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First Half Wrap: Oklahoma 21, Notre Dame 7

Brian Hartnett | Saturday, September 28, 2013

In a scene eerily reminiscent of parts of the 2011 season, No. 22 Notre Dame struggled to hold onto the ball in the first half, as the Irish turned the ball over three times to help No. 14 Oklahoma jump out to a 21-7 lead at halftime at Notre Dame Stadium.

Oklahoma (3-0) took the lead just 49 seconds into the game when senior linebacker Corey Nelson intercepted Notre Dame senior quarterback Tommy Rees’ pass on third and seven and returned it 24 yards for the Sooner touchdown.

On the first play of Notre Dame’s second drive, Rees’ pass over the middle was tipped by senior linebacker Aaron Colvin and intercepted by sophomore linebacker Frank Shannon, who returned it to the Notre Dame 32-yard line.

The Sooners moved the ball down the field quickly and scored after just four plays when senior running back Damian Williams ran it in from 11 yards to put Oklahoma up 14-0.

After the teams traded punts, Notre Dame marched back down the field on a methodical 10 play, 80-yard touchdown drive that concluded with a six-yard touchdown pass from Rees to Jones. The drive saw several quarterback changes, as Andrew Hendrix came in for three plays. Freshman running back Tarean Folston put the Irish in the red zone with a 36-yard run.

After both teams punted on their following drives, the next two possessions both concluded in turnovers.  After starting at its own nine-yard line, Oklahoma moved the ball into Irish territory, but Irish junior linebacker Ishaq Williams and graduate student Carlo Calabrese stopped Bell short on a fourth down at the Notre Dame 43-yard line.

Notre Dame moved the ball into Oklahoma territory, but its drive was stopped when Rees’ pass was deflected by freshman linebacker Zack Sanchez and intercepted by junior linebacker Julian Wilson.

Oklahoma finished out the half by pushing down the field on a 10 play, 88-yard touchdown drive. Bell converted a pair of third downs using both his legs and his arm and then put the Sooners in the end zone with a 26-yard touchdown strike to senior receiver Lacoltan Bester.

Rees finished the first half 6-of-13 with 52 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions, making him the first Irish quarterback in ten years to throw three interceptions in a half.

The Irish running game got off to a strong start, as Notre Dame finished the first half with 112 yards on 20 carries. Folston finished with 43 yards on two carries, while junior running back George Atkinson had 37 yards on seven carries.

On the other side, Bell finished 12-of-16 with 102 yards and one touchdown for the Sooners. He was also their leading rusher with 34 yards on six carries.

Contact Brian Hartnett at bhartnet@nd.edu.