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Atkinson’s kick return sets records

Molly Sammon | Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Freshman running back George Atkinson’s 96-yard touchdown kickoff return was the longest at Notre Dame Stadium since Julius Jones’ 100-yard runback against Nebraska in 2000. Atkinson’s return just three minutes before the half is tied for the fifth longest in stadium history. Atkinson is one of four players in the NCAA that has two kickoff returns for scores in 2011, and his pair of touchdowns matches the program record.

Rees’ streak snapped

Sophomore quarterback Tommy Rees closed his streak of consecutive games with a completed touchdown pass after 11 games. Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen are the only other quarterbacks in program history with longer records. Quinn’s 16 passes earned him the first place slot, above Clausen’s 13. Rees also threw his first interception in 135 passes, the third longest streak in Notre Dame football history.

First quarter struggles

The Trojans are the first team this season to outgain the Irish in the first quarter. Before the loss against USC, Notre Dame averaged 6.9 yards per play while their previous opponents gained a combined average of 4.8 yards.

USC outgained the Irish 128-14 in the first period of play and completed eight first downs before Notre Dame’s first. The first quarter’s 14 yards were a team low among all the quarters in Notre Dame’s seven games in 2011.

Night game numbers

After their first night game at home in 21 years, the Irish dropped their overall night game record to 6-2 at Notre Dame Stadium, a .646 percentage. Overall, Notre Dame has faced USC and Miami (Fla.) most often in night games with 11 night games each. Against the Trojans at night, the Irish are 3-7-1. The six night games on the schedule this season mark a Notre Dame record.

Contact Molly Sammon at msammon@nd.edu