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Thunder from the sky

Heather VanHoegarden | Monday, September 27, 2004

Last week they got it done on the ground, this week it was in the air.Brady Quinn threw four touchdown passes and Notre Dame put up 21 points in the first quarter as Washington remained winless, losing at Notre Dame Stadium 38-3.The Irish (3-1) put the game away early as Quinn was 9-of-13 in the first quarter, good for 147 yards and three touchdowns. By halftime, Quinn had thrown for 193 yards and a school record-tying four touchdowns against the Huskies (0-3).”I thought that we played a pretty good first half,” Irish coach Tyrone Willingham said. “For the most part, we were able to do everything that we set out to do.”The quick start was unusual for this Irish team, which has taken awhile to get into its game plan this season.”We really haven’t had a quick start all year,” Willingham said. “We had a great week of practice. “I thought we played well at Michigan State, but I sensed the players weren’t happy with the entire performance. They came in with a great mindset to start the week and it went from there.”Quinn drove the offense down the field on the second offensive possession of the game, going 45 yards in five plays, capped by a 24-yard touchdown pass to Matt Shelton, the first of two on the day for the senior wide receiver.Shelton scored again eight minutes later on a 27-yard pass from Quinn, capping an 11-play, 79-yard drive that put the Irish ahead 14-0.Anthony Fasano caught an 18-yard touchdown pass to end the quarter, giving the Irish a 21-0 lead.In the second quarter, Washington put together a 58-yard drive that was abruptly ended with a third-and-goal incompletion by quarterback Casey Paus. The Huskies were forced to kick a field goal, and Michael Braunstein knocked a 26-yarder through to cut the Irish lead to 21-3.But that was as close as they would get.Quinn responded with another touchdown pass to Fasano, and D.J. Fitzpatrick kicked a 45-yard field goal to give Notre Dame a 31-3 halftime advantage, as the Irish defense gave up just 29 yards on the ground in the half.But after the first half, Quinn and the Irish offense slowed down.The Notre Dame quarterback completed just two of his next nine attempts, disappointing for a team that struggled to finish strong last weekend at Michigan State.”We didn’t play a complete football game,” Willingham said.Quinn, who finished with 266 yards on 17-for-32 with one interception, said he was wanting more as well.”It was nice [to tie the touchdown record] but it still should have been more,” Quinn said. “Obviously, there were some times in the second half where I wasn’t making throws.”Quinn threw a 53-yard completion to Rhema McKnight in the fourth quarter to set up a 17-yard touchdown run by Darius Walker, rounding out the scoring for both teams. Walker finished with 88 yards on 23 carries, good for an average of 3.5 yards per carry.”I think what we tried to do in the second half was to try come out those first couple of drives and put the thing away and we were not able to do that,” offensive coordinator Bill Diedrick said. “That is probably the most disappointing factor of the whole game.” Washington tried to change things up in the second half, inserting Carl Bonnell at quarterback after Paus finished the first half 10-of-26 for 130 yards and no interceptions, but Bonnell improved the Huskies offense, running the ball as well. He finished with 93 yards on 7-of-18 passing with one interception, picked off by Dwight Ellick.”We brought [Bonnell] in for the second half to give him a few snaps in live-game action,” Washington coach Keith Gilbertson said. “We also thought that he would give us another option with his running ability for our offense.”But the suffocating Irish defense was too much, holding Washington to just 112 yards on the ground for the game.”I’m pleased with the whole group today,” Irish defensive coordinator Kent Baer said. “I thought the whole team as a unit played well together. I thought there were a couple lapses where we weren’t real sharp, but for the most part, heck, I’ll take it.”