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Football: Irish come up short against Tulsa

Mike Gotimer | Saturday, October 30, 2010

Losses like this one might exemplify why the Class of 2011 has seen the most defeats of any four-year class in Notre Dame history. Yet again, the Irish found themselves with chances to put away an underdog playing at Notre Dame Stadium but couldn’t capitalize on those opportunities. This time, those missed chances ended in a 28-27 loss to Tulsa.

The Irish were put in a difficult spot early in the game when Tulsa linebacker Tanner Antle knocked Irish junior quarterback Dayne Crist out of the game in the first quarter. After falling behind late in the fourth quarter, it looked like the Irish would have a chance to get the win with under a minute to go, but Golden Hurricane cornerback John Flanders intercepted a pass from freshman quarterback Tommy Rees in the endzone to clinch the victory for Tulsa.

“We had one-on-one coverage with [junior wide receiver] Mike [Floyd],” Rees said. “When we have that, we want to take a chance. I underthrew the ball a little bit. The corner made a nice play.”

On the same drive that Crist went down on, Rees led the Irish down the field and connected with Floyd for Notre Dame’s first score. The Golden Hurricane blocked the extra point, however, and Tulsa linebacker Curnelius Arnick returned the ball for a two-point conversion to give Tulsa a 9-6 lead.

With the Irish trailing 12-6 late in the first quarter, Rees connected with freshman wide receiver TJ Jones, who then pitched the ball to sophomore running back Cierre Wood who sprinted 23 yards for a touchdown that gave Notre Dame a 13-12 lead. The Irish didn’t relinquish that lead until Tulsa kicker Kevin Fitzpatrick hit the game winning field goal from 27 yards out with 3:23 remaining in the game.

Irish coach Brian Kelly was pleased with Rees’ performance in relief of Crist. In his first significant game action, the freshman threw four touchdown passes and racked up 334 passing yards.

“I could not be more happy for the kid,” Kelly said. “True freshman going out there, hasn’t played. He just competes.”