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FOOTBALL: Past and present

Mike Gilloon | Monday, April 25, 2005

Irish quarterback Brady Quinn took the snap, rolled to his left and, in mid-stride, hit tight end Anthony Fasano in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. This was a fitting beginning to a near-perfect day for Quinn and the Blue team during their 28-6 victory over the Gold in the 76th Annual Blue-Gold game Saturday in Notre Dame Stadium.Quinn was named offensive game MVP for the second consecutive year after completing 8-12 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns, the first being the 19-yard strike to Fasano with 3:38 left in the first quarter. “I thought it was beautiful out there today,” head coach Charlie Weis said about both the game and the chilly weather Saturday. He was joined on the sidelines by Tim Brown, Joe Montana, Joe Theismann and Chris Zorich.The Blue squad consisted of both the first team offense and defense while the Gold team featured the second units.”I think it was very good that we got a chance to play with the first team against the second team because we got a chance to stay as a unit,” Blue running back Darius Walker said. “We’re all kind of gelling and clicking and I think that’s going to help us down the line.”The teams’ talent disparity was apparent as the Blue built a 28-0 lead before Gold quarterback Marty Mooney threw a pass to himself for his side’s only score. Mooney’s pass was deflected at the line of scrimmage but he caught the batted ball and ran 11 yards for the touchdown.Walker tallied 83 yards on 10 carries to lead all rushers.”I think I ran very well today,” Walker said. “I was seeing the holes.”Walker’s Gold counterpart, Travis Thomas, ran nine times for a total of six yards against a dominant Blue defensive line that limited the Gold to one first down and 15 yards of total offense. Rashon Powers-Neal lined up at both fullback and running back while tallying 51 yards on seven carries along with a pair of touchdowns.”It was a little bit of a mismatch personnel-wise,” Weis said. “But I’m encouraged that some guys are starting to play themselves into the mix and starting to establish some depth [on the defensive line].”Blue defensive tackle Trevor Laws earned defensive MVP honors as he recorded one sack and three tackles for loss.Wide receiver Rhema McKnight caught Quinn’s other scoring pass, hauling in a 12-yard touchdown with 6:40 left in the first half. Blue tight end John Carlson made two catches, one for 39 yards, and wide receiver teammate Jeff Samardzija had one catch for 37 yards. David Wolke started at quarterback for the Gold team, completing two of 11 passes and getting sacked five times. Quinn is the starter at quarterback but no backup has been named. “I think at all the positions we have a pretty good idea who ‘1’ and ‘1a’ are,” Weis said. “We have a pretty good idea who we’d put if we were going to line up 11 on 11. Of the guys in that 11, there’s always a couple people that are right on the cusp of joining that group. So I think that we probably know our first 15 guys on offense and our first 15 guys on defense.”

Notesu Blue tight end John Carlson was injured with 14:05 left in the fourth quarter. He walked to the locker room minutes later with assistance from trainers. u Weis told the team before the game he was going to have the officials call an excessive celebration penalty after every Blue touchdown. Consequently the squad displayed several creative celebrations. After Powers-Neal’s second touchdown in the fourth quarter, the fullback/running back rolled the football at his teammates – acting as human bowling pins – who then fell down as if they had been bowled over. u Special teams play was stunted Saturday as Weis didn’t allow returners to be hit. Nevertheless, McKnight and Blue safety Tom Zbikowski fielded kicks. Gold punter Geoff Price averaged 31 yards on five punts while the Blue’s D.J. Fitzpatrick averaged 37.5 yards on two punts. Fitzpatrick missed the game’s only field goal attempt, a 33-yard try at the end of the first half.