 9:55 left in the second quarter. Nebraska's second scoring march was sparked by Makovicka's 23-yard ramble on the first play and Crouch's gain of 30 yards on an option keeper to the Bears' 6. California had its best first-half scoring opportunity as Deltha O'Neal's 49-yard return on the ensuing kickoff allowed the Bears to set up shop at their own 49. Cal then made its first penetration into Husker territory when Joshua White bulled his way for nine yards to the 42. The Bears managed to get all the way to the Cornhuskers' 11 on 31-yard pass completion from Vedder to Douglas. However, Cal put it in reverse from there, losing yardage on two of its next three plays. A 35-yard field-goal attempt by Cal's Ignacio Brache sailed wide right and Nebraska's shutout bid remained intact. The Bears forged their way to the Nebraska 30 on their next drive, but could get no further. Husker middle linebacker Jay Foreman batted down Vedder's pass attempt on third and 10, forcing Cal to punt. Cal Punter Nick Harris then executed a perfect pooch punt, stopping the ball dead at the Nebraska 1. It was the second time Harris had pinned the Huskers inside their own 5 in the opening half. Taking over with just 2:48 left before halftime, the Nebraska offense held on to the ball long enough to keep Cal from getting good field position and a chance to score before intermission. On a third-and-8 play from his own 3, Crouch called his own number and ripped off an 18-yard gain to keep the drive alive. Nebraska's hurry-up attempt to get one last score ended with six seconds left as Crouch's long pass down the right sideline was intercepted by Cal's O'Neal at his own 4. For the second straight game, Nebraska didn't have a 100-yard rusher. Makovicka led the way with 83 yards, Buckhalter finished with 71 and Crouch had 59. The Huskers were again solid in the passing game. Crouch completed 6 of 16 passes for 74 yards as Nebraska hit 15 of 28 pass attempts as a team for 180 yards. Wiggins had a big receiving day with seven catches for 97 yards and a TD. Sophomore Matt Davison had five receptions for 44 yards.