With rain falling, ND's Hughes gets running

After limited contributions the first few weeks, a hard-charging back has emerged as a difference-maker for 4-1 Notre Dame.

In last game's 24-21 win at Purdue, Robert Hughes ran for 68 yards and a score.

This time around, with starter Armando Allen limited by injury and rain falling steadily in the second half, Hughes gave the Irish a big boost in their 37-30 overtime win against visiting Washington on Saturday.

The field was getting sloppy, so Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis turned to the 5-11, 234-pound junior. "He was running north," Weis said. "Those running-north runs were the best way to go."

His eight carries for 70 yards don't tell the entire story. His 15-yard gain deep in Irish territory in the first quarter gave the offense breathing room and helped lead to an eventual field goal. Hughes did the same thing at the end of the third quarter, gaining 12 yards from Notre Dame's 1 yard line, as well as catching a 25-yard pass and gaining 37 on a run that led the way to another field goal.

He ran for the successful 2-point conversion that gave the Irish a late three-point edge, and scored the winning touchdown from a yard out in overtime.

And as for the weather affecting his running: Do you even have to ask?

"Wet, dry, it doesn't matter," Hughes said.

Career days

Jimmy Clausen finished with a career-high 422 yards passing on 23-of-31 attempts with two touchdowns and one interception (on a tipped ball that hit Allen in the hands). He was sacked three times, and made all the throws he needed to while playing with turf toe.

Golden Tate caught nine passes for 244 yards, the second-highest total in Notre Dame history for a single game. Tate caught a 77-yard pass that was a career best, as was his 31-yard run that was his only carry. Tate has 15 career touchdown receptions and nine 100-yard receiving games.

The lonesome kicker

It was a bit of a running joke in the press box Saturday that the debut of freshman punter Ben Turk was slow in arriving. With the Irish moving the ball effectively, they didn't for the first time until about three minutes remained in the third quarter. Turk, who beat out senior Eric Maust, punted twice in all, for 40 and 39 yards.

Placekicker Nick Tausch continues to impress, turning stalled Notre Dame drives into points. Since missing a short field goal against Michigan in his first attempt of the year, he's hit 10 straight, including a school-record-tying five against Washington.

Weis was also happy with Tausch's kickoffs besides one short offering.

"I think he had a pretty good day at the office for a freshman," Weis said.

All in the family

Washington (2-3) showed it can beat anyone on a given day, particularly on offense with quarterback Jake Locker and running back Chris Polk making big plays all day. On defense, a standout with a familiar name also made his presence felt.

Freshman cornerback Desmond Trufant made his second career start, recording five solo tackles (one for loss) and an assist, breaking up two passes and registering one hit on the quarterback.

His biggest play came two snaps after he dropped Allen for a 2-yard loss on a pass completion. Clausen looked left for Allen from the Irish 30 and sailed the ball over Allen's head. The pass, which appeared to be an attempt to throw the ball away or a late adjustment to avoid traffic surrounding Allen, traveled backwards. That means the ball is technically a fumble, and Trufant alertly picked it up and ran for a 17-yard touchdown.

Trufant, who made his second career start against Notre Dame, is the younger brother of former Washington standout and current Seattle Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant.

"I think Desmond Trufant's a premier football player," Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian said. "He covers punts, he covers kicks. He's on the field all the time. He's a tough-minded kid."

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