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In first meeting since 1920, results don’t change

Molly Sammon | Monday, October 18, 2010

Ninety years since their last meeting, Notre Dame brought its series lead over Western Michigan to 3-0 with the victory Saturday. In fact, in their previous two meetings, the Broncos failed to score a point.

Saturday’s game also marked the first time the Irish have played a Mid-American Conference team since the conference came into existence in 1946. Amid all the firsts, the win caught Notre Dame’s eye the most.

“We were 3-3 coming into [today’s] game, so it wasn’t about who we were playing. It was about us, as a team, improving. The fact that [the Broncos] were from the MAC, didn’t matter to us,” junior defensive end Ethan Johnson said. “They had some things for us that were difficult for us to take on in the first quarter. They had some exotic formations that we had to adjust to and they did a good job keeping us on our heels in the first quarter.”

Irish Firsts

The game yielded many firsts for Notre Dame players, including sophomore tight end Tyler Eifert’s first touchdown – a 39-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Dayne Crist in the second quarter – and sophomore running back Cierre Wood’s first touchdown – a 39-yard run in the third quarter.

Junior receiver John Goodman has scored for Notre Dame previously, but he has always been on the receiving end of touchdown passes. Saturday, Goodman threw a touchdown pass instead, even though he made the run wrong decision on the play according to Irish coach Brian Kelly.

“Yeah, it was the wrong read,” Kelly said. “He was supposed to throw it to Tyler Eifert who was wide open. You’re never wrong if you’re right, but great pass.”

Eifert and Goodman played for Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne, Ind. together, where Goodman, a quarterback in high school, threw multiple touchdown passes to Eifert.

“I told him [Eifert] 100 times I’m sorry about that. It would have been pretty cool because we haven’t hooked up (for a touchdown pass) since high school, but in the end it turned out alright with the pass to Michael (Floyd). Both guys are open all the time on that play, but it just so happens that I made the wrong decision,” Goodman said.

Possession Obsession

For the first time this season, Notre Dame controlled the ball longer than its opponent did, holding onto it for 30:35. A Kelly-coached team has not accomplished that feat in more than two years.

“I’m really surprised and disappointed I didn’t get this comment made, but for the first time in two and a half years, we won time of possession,” Kelly said. “For all of you guys that live and die on time of possession, please note that we won today’s time of possession.”

Nonetheless, Kelly emphasized, as he has all season, that he does not feel time of possession accurately depicts who controlled the game.

“Scoring points is the number one thing,” Kelly said. “When we needed to control the ball in the second half, we did, and obviously took about five minutes off the clock late in the game when it was pretty much in our hands. Again, we are going to score points first and time of possession comes later down the road.

Notre Dame’s previous high in time of possession came last week against Pittsburgh, at 28:38, which raised the Irish season average to 26:07, then 118th in the country. Saturday’s total raised Notre Dame’s average to 26:45, 114th in the country, ahead of six other teams.