Seattle, Wash (UHND.com) — A week after gaining 594 yards on offense, Notre Dame gained another 560 while cruising to a 36-17 over Washington and former head coach Ty Willingham’s new team.
Notre Dame’s offense piled up the yards, but took time to find the end zone, something that hasn’t happened much this year for the Irish. Despite controlling the clock in the first half and creating two costly turnovers on defense, the Irish lead just 12-3 at halftime.
Botched special teams play lead the Irish’s slim lead despite the large advantage in time of possession. Bad snaps on a field goal attempt and an extra point lead to missed opportunities for the Irish. Penalties in the red zone also turned touchdown opportunities into field goal attempts.
Darius Walker saw the end zone in the 2nd quarter for Notre Dame with a 19 yard touchdown run, but the ensuing extra point was missed after a bad snap and hold.
Washington had its chances in the first half but the Notre Dame defense came up with timing turnovers and literally bent, but did not break in every aspect. On the first drive of the game the Huskies drove all the way down the field only to fumble the ball at the 1 yard line with N’dukwe Chinendum.
Later in the first half, Ambrose Wooden picked off an Isaiah Stanback pass in the end zone, ending another Washington scoring opportunity and leaving the Huskies with just 3 points in the first half despite over 200 yards passing in the first two quarters.
The second half belong to the Irish however as Notre Dame scored two touchdowns — one on a Rashon Powers-Neal run and another on a Brady Quinn 52 yard pass to Jeff Samardjiza.
Samardjiza caught 8 passes in the game for a career high 164 yards. He is the first Notre Dame receiver to catch a touchdown pass in 4 straight games since 1998 when Malcolm Johnson recorded the same feat.
Notre Dame had a good balance on offense with 327 yards coming through the air and 233 coming on the ground. Darius Walker recorded his 4th straight 100 yard game with a career high 128 including his touchdown run. Junior Travis Thomas saw extended duty n the 4th quarter and responded with 52 yards on 7 carries and his first career touchdown.
Despite only scoring 17 points, 14 of which after the Irish took a 29-3 lead, Washington was able to move the ball on the Irish all day with 408 passing yards including 353 from Isaiah Stanback. Stanback could have lit up the Irish for more had he been more accurate on a few deep balls that were off target.
This game could have turned out dramatically different in either direction if a few plays had gone differently. Notre Dame controlled the ball and did not punt until there were under 10 seconds remaining in the game, but missed scoring chances. The Irish missed two fourth down attempts in the 2nd half, coming up close on both, but not quite making them. Add in the special teams miscues from the first half and the Irish could have easily put up 50 or more points.
Conversely, if Washington had merely eliminated the red zone turnovers and at the least converted those opportunities to field goals, the outcome could have dramatically changed. A few bounces here and there and this outcome could have been a lot different and Washington could have pulled the upset. Hmm…. interesting, that sounds really familiar, I just cant remember from where.