Beef ground Night Train

04/14/02 la Crosse Tribune
Scott Tyrcha knew indoor football was faster. He knew it was quicker. The La Crosse Night Train coaches reminded him all week.

What the offensive lineman from Valparaiso University didn't know is that he would be lined up against a former Tampa Bay Buccaneers efensive end. It wasn't the ideal situation for someone playing his first indoor game.

Omaha Beef defensive end Dwayne Harris, who last played college football on the University of Nebraska's 1995 National Championship team before playing the next two years in the NFL, went around, over and through Tyrcha Saturday night at the La Crosse Center, and the Beef cruised past La Crosse 47-11.

"A Valpo guy trying to block a guy from Nebraska, who played for the Bucs. That's not going to work," said Omaha coach Sandy Buda, whose team improved to 2-1 in the Pacific North Conference of the National Indoor Football League. In front of an estimated crowd of 2,100, the Night Train dropped to 0-4 overall, and 0-4 in the same conference.

The 6-foot-3, 270-pound Harris had six total sacks against starting quarterback Doby Howard and backup Colby Vogt. Harris also pulled Howard down in the endzone for a sack at the end of the first half, and before it was over, he had injured both Howard and Vogt the same way - racing around Tyrcha and driving them onto their left shoulders. Running back Dexter General had to do the mop-up work at quarterback in the fourth quarter, with the game out of reach.

Tyrcha, a native of Lake Geneva, Wisc., was one of three players the Night Train added this week, along with Valparaiso teammate Willie Stephen. With Garnet Asmundson on the injured reserve, La Crosse coach John Schimon was looking to fill a hole in the offensive line. Tyrcha was looking for a team. It was a bad first impression.

"Scott (Tyrcha) had a very bad game," said Schimon. "No. 99 (Harris) ate his lunch all game long. We tried moving him to the other side, but they just found him and brought the heat. That was the game right there."

The La Crosse quarterback questions went unanswered for another week, as both Howard and Vogt played, but spent most of their time behind center running from Harris. Each completed just two passes, for a total of 21 yards between them. Howard threw two interceptions, Vogt threw one, and all three picks were made with Harris baring down on whichever La Crosse quarterback was in the game at the time.

"It's a lot different," said Tyrcha, who got a shot with the Night Train after e-mailing general manager Michael Grego, then coming to La Crosse for a tryout earlier this week. "The defensive ends are quick. I'm not used to that. I've got a lot to learn. I know that."

Neither quarterback injury is thought to be serious, but whether it will be Vogt or Howard, or neither when the Night Train play again in two weeks in Billings, Mont., is now uncertain. The experiment of putting the smaller, more mobile, Howard at quarterback instead of running back was - for at least one game - a flop. He spent most of the game running for his life.

"I'm going to be seeing that guy in my nightmares," said Howard, holding his left shoulder.

Omaha scored on its first possession, then added two field goals, a rushing touchdown by former Nebraska running back Clinton Childs, and Harris' safety in the second quarter, taking a 19-3 lead. La Crosse didn't get into the endzone until the fourth quarter, when Colby Vogt connected with Ryan Hubbard for a five-yard touchdown pass.

"Everybody said, 'Put Doby at quarterback. Put Doby at quarterback,'" Schimon said. "Having Doby Howard at quarterback isn't the answer for this team. We have other positions that are really hurting us. We're just a couple guys short of being a good team."

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