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Football: Irish down Army in Big Apple

Douglas Farmer | Saturday, November 20, 2010

Notre Dame ended its two-day tour of New York City with “the most important thing,” as Irish coach Brian Kelly said after Notre Dame’s 27-3 victory over Army Saturday night.

“Winning the football game is the most important thing,” Kelly said.

In their two days, the Irish ate lunch with Regis Philbin, rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange, enjoyed a pep rally at Lincoln Center and wore green jerseys at Yankee Stadium.

“New York’s a lot of things, and what it was tonight was a college football town,” Kelly said. “It was an exciting atmosphere. I know that our kids fed off the energy that was here in New York for the past 48 hours. I’m very excited for our football team to be here at Yankee Stadium, and to play well obviously.”

Playing well began with Notre Dame’s defense, which only gave up 174 yards of total offense to the Black Knights, compared to the 438 yards against Navy on Oct. 23.

“Clearly, we needed to be more physical,” Kelly said. “Obviously, when you play an option team, you want to be able to use the point of attack as a focal point … I just think that the scheme for us was about being more physical.”

After allowing Army a 78-yard drive in the first quarter, the Irish responded with 27 unanswered points. Freshman quarterback Tommy Rees ended the day with 214 passing yards, 78 of which landed in the hands of sophomore tight end Tyler Eifert. One of Eifert’s four catches brought the Irish to the two-inch line to set up their first score, and another of his grabs produced a 31-yard touchdown.

“It’s something we work on during practice,” Rees said. “Tyler’s a really athletic guy, and certain match-ups favor size and athleticism, and he did a great job with that.”

The win brings Notre Dame’s record to 6-5, making the Irish bowl eligible.

“As you continue to develop your program, those 15 practices are very important,” Kelly said. “Now if I brought that up in the locker room, my players don’t want to hear about 15 more practices. They want to hear about what’s the bowl destination.”