The Notre Dame senior class of 2013 became the first senior class to win four straight senior days on Saturday with a 23-13 win over BYU to improve to 8-3 on the season.
Notre Dame never trailed against BYU on Saturday, but the game remained close throughout most of the second half until the Irish were able to pull away in fourth quarter. Kyle Brindza kicked a 51 yard field goal in the windy, snowy conditions for Notre Dame to put the Irish up 23-13 with 6:53 remaining.
BYU was not able to get on the scoreboard again despite having the ball in Notre Dame territory twice in the final six minutes. Following Bridza’s kick to put the Irish up 10, the Cougars drove down inside the Notre Dame 10 yard line but a near interception on second and goal by Jaylon Smith and stuffed Taysom Hill run on 3rd down kept the Cougars out of the endzone. That’s when Jarron Jones came up with the play of game.
Jones, filling in for the injured Louis Nix and playing out of position, blocked a chip shot field goal attempt by BYU to maintain Notre Dame’s 10 point lead and essentially ended the game. BYU got the ball back, but were unable to make much happen after Stephon Tuitt picked up his 6th sack of the season in what could have been his final home game of his career as well if he decides to go pro after the season.
Notre Dame built a 17-7 lead in the first half behind a strong running game and a 61 yard touchdown pass from Tommy Rees to DaVaris Daniels in the first quarter. Tarean Folston scored his second touchdown of the season in the first half as well. Rees, playing in his final game in Notre Dame Stadium, ended the game with 235 yards and a touchdown but did throw a costly interception in the fourth quarter that nearly cost the Irish dearly.
Fortunately for Rees and Notre Dame, the Irish defense was able to come up with a critical stop following Rees’s interception. The defense, which has been ravaged by injuries, looked shaky at times while allowing over 400 yards but kept BYU out of the endzone in the second half allowing just a pair of field goals thanks to big games from Jones, Tuitt, and linebackers Carlo Calabrese and Dan Fox.
The Notre Dame offense didn’t light up the scoreboard in the second half, but was able to run the ball well enough to keep BYU off the field enough to keep the depleted defense fresh throughout the game. The Irish ran for 235 yards led by Cam McDaniel’s 117 yard outburst – the first 100 yard effort of the junior running backs career. Folston added 78 yards on 11 carries and George Atkinson chipped in with 42 on 6 carries.
Notre Dame senior TJ Jones had his touchdown streak ended, but the senior wide receiver hauled in 5 passes for 95 yards. He had a few chances to reach the endzone but the swirling winds and pressure from BYU forced a few underthrown passes from Rees in the second half when Jones had beaten the defense. Fellow wide receiver DaVaris Daniels meanwhile scored for the second consecutive game and recoreded his second 100 yard performance of the season and first since the Purdue game.
Brindza’s 51 yard field was his third 50+ yard field of the season and fourth of his career.
Jaylon Smith honored Danny Spond by wearing #13 and Luke Massa paid tribute to his high school teammate Matt James by wearinf #78. James unfortunately was never able to enroll at Notre Dame after falling to his death during his senior year of high school.
The Notre Dame senior class ended their home careers with their 4th win on senior day and their 36th win overall to make them the winningest senior class for Notre Dame since the 1995 class. Brian Kelly also became only the second Notre Dame coach to win at least 8 games in each of his first four seasons joining Dan Devine as the only other.
Notre Dame travels to Palo Alto next weekend to take on their toughest opponent of the season – Stanford.