Stovall, Samardzija dominate Cougars
Ken Fowler | Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Notre Dame’s duo of 6-foot-5 receivers paired up to break several Irish records Saturday in a 49-23 victory over BYU.
Maurice Stovall and Jeff Samardzija combined for 359 yards and six touchdowns for the Irish.
Stovall set two school records and broke a landmark yardage figure on his 24-yard touchdown reception with 2:16 remaining in the third quarter.
Stovall, quarterback Brady Quinn’s top target on the day, broke the 200-yard mark for the first time in his career with his final catch of the day. He finished with 207 yards receiving and four touchdowns.
“We’ve always known Maurice has been capable of doing so much, and today was him showing what he’s able to do once he gets the ball in his hands,” Quinn said.
The touchdown was his fourth receiving score of the afternoon and his 14th reception of the game – both single-game school records.
The 14 catches broke Jim Seymour’s 39-year-old school record set against Purdue in 1966.
Jeff Samardzija continued his torrid touchdown pace, scoring twice in the game to bring his season total to 11 touchdown receptions.
That ties Derrick Mayes’ single-season record set in 1994.
“You’re not out there for personal stats or trying to set records, you’re just trying to make plays and anything else is just icing on the cake,” Samardzija said.
Samardzija’s first touchdown, a 14-yard reception with 10:33 remaining in the second quarter, gave the junior a scoring catch in each of the team’s first seven games of the season, a Notre Dame record.
Sophomore defensive lineman Ronald Talley got his first career start Saturday for the injured Chris Frome. Talley recorded seven tackles and one sack in the game.
Junior defensive tackle Trevor Laws was impressed by Talley’s performance.
Freshman wide receiver D.J. Hord made his first career appearance Saturday, returning two kickoffs for 24 yards.
However, Hord and Brandon Harris collided on the first of the returns, which resulted in a fumble and a return of just three yards.
Weis said he plans on using Hord more in the upcoming games, especially in light of news that wide receiver Rhema McKnight will not return this season.
“[Hord] has improved over the course of the year,” Weis said. “[Hord has] gotten real close to getting in the [normal wide-receiver] rotation,” Weis said.
Keeping it in the air
Notre Dame finished with just 44 rushing yards on the game, but that number is deceiving given the context of the Irish game plan. BYU’s 3-3-5 defense, which utilized a number of different blitzes, led the Irish to throw 41 passes on the day.
“I wouldn’t say the running game got stalled,” Quinn said. “It was just one of those games where you game plan for certain things depending on the weaknesses of the defense. That was something we wanted to exploit today, was the passing game.”
Fullback Asaph Schwapp led Notre Dame with eight carries and 27 yards Saturday, setting personal bests in both categories. It was the first time in his career that he led the Irish in rushing attempts and yards.
Notre Dame’s captains for the game were Quinn on offense, linebacker Brandon Hoyte on defense and Tom Zbikowski on special teams. Quinn and Hoyte were elected captains at the beginning of the season, and the special teams captain is selected on a game-by-game basis.