Career Night Win for Notre Dame

Notre Dame breaks records in a 45-21 romp over Maryland in Saturday night's Shamrock Series at FedEx Field.

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Notre Dame stomped Maryland, 45-21, in Saturday night's Shamrock Series Showdown at FedEx Field.

Tommy Rees completed 30 of 38 passes for 296 yards despite three sacks; however, it was Notre Dame's running game that stole the show.

"We asked our team to get off to a fast start. We did that," said Coach Brian Kelly. "I thought that it was important for us to come here and really make a statement early on."

Stepping up and making a big statement was senior running back Jonas Gray who had his first career 100-yard rushing game with 136 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 6.5 yards per carry.

"The guys in front did a great job blocking," said Gray. "The receivers did a great job just blocking up field. Like I always do, I did the rest with my legs."

"We had challenged him [Gray] to be the kind of back that we think he should be, and that is powerful, keeps his feet moving, doesn't go down after first contact. We told him that his reps would be based upon his ability to play physical, and you could see he doesn't want to get off the field," added coach Kelly.

Out of the gates, Gray took the first drive into his own hands pounding out 32-yards on four carries, capped off with a one-yard rushing touchdown.

The first half MVP didn't stop there.

In the final minute of the second quarter, Gray punched in his second one-yard touchdown run, giving the Irish a 24-7 lead.

Gray, having never reached the end zone in his career before the Irish's Sept. 24 game at Pitt, has now 11 touchdowns. He has rushed for a touchdown in seven consecutive games, the only Notre Dame running back to do so since Autry Denson in 1998.

Coach Kelly goes on to describe his backfield.

"Jonas Gray was what we have all been talking about. He's been a consistent performer for us, and he's really emerged as a big-time back. That's why we went with two backs in the backfield for the first time this year; we played both Jonas and Cierre, because they've been so productive for us."

In the third quarter, the scoring came mostly from the two Woods, Cierre and Lo.

Junior running back Cierre Wood was one yard shy from joining his one-two punch Gray with a 100-yard rushing game. Wood collected a three-yard touchdown run, his ninth of 2011, making the score 31-7.

On defense, the sophomore cornerback Lo Wood returned an interception 57 yards for a touchdown. Ironically, that marked Notre Dame's first pick six since last year's Shamrock Series in Yankee Stadium. (Darrin Walls had a 42-yard interception return against Army).

In the fourth quarter, junior tight end Tyler Eifert etched his name in Notre Dame history hauling in a 34-yard touchdown pass from Rees, scoring the final touchdown for the Irish. Eifert's career 78 catches and 941 yards ranks him among the top ten in Notre Dame tight end career receiving history.

The win improves the Irish's overall record to 7-3, remaining undefeated in the month of November under coach Kelly.

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