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Crist marks 21st birthday with victory

Douglas Farmer | Monday, October 11, 2010

Irish junior quarterback Dayne Crist celebrated his 21st birthday in style Saturday, with 242 passing yards and two total touchdowns.

“No better present than getting a win on your birthday,” Crist said. “The guys wished me a happy birthday. We were really celebrating the win, and there’s not a better feeling.”

Time of possession

The Irish had the ball for more time than they did in any other game this season — 28:38. Nonetheless, Notre Dame’s average time of possession remains among the lowest in the country, at 26:07. Only two of the 120 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision hold onto the ball for less time: Houston at 24:03 and Middle Tennessee State at 23:57.

“At the end of the day I’m not a big time of possession guy,” Kelly said. “I’d rather have more points on the board than time of possession and sitting here going we won time of possession but we lost.”

Notre Dame ranks 82nd in the country in points per game at 24.33.

Touchdown marches

Notre Dame had its longest touchdown drive of the season last week against Boston College, lasting 4:44, until the Irish scored their first touchdown Saturday, covering 77 yards in 13 plays and 4:50.

Their next touchdown drive lasted 6:23, as Notre Dame used 15 plays to cover 80 yards. The Irish had mounted only one touchdown drive longer than 6:23 in the last two seasons — a drive that lasted 6:40 against Pittsburgh in 2009.

Kicking, kicking, kicking

Senior kicker David Ruffer continued his streak of perfection, as he sent three kicks through the field goal uprights Saturday. Those three field goals brought his season total to 16, on 16 attempts. The streak of 16 consecutive successful field goals is the longest in Notre Dame history, yet alone the longest to open a career. The previous record was held by sophomore Nick Tausch, set last year at 14 field goals. Ruffer’s field goals were 32-, 50- and 31-yards.

The 50-yarder is the sixth-longest field goal in history, and the first of more than 50 yards since 2003.

“Ruffer is obviously doing things that obviously not many people, including myself, thought he could do,” Kelly said. “He’s just been outstanding. The kicking game and the kickers, in particular, were very strong.”

Sophomore punter Ben Turk also performed above expectations Saturday. Turk entered the game with a net punting average of 36.52, but two 51-yard punts helped his average on the afternoon reach 47 yards.