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Football: Kelly Era opens with Irish victory

Douglas Farmer | Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Brian Kelly era started, after more than eight months of anticipation, with a 23-12 victory over Purdue Saturday.

In his first career start for the Irish, quarterback Dayne Crist threw for 205 yards and one touchdown, a five-yard pass to freshman TJ Jones that put Notre Dame up 20-3.

“I thought [Crist] started well, and I think we have some things that we have to work on,” Kelly said of Crist’s play. “I told him he didn’t have to win the Heisman today, but he did have to help us win, and he helped us win.”

Sophomore running back Cierre Wood tallied 58 yards on the first seven carries of his career. Wood’s first four carries yielded 41 yards. One play later, senior running back Armando Allen put an exclamation mark on the Irish running attack with a 22-yard touchdown scamper to give Notre Dame its first points of the season.

“We believe both [Allen and Wood] are outstanding backs,” Kelly said. “We had some good looks today to run the football, and I thought they manufactured some runs and then obviously utilized their athletic ability.”

The leading scorer for the Irish was not Crist or Allen though, but rather senior kicker David Ruffer, converting two extra point attempts and three field goals, from 22, 46 and 37 yards.

“Early in the season, special teams are huge,” Kelly said. “I thought our kicking game was outstanding today. Obviously the field goals were huge.”

The Notre Dame defense limited Purdue and its dual-threat quarterback Robert Marve to few open opportunities. Marve did manage a 23-yard touchdown run, but outside of that play, the Boilermakers only tallied 79 rushing yards. Notre Dame sacked Marve four times and intercepted him twice.

“We played aggressively, we played fast and we competed for the ball,” Kelly said. “Obviously, we had some huge stops in the short field, and anytime you can do that you can feed off that energy, and I thought we had great energy today.”

Purdue brought Allen down in the end zone early in the fourth quarter for a safety, bringing the score to 20-5, before the Marve touchdown run and Ruffer’s last field goal provided the final margin.