Notre Dame, IN (UHND.com) – Charlie Weis surprised his players with green jerseys for a talented group of senior’s final home game, and the Irish responded with a 41-9 victory over Army to improve to 10-1 – keeping their national championship hopes still very much alive.
The Irish emerged from the tunnel prior to kick-off sporting green jerseys and for the first quarter it looked as if the “green jersey jinx” could play a role. Notre Dame was shutout in the first quarter by an inspired Army defense that ended Brady Quinn’s streak of 225 consecutive passes without an interception on the Irish’s first drive of the game.
Despite bottling up the Irish offense and moving the ball effectively in the first quarter, Army would manage just three points in the first quarter and would not score again till the game’s final play.
Brady Quinn, in his final game in Notre Dame Stadium, lead the Irish to 20 second quarter points after a shaky start. Quinn finished the game by completing 22 of 30 passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns to go along with the one interception – his first in seven games.
Junior running back Darius Walker led an Irish ground attack that accumulated 223 yards against Army’s 112th ranked run defense. The Georgia native piled up a season high 162 yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns. Walker went over 1,000 yards for the season for the second consecutive season with his 162 yard effort – becoming just the fourth Notre Dame running back to do so.
The game marked the last home games for a couple of the best wide receivers in Notre Dame history with Rhema McKnight and Jeff Samardzija battling for the career reception record heading into the game. A week ago against Air Force, McKnight took over first place, but held just a two reception lead over his teammate. With nine receptions this week, however, Samardzija took over the top spot.
Samardzija ended the game with nine receptions for 87 yards and his 10th touchdown of the season. McKnight may have lost the reception lead, but he did end the game with 3 catches for 50 yards and two touchdowns. The two touchdowns give McKnight 14 on the season, just 1 off of Samardzija’s single season touchdown record set last year.
A couple other seniors, Derek Landri and Mike Richardson, help shut down the Army offense which held the Black Knights to just three points prior a last second touchdown on the final play of the game.
Richardson capped off an up and down career at Notre Dame with his first two interceptions of the season and Derek Landri added another 4.5 tackles for loss to his season total which currently sits at 15. Two of those tackle for losses came via quarterback sack, giving Landri seven on the season.
The win for the Irish gives them their first 10 win season since 2002 and just their second in the last 13 seasons. The win also ends a four game losing streak in the green jerseys for the Irish. Last season Notre Dame lost to Southern Cal in green and prior to that loss, the Irish fell to Boston College in 2002, Georgia Tech in the 1999 Gator Bowl, and Colorado in the 1995 Fiesta Bowl when they went with green.
Notre Dame improved to 10-1 on the season heading into next weekend’s showdown with Southern Cal. The Trojans must get passed Cal later tonight, but should they take care of the Golden Bears Saturday night, it will set up a national championship elimination game next Saturday night.