Walker and the Irish run over Army

SOUTH BEND - Notre Dame was right when they thought they could dominate the line of scrimmage Saturday against Army. The fifth-ranked Irish rushed for a season-high 221 yards, in a 41-9 victory over the Black Knights.

The Irish (10-1) offensive line outweighed the Army (3-8) defensive line by 29 pounds per man. That size advantage allowed Darius Walker and company to run for 6.3 yards per carry.

"I thought it was a good day," said Walker, who rushed for a season-high 162 yards, the second most in his career behind the 186 yards against Stanford last season. "We wanted to come in and establish the run, out-tough them and out-physical them. I felt like we did.

"It's always important to establish the run and kind of dictate the game," Walker later said. "We kind of felt like we controlled it the whole time, and take 20-play drives or whatever we needed to get into the end zone."

The Irish failed to score in the first quarter for the first time since the Michigan State game. Stalling on the first two drives, head coach Charlie Weis put the ball in the hands of Walker to get into the end zone. On Notre Dame's third possession, Walker accounted for all 50 yards, 35 rushing and 15 receiving, capped off by a 10-yard romp through tacklers to put his team up for good, 7-3.

Walker later added a seven-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter to put the Irish ahead, 41-3.

Surpassing the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season, Walker joins Vagas Ferguson, Allen Pinkett and Autry Denson as the only Notre Dame running backs to do that. The junior now has 1,083 yards rushing this year and seven touchdowns.

"It feels really good," Walker stated. "To be honest, I can't take a whole lot of the credit because the offensive line and the guys up front really do a good job for me day in and day out. It feel good to be a part of that bunch though."

*Brady Quinn was efficient as usual, completing 22-of-30 passes for 218 yards and three touchdowns.

While Quinn was on point most of the afternoon, one bad throw ended the nation's longest streak of passes thrown without an interception at 226. His fourth pass of the day was intercepted by Jordan Murray.

"It's sad that that streak or something like that has to end," Quinn said. "But at the same point in time, if it had to go to any player, might as well be one from a service academy, one of the players from those teams, I'd rather throw it to them than anybody else.

Better Murray, than a USC player next Saturday.

*Rhema McKnight became Notre Dame's all-time leading receiver last week in the win over Air Force. It was a record he held for a week.

Jeff Samardzija's nine receptions on Saturday was six more than what McKnight had, moving him ahead of his teammate for first place at 165 career catches. McKnight has 161.

"We don't really care," stated Samardzija, who had 87 yards receiving and a touchdown. McKnight had 35 yards and two touchdowns. "Obviously we just wanted to go out there and make plays when we can. Rhema went out there and made big plays today. I just try and do my part. It's really nothing we talk about at all. It's kind of something to talk about on the outside. We just go out and do what we gotta do."

Samardzija's 16-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone looked like many of his 25-career scores. The senior streaked over the middle and Quinn found him as usual, putting the Irish up 14-3 in the second quarter.

"It was cool, it was nice to put it in the end zone and kind of get us going there in the beginning after Darius scored," Samardzija said. "It's nice to get the ball rolling and get it off your shoulders early so people aren't tripping, third quarter, why don't you have a touchdown yet. It was nice, it was good and I thought all the seniors played great and motivated."

* In his debut as the No. 1 tight end, Marcus Freeman definitely didn't put up the same production as the injured John Carlson. Carlson averaged nearly 60 yards per game receiving, making him the most prolific tight end in the nation.

Freeman on the other hand, only had one pass thrown in his direction. It sailed way over his head in the end zone.

"I know he blocked pretty well," head coach Charlie Weis said. "I don't know, we don't design to throw the ball to anyone. When we call a play, it's all based on where the coverage is, and therefore, the ball goes to the guys based on what coverage."

* Army won the toss and elected to receive.

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