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From start to finish, Irish roll

Molly Sammon | Monday, October 18, 2010

Only 12 seconds into Notre Dame’s 44-20 victory Saturday, junior receiver Michael Floyd crossed the goal line for the first points of the day.

“We got the one-on-one coverage we expected and we executed,” Floyd said of the 80-yard connection between him and junior quarterback Dayne Crist. “It got everyone on the positive side. Having a play like that led us to our goal to win.”

Though the Irish had a 27-17 lead at halftime, Kelly was not happy with his team’s performance and after what he described as a “little chat” at halftime which focused on detail-oriented changes he wanted to see on the field, the Irish suppressed the Broncos offense to half as many yards in the second half compared to the first.

“I thought we made some poor decisions at the quarterback position. Dayne [Crist] didn’t play very well in the first half. You guys watched the same game I did, he played much better in the second half, saw some things and made some plays,” Kelly said. “We need to play at the level we are capable of, so the conversation with them was, this is not how we play. We need to get back to what we do, which is lock in, be disciplined, no more penalties, and they did a much better job.”

Crist threw for three touchdowns and 225 total passing yards, and ran in one more touchdown from nine yards out.

“I thought the first half was very poor on our end,” Crist said. “There’s no excuse for that. I’ll take the majority of that, because it falls on me. I was not happy how I played. We talked at half time, made some adjustments and knew that I had to come out and play better. I think as a whole our offense played a lot better in the second half, definitely.”

Western Michigan tied the game 7-7 with 3:20 left in the first quarter when Broncos quarterback Alex Carder scrambled into the end zone from one yard out. The Irish quickly responded with three touchdowns in the second quarter.

Despite a nagging hamstring injury which almost held Floyd out of the game, Notre Dame’s leading receiver tallied nine catches for 157 yards and three touchdowns.

After the three second quarter touchdowns led to a 27-17 halftime lead, sophomore running back Cierre Wood kicked off the second half scoring with a 39-yard touchdown run, Notre Dame’s longest touchdown run of the season.

“We ran the ball in the second half effectively the way we should have, and I think we played the game the way I expected to play for four quarters,” Kelly said.

David Ruffer kicked the only Irish field goal with 5:32 left in the game. The successful kick was Ruffer’s 17th straight, the longest streak in the nation.

The win tipped Notre Dame’s 2010 season record over .500 to 4-3, riding a three-game win streak.

“This team was 1-3. I think when we talked about that at the time, you can go in one of two directions at 1-3. You can fall off the cliff and have a disastrous season or you can work towards 9-3,” Kelly said. “Our players are learning, learning how to play football games, regardless of who the competition is. No question, a team that scores points a lot, well coached team; we are pleased that we moved in the right direction.”

The Irish will travel to East Rutherford, New Jersey on Saturday to play Navy.