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Nevada Takes Chance and It Pays Off Handsomely

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In a conference known for its passing, Chance Kretschmer is making a name for himself on the ground.

After his 162-yard effort in a 28-20 victory against Hawaii on Saturday, the Nevada redshirt freshman continues to lead the Western Athletic Conference in rushing, a fact surprising to many considering that Kretschmer wasn’t even on scholarship two weeks ago.

“He typifies what we want to be--a tough, hard-nosed football team,” Nevada Coach Chris Tormey said of the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder, who before Saturday had gained 208 yards in 38 carries in losses to Brigham Young and Colorado State.

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But even Tormey concedes he never would have predicted this early success.

“If you told me he’d be leading the conference after playing Brigham Young and Colorado State, I don’t think I would’ve believed you,” he said.

Kretschmer’s rise to the starter’s role is about as amazing as the way he ended up on the roster.

“The first time I saw him was at the Reno Rodeo when he was a calf-roper,” Tormey said of Kretschmer, who was a three-sport star and all-state pick in football and basketball at the tiny high school in Tonopah, Nev., a town 208 miles northwest of Las Vegas with a population of 3,086.

So Tormey asked him to come out for the team--as a walk-on.

In the first game, against BYU, Kretschmer filled in late for starter Adrien Dugas once the game was out of reach, gaining 94 yards in the second half. He was supposed to split time with Dugas against Colorado State, but when Dugas injured his ankle three plays in, Kretschmer became the main man.

And when former Oregon and Long Beach Poly High running back Herman Ho-Ching didn’t earn the necessary junior college credits to transfer to Nevada as planned, it left a full scholarship open for Kretschmer.

He hasn’t slowed since.

At one point late in the game against Hawaii, it took four or five Warriors to bring him down.

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“One of the guys from Hawaii said, ‘You’ve got to stop doing that. You’re killing us.’ That’s when I got an extra wind,” Kretschmer said with a smile.

Rushing to the Top

It wasn’t exactly Marcus Allen against Herschel Walker, Charles White versus Billy Sims or even Rashaan Salaam taking on Ki-Jana Carter.

But Saturday’s Bruce Perry-Tarence Williams matchup was in itself a battle of top running backs.

Unless you’re a fan of Atlantic Coast Conference football, you probably don’t know that Perry plays for Maryland and Williams for Wake Forest.

Pat yourself on the back if you knew that Williams ranked first in ACC rushing and Perry second coming into their game.

Although Williams did well with a 100-yard effort, Perry blew him away and led the Terrapins to a 27-20 victory. Perry rushed for a career-high 276 yards and had touchdown runs of 50 and 80 yards.

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“He’s gotten better every game,” Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen told the Washington Post about Perry. “When he starts running low and hard, he’s a pretty good running back.”

But we still won’t gift wrap that Heisman just yet.

Like Father, Like Son

Saturday wasn’t a good day to be a Bowden.

Hours after Bobby Bowden’s once-invincible Florida State Seminoles looked extremely earthly in a 41-9 loss at North Carolina, Bobby’s son Tommy endured a bitter loss of his own when his Clemson Tigers lost in the closing seconds to Virginia, 26-24.

For Florida State, it was only the third ACC loss in nine-plus seasons, a span of 74 games.

By early in the fourth quarter, North Carolina fans were mocking the Seminoles with their own version of the tomahawk chop chant, a scene rarely seen in ACC football circles.

“We let them get encouraged, we let them get their confidence up and they took advantage of it,” Florida State’s Bowden said. “That didn’t look like the North Carolina team I’ve seen the last three games.”

Coming in, the Tar Heels were 0-3 and a 17-point underdog.

The losses figure to tumble No.6 Florida State out of the top 10 and No.19 Clemson possibly out of the top 25 altogether.

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No word on how Terry Bowden’s day went as an ABC studio analyst, but at last check there were no reports of any teleprompter breakdowns.

Born to Run

Indiana’s media guide touts quarterback Antwaan Randle El as a player who “will likely finish his career as the most statistically productive multiple-threat position player to ever compete on the college gridiron.”

Quite lofty praise for someone who never has had a hint of what a national championship feels like.

Still, Randel El, who started the season opener at wide receiver before returning to quarterback Saturday, is as dynamic as they come.

With his 69 yards in a loss to Utah, the senior became the seventh quarterback in Division I-A history to surpass 3,000 career yards rushing.

Former Air Force quarterback Dee Dowis tops the list with 3,612 yards in 47 games. Randel El reached 3,000 in 35 games.

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The other prominent name on the list is former Miami Dolphin and San Francisco 49er Freddie Solomon, the quarterback at Tampa from 1971-74.

Solomon went on to an 11-year career in the NFL--as a receiver.

Bayou Bruising

A bench-clearing brawl broke out in the third quarter of the Southwestern Athletic Conference game between Jackson State and Mississippi Valley State at Itta Bena, Miss.

After a Jackson State punt, opposing players began pushing and shoving near the Tigers’ sideline. That led to punches being thrown and helmets being swung.

The game was delayed 25 minutes as school officials and stadium security broke up the melee.

Wonder what Jerry Rice’s opinion of all this is.

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Compiled by Jim Barrero

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