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Walker breaks Carter’s rushing record

Pat Leonard | Monday, September 26, 2005

On a routine 5-yard carry to the Washington 9-yard line in Saturday’s third quarter, Irish running back Darius Walker became the first Notre Dame player ever to rush for more than 100 yards in a season’s first four games.

That mark breaks the record held by former Irish back Phil Carter, who ran for 100 yards in three consecutive games to start the 1980 season.

“It really feels good to see that some of the hard work is paying off,” Walker said of breaking the record.

Walker also moves into a three-way tie for third place in terms of overall consecutive games running for 100 yards. Lee Becton (’93) owns the Notre Dame record with seven. Allen Pinckett (’83) is second with five, and Walker, Autry Denson (’97) and Randy Kinder each have four.

Washington allowed 233 yards on the ground Saturday. Walker gained a career-high 128 total yards and scored on a 17-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. He often bounced runs outside or ran a pitch play to either side, a play that became one of Weis’ favorites as the game went on.

“We were running the stretch and the pitch all day, and it didn’t seem like they stopped it too much,” Walker said. “So if they were going to keep allowing me to get outside and to be able to cut back, we were just going to keep running it until they did something about it.”

Walker was caught from behind on several plays and had a few negative gains due to his desire to cut and dance past defenders instead of blowing past them. Weis saw advantages and disadvantages to his running back’s approach.

“I thought he showed really good patience,” Weis said. “You’ll see there’s a lot of time where he wasn’t just turning the corner, he was letting the blocks get set up first.

“I said to him today coming off, I said, ‘You know, you showed really good patience. Now you ran about as fast as me, but you showed really good patience.'”

Notes

Morton injured in third

Irish center Bob Morton was helped off the field in the third quarter Saturday after a Rashon Powers-Neal first-down rush went for no gain. Morton appeared to resist placing his left leg even touching the ground. Notre Dame kicked a 25-yard field goal to go up, 22-3, but Morton did not return.

Backup center John Sullivan replaced Morton on the following series.

“I just know at that point of the game, we were making sure that anyone who was getting injured wasn’t going back,” Weis said.

Morton’s status is unknown.

McKnight sits out again

Wide receiver Rhema McKnight sat out his second consecutive game Saturday after being listed day-to-day throughout the practice week.

McKnight injured his knee on a reception from Brady Quinn in the first half of Notre Dame’s 17-10 win at Michigan on Sept. 12.

He had a subsequent, unspecified procedure done on his knee and has not played in a game since.

Ndukwe on a streak

Irish free safety Chinedum Ndukwe has recovered a fumble in each of the team’s first four games this season.

On Saturday, he forced and recovered a fumble from Washington wide receiver Craig Chambers to halt the Huskies game-opening scoring drive.

It was Ndukwe’s fifth career fumble recovery.

Playing debuts

Freshman Ray Herring made his Notre Dame debut when he lined up on special teams for the opening kickoff Saturday.

Junior Dwight Stephenson, Jr., who lined up on the defensive line in the fourth quarter, became the 19th player to make his debut in the first four games of the season.

Captains

Brady Quinn (offense), Brandon Hoyte (defense) and John Carlson (special teams) were captains for the Irish Saturday.

Coin toss

Washington won the toss and elected to receive. Notre Dame defended the north end zone.