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Jonas Gray gets first career touchdown

Allan Joseph | Monday, September 26, 2011

PITTSBURGH — Senior running back Jonas Gray’s 79-yard scamper in the second quarter was the first touchdown of his college career. It was also the longest touchdown run by a Notre Dame player since Terrance Howard’s 80-yard run at West Virginia on Oct. 21, 2000.

“It was a big-time run,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said. “When your two-back gets in there and gets a chance and makes a big play — that’s what we expect from Jonas.”

Mistakes still a problem

Notre Dame had two turnovers in the first half against Pittsburgh, bringing its total to 15 on the season — most of which have come at bad times. Six turnovers have occurred while the Irish were in the red zone, and another five occurred when Notre Dame was backed up inside its own 20-yard line.

The Irish also committed eight penalties for 85 yards.

“We’ll keep coaching our guys,” Kelly said. “We do not accept penalties as being part of the game. We demand our guys to pay attention to those things over and over again.”

Defense shines

The Irish defense stepped up again Saturday, allowing the Panthers just 3.8 yards per offensive play and limiting the Notre Dame recorded six sacks Saturday, the highest total under Kelly and the most since the Irish had eight sacks against Hawaii in the 2008 Hawaii Bowl.

Tuitt plays nose

Freshman defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt saw significant action at the nose guard position against Pitt, splitting time with senior Sean Cwynar and sophomore Louis Nix.

“It’s just another move towards getting [the freshmen] on the field,” Kelly said. “If you move one of the guards down to double him, it frees up two guys and they’re one-on-one ­— and you’ve got to double Tuitt. If you don’t double Tuitt inside, it’s a pass rush and you’re in trouble.

“Normally nose guards aren’t great pass rushers. Tuitt’s big enough to play the position every down, and he gives you a great pass rush.”