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Irish defeat Army 41-9

Kyle Cassily | Saturday, November 18, 2006

Irish quarterback Brady Quinn jumped into the student section clad in his green jersey Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium and led the crowd in a chant of ‘Beat SC’, after leading his offense to a 41-9 win over Army.

“[Notre Dame Stadium] is really special,” Quinn said. “It’s just somewhere I will always be able to come back to and have very fond memories and know that it’s changed my life in a very good way.”

Quinn overcame an anemic first quarter during which he threw an interception to Black Knights free safety Jordan Murray and completed 3-of-6 passes for only 2 yards with a passer rating of 19.47 in his – and the rest of the senior class’ – last home game. He completed 22-of-30 passes for 218 yards with a touchdown and an interception on the game.

Irish running back Darius Walker became only the fourth running back in Irish history to eclipse the 1,000 yard rushing mark in back-to-back seasons on a 13-yard run up the middle just after the opening of the second half. He rushed for 162 yards on 24 carries – the second highest total yards in a game in his career – and had two touchdowns.

“It’s always important to get in there and establish the run, so we can dictate the game,” Walker said. “We felt like we controlled it the whole time. We could take 20-play drives or whatever it need be to get into the end zone, so we knew we felt good about that.”

Notre Dame reversed a first-quarter Army lead with a three-touchdown second quarter, possessing the ball for 9:26 to go up 21-3.

Walker broke a 10-yard run up the middle into the end zone to put the Irish back on top of the Black Knights 7-3. It was Walker’s fourth carry of the six-play, 50-yard drive during which he picked up 33 yards on the ground and another 15 yards in the air from a Quinn pass.

The first Irish scoring drive, however, was almost derailed before it began when George West fumbled the kickoff return, but defensive back Kyle McCarthy was there to recover the loose ball on the Irish 35-yard line.

Jeff Samardzija and Rhema McKnight then added a reception touchdown each on 16 and 8-yard passes, respectively, from Quinn. McKnight had two touchdowns on three receptions for the day.

“I went and told [the offense], you have to be patient fellas. We’re not going to score in big chunks here,” Irish coach Charlie Weis said. “We are going to nickel and dime them because that’s what they have been dictating for you to do.”

The Irish came out in a no-huddle offense on their opening drive, but Quinn threw his first interception in 227 pass attempts when a pass intended for Samardzija up the middle was intercepted by Army free safety Jordan Murray and returned for 22 yards. The Black Knights, however, could not mount a drive and turned the ball over on downs at the Notre Dame 30-yard line.

The Irish added two touchdowns in the third quarter on a Walker rush and a pass to McKnight to open up a 34-3 lead.

On the first possession after half the Irish drove quickly up field, completing five first downs in their first five plays. The drive was capped by a five-yard run by Walker up the middle, but the ball was fumbled into the end zone and recovered by wide receiver David Grimes.

On Notre Dame’s next drive, cornerback Mike Richardson picked off Army quarterback Carson Williams on a pass intended for Corey Anderson at the Army 40-yard line.

The 24-yard touchdown reception by Rhema McKnight after the pick with 9:46 remaining in the third quarter was set up the play before by a 14-yard rush by Quinn after he was forced from the pocket.

“They have a great program and in Quinn, they have a premiere football player,” Army coach Bobby Ross said. “And the wide-outs, all three of them today, I think they had a heck of a day against us.”

In the first quarter, a 27-yard field goal by Austin Miller gave Army the initial 3-0 lead with 1:46 remaining in the quarter. The Black Knights drove 47 yards in seven plays for the field goal, including a 23-yard run by running back Wesley McMahand on a sweep to the right sideline that pushed the Black Knights to the Irish 15-yard line. Running back Tony Moore then rushed seven yards to the 9-yard line to set up the Miller kick.

Army added a touchdown with no time left on the clock at the end of the game with a 12-yard pass from second-half quarterback David Pevoto to Tim Dunn to set the final at 41-9.

Walker scored his second touchdown of the game and the last touchdown for the Irish with a 7-yard run at 11:00 in the fourth quarter.