NOTRE DAME, Ind. – There may be some debate about the fairness of the scoring system, but the Irish rushing game carried the offense to a 68-33 victory over the defense in the 80th annual Blue-Gold Game at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday.
The special scoring system awarded points to the offense for touchdowns, field goals, first downs and explosive plays while the defense earned points with stops, sacks and turnovers.
"I don't come up with the scoring system, so I'm not too worried about," running back Armando Allen chuckled. "As the points go up, we get happier and happier."
Allen gained 70 yards on 12 carries and was named MVP of the Blue team.
"I feel like it was real important to go out there and have fun," Allen said. "I give all of the credit to the offensive linemen, they really work hard and had a good spring."
Robert Blanton had two tackles and a 48-yard interception return for a touchdown to earn MVP honors for the Gold squad.
Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis saw what he expected to see.
"I thought we would run the ball with power inside and I thought that our defense would be good to the edge and put a lot of heat on the quarterback and really as you watch that game, that's what was out there," Weis said.
Robert Hughes led all rushers with 93 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries while Jonas Gray had 89 yards and a score on 20 rushes. Kyle Rudolph led the receivers with four catches for 27 yards while Mike Ragone had a 34-yard reception.
While the defense struggled against the run, it did put pressure on the passers, limiting Jimmy Clausen to just 70 yards on eight of 17 pass attempts while Dayne Crist was just four of 10 for 40 yards.
"Against our defense, opponents are going to have to spend a lot of time scheming to get the quarterback extra time," Weis said. "They're very athletic and you only saw about a tenth of what they've got dialed up too. That was as generic of a blitz-zone package as the defensive staff is going to throw out there."
Early enrollee Zeke Motta led the defense with seven tackles while Harrison Smith, Darrin Walls, Johnson and walk-on Chris Bathon each had six.
The Irish offense drove 30 yards on the game's opening series, but stalled at the 35-yard line when Clausen had a pass intended for Rudolph broken up by a big hit from Kyle McCarthy.
The defense came up big on the second play of the next series when Blanton picked off a Clausen pass and returned it for a score. The defense got credit for Brandon Walker's point after and led 15-4.
Crist came in at quarterback for the offense's third series of the day and completed two of his first three passes while Hughes gained 33 yards on five carries, including a seven-yard touchdown that gave the offense a 19-15 edge.
Clausen completed a first-down pass to Rudolph to start the next series, but the offense had to punt after a pair of incomplete passes and a negative rush.
Montana hooked up with Walker for a 17-yard pass before connecting with Ragone on the 34-yarder down the seam. Gray scored from five yards out, but Brandon Walker missed the extra point, giving the defense a point and making the score 32-18.
The offense led 33-26 at the half and went right down the field on the first possession after intermission.
Clausen picked up a first down with an 18-yard scamper before converting a third-and-long with a strike to Floyd. Allen set the Irish up with a 26-yard run before Hughes pounded it in from two yards out to give the offense a 48-26 lead.
The defense stopped the offense on the next drive, but Walker drilled a 48-yard field goal attempt on the third possession of the half that gave the Blue a healthy 61-30 lead.
The offense went three-and-out before Hughes and Gray ran the clock out on a 16-play, 65-yard drive that ended with Montana taking a knee.
The offense finished with 25 points on 25 first downs, 20 points on 10 explosive plays, three points for the field goal and another 20 points on the three touchdowns and the missed extra point.
The defense recorded six points on three sacks, 15 points for defensive stops (including three three-and-outs), 10 points for Blanton's pick-six and a point each for Walker's PAT after Blanton's score and for Walker's missed PAT after the Gray touchdown.