Irish rally past Army, 41-9

Most fans in South Bend were shocked when they looked up at the scoreboard after the first quarter. It read: Army 3, Notre Dame 0. The Black Knights were playing good enough on offense and tough defense. But, finally, proud Army came back down to earth. Sixth-ranked Notre Dame led 20-3 at halftime en route to a 41-9 win on Senior Day.

"You all know this and I don't have to say this, Notre Dame is a really great football team," said Army coach Bobby Ross after the Black Knights' fifth consecutive loss. "They are good. I mean, they are very good. You know, we are still struggling and trying to build."

Army (3-8) took a 3-0 lead on a 27-yard field goal by Austin Miller with 1:46 left in the first quarter. From there, it was all Notre Dame (10-1), which faces USC next week in Los Angeles. A win keeps the Fighting Irish's national championship hopes alive.

"Beat SC! Beat SC!" Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn shouted, pumping his arm to keep the fans' rhythm, in the Notre Dame student section after the Fighting Irish's eighth straight win. The Heisman Trophy candidate played his last game in South Bend.

"This was a special moment," Quinn said. "We don't have too many opportunities to play your last game in Notre Dame Stadium. I did my best today to just take it all in."

Quinn overcame a slow start, which included a rare interception by Army free safety Jordan Murray, to throw for 218 yards and three touchdowns. Notre Dame running back Darius Walker rushed for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Army's offense continues to sputter. The Black Knights managed just 150 yards of total offense. Freshman quarterback Carson Williams started, completing 1-of-8 passes for just 16 yards. David Pevoto replaced him in the second half and completed 7of-13 passes for 76 yards with a touchdown pass to tight end David Pevoto in the closing seconds.

"We're really struggling there and you can tell it at the quarterback position.," Ross said. "We're young there. We tried two or three different combinations and stayed with Pevoto in the second half. It's an awful lot to ask of a freshman to come in here and deliver and make the plays that we would have thought would he would have to have make."

Ross went on: "We didn't do very well. We didn't protect well up front. I think that was one of our big problems in the game is we didn't protect well. We wanted to run the ball as much as we possibly could. We started off well with that, and then we started moving their line a little, did a little slanting, etc. Their quickness was a little bit too much for us to handle. "Army entered as an overwhelming underdog and provided Notre Dame with a service academy sweep, defeating Navy (48-14) and Air Force (39-17) earlier this season. The Fighting Irish's quickness and size proved way too much for the Black Knights.

Ross led Georgia Tech to a co-national championship in 1990 and was asked after the game if this Notre Dame team was of the same quality.

"Oh, written all over it, all over it. I don't know that there would be a weakness to their team," he said. "They have great speed, and their defense has changed a little from the beginning of the season. They got to more of a pressure package and they have the people to do that."


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