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Football: Abiamiri, Wooden return home

Eric Retter | Monday, October 30, 2006

BALTIMORE – Senior defensive end Victor Abiamiri and senior cornerback Ambrose Wooden had the opportunity to play in front of their hometown crowd in Baltimore for the first time since joining the Irish Saturday.

“It means a lot, especially being able to come home senior year and play in front of the home crowd,” Abiamiri said. “I had all my family and friends and extended family there in the crowd. I was only able to come up with 12 or 13 [extra tickets] but I had a lot more friends in the stands.”

Weis described Abiamiri – who had four solo tackles and two sacks – as being especially “geeked up” the entire week leading up to the game.

“Sometimes we forget, because we’re sitting in South Bend, Ind., how special it is for guys to have games in their area in their country,” Weis said. “He had adrenaline flowing all week long.”

uSaturday’s sellout crowd of 71,851 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore marked the 61st time in the previous 66 road games Notre Dame has played in front of a capacity attendance.

“I think there’s a strong following [of Notre Dame on the East Coast],” Irish coach Charlie Weis said. “I think half of them might have been my family.

uQuarterback Brady Quinn has not thrown an interception in his last four games – his last coming with 9:04 left in the first half of Notre Dame’s 40-37 win at Michigan State Sept. 23.

He now has 168 consecutive passes without an interception. He has four interceptions – three of them coming on Sept. 11 against Michigan – compared with 21 touchdowns on the season.

Weis jokingly knocked the wooden podium at his post-game press conference when asked about the recent streak.

“He’s a really good player, [and] we really haven’t had a bad game since the one game [against Michigan] earlier in the year,” Weis said. “There’s a little bit of luck sometimes involved. I don’t think there were any balls that were close to being picked today, but we’ve had some balls that were close to being picked off [in the last few games.]”

uFreshman running back James Aldridge had 10-plus carries for the first time in his career. He rushed for 33 yards on 12 fourth quarter carries. Aldridge – who missed much of the first half of the season with a knee injury – had four carries for 26 yards against Stanford Oct. 7.

Coming into the game, Weis had hoped Aldridge would have opportunity to carry the ball between 10 and 15 times.

“[We wanted] to start building his stamina,” he said. “Fortunately we got him in there and got him hit a little bit too, which is a good thing for him … Now he’s been hit a little bit, [and] it means that he’ll physically and mentally keep on gaining some confidence.”

u Sophomore wide receiver David Grimes’ 36-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter was his first career touchdown. The reception was also the longest of his career. Grimes finished with three catches for 72 yards, and he now has 16 receptions for 206 yards this season.

Weis said he is pleased with Grimes’ progression over the last few weeks.

“This is a couple games in a row now that he’s making some plays for us,” he said.

uFreshman running back Munir Prince did not travel with the team to Baltimore. Weis would not give the specifics pertaining to Prince’s absence.

“Munir [Prince] didn’t make the trip because he didn’t deserve to be on the trip,” Weis said.

Prince has 12 carries for 21 yards this season.

uLinebacker Anthony Vernaglia was injured on the kickoff return following Navy’s first touchdown early in the second quarter, and did not return. Weis was not sure of the specifics of his injury immediately following the game.

“He did something with his knee,” Weis said. “I saw him wrapped with an ice bag at halftime.”