Kessler earns spot in ND record books with six-touchdown performance
Brian Hartnett | Saturday, November 29, 2014
LOS ANGELES — The six touchdown passes thrown by Trojans redshirt junior quarterback Cody Kessler mark the most ever thrown against Notre Dame by an opponent in a single game. Former USC quarterback Matt Leinart and former Pitt quarterback Tyler Palko held the previous record of five touchdown passes in a single game, which both came in 2004. Kessler tied Leinart and Palko in the first half. USC’s 35 first downs also mark the most ever gained against Notre Dame in a single game, eclipsing the previous high of 34 by Stanford in 1997.
Kessler also set a career high with 32 completions and tied the USC record for most touchdown passes in a half with five touchdowns in the first half.
An already-shorthanded Notre Dame defense suffered further losses Saturday, as several players left the game with injuries.
In the secondary, sophomore safety Max Redfield suffered a broken rib, and graduate student safety Austin Collinsworth suffered another separated shoulder, Irish coach Brian Kelly said.
In the trenches, freshman defensive lineman Jay Hayes left the game with a high ankle sprain, and sophomore defensive lineman Jacob Matuska exited the game with a shoulder injury, per Kelly.
Freshmen linebackers Nyles Morgan and Greer Martini both left the game at various points, though Morgan later returned. Martini suffered a quadriceps injury, according to Kelly.
Graduate student cornerback Cody Riggs did not play Saturday, out with a nagging ankle injury. Kelly said in his weekly Tuesday press conference that he expected Riggs to be available for around 30 plays against the Trojans.
Notre Dame sophomore receiver Will Fuller passed the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the season with a 26-yard reception in the second quarter. Fuller is the eighth player in Notre Dame history to record more than 1,000 yards receiving in a single season.
Irish sophomore running back Greg Bryant set a career high with 79 rushing yards against USC, besting his previous high of 71 against Rice on Aug. 30. Bryant’s 27-yard run in the third quarter eclipsed his previous career high, also set against Rice.
Matuska made his first career start Saturday, becoming the 19th different player to start on defense for Notre Dame this season. A trio of sophomores — defensive lineman Isaac Rochell, linebacker Jaylon Smith and cornerback Cole Luke — are the only players that have started all 12 games on defense for the Irish this season.