Notre Dame Football
The New Era Pinstripe Bowl was not the destination that Notre Dame had hoped for when it went to Shiloh Park in Marian, Indiana. However, the venue provided a great opportunity to send the Notre Dame Seniors out with a blowout victory. However, the Irish found themselves in a battle that lasted into the 4th Quarter.
Notre Dame began the game as many expected with a 14 play, 71 yard drive and an immediate stop on defense. However, Rutgers gained confidence after T.J. Jones fumbled on a punt return and the Rutgers defense held the Irish multiple times. If not for a late interception by KeiVarae Russell, the Irish likely would have trailed at half-time. However, they went into half-time with a 13-13 tie.
Notre Dame counterpunched in the second half with a 3-and-out. They followed that up with a 14 play, field goal drive to take a 16-13 lead. The Irish made another stop and looked poised to take a 23-13 lead. However, the Irish again failed to score a touchdown and kicked a field goal. Rutgers drove down and kicked a field goal to make the score 19-16 with 9 minutes to go.
The outlook seemed bleak for the Fighting Irish. But, Notre Dame and Tommy Rees drove down the field on 10 play, 79 yard drive that ended in a 3 yard Tarean Folston touchdown run. That score gave the Irish a 26-16 lead. The Irish then added a 49-yard field goal following a Dan Fox interception.
Tommy Rees needed 251 yards to pass Ron Powlus for 3rd in career passing. Rutgers was ranked 122nd in passing defense entering today’s ballgame. Rees completed 27 of 47 passes for 317 yards with 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Rees is now 3rd on Notre Dame’s all-time career passing yards list.
With George Atkinson III suspended, Cam McDaniel and Tarean Folston carried the load for the Fighting Irish. McDaniel carried the ball 17 times for 80 yards. Folston had 17 carries for 73 yards and 1 touchdown.
Notre Dame finished the season 9-4. The next time the Irish will take the field is against each other in the annual Blue-Gold game. The Irish will have Everett Golson at Quarterback again and a wealth of talent on offense.
Questions remain. Will Stephon Tuitt return? Can the Irish find someone to play the Middle Linebacker? Notre Dame has 245 days to figure out the answers to these questions. The Irish play Rice on August 30th.