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Mike Gilloon | Wednesday, January 18, 2006

View Slideshow – Photos by Claire Kelley/The Observer

A season that many believe brought a spark back to the Notre Dame football program ended with a thud on Jan. 2 when the Irish fell to Ohio State 34-20 in the Fiesta Bowl. A.J. Hawk and the No. 1-ranked Buckeyes rushing defense held Darius Walker and Notre Dame to 62 total yards on the ground. Quarterback and Dublin, Ohio native Brady Quinn realized a childhood dream when the Irish were paired with the Buckeyes. But Quinn threw no touchdowns for the first time all season and Ohio State sacked him five times – two courtesy of his sister’s boyfriend Hawk. Though Quinn received most of the attention before the game after setting nearly every Notre Dame passing record this season, it was the Buckeyes’ Troy Smith who shined under the desert sun as he went 19-for-28 for 342 yards and two TDs, including an 85-yarder to Ohio State speedster Ted Ginn, Jr. Irish coach Charlie Weis was frustrated that his team was only down 27-20 late in the game but couldn’t force Ohio State to give the ball back, as running back Antonio Pittman streaked 60 yards down the Buckeyes’ sideline with 1:46 remaining to cement the victory. Notre Dame has now lost eight consecutive bowl games, with the last win a 24-21 victory over Texas A&M in the 1994 Cotton Bowl when Quinn was nine years old.