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Irish Drive Over Army

Nov. 12, 2016

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NOVEMBER 12, 2016 -- The University of Notre Dame football team improved to 4-6 on the season with a 44-6 victory over Army (5-5) in a Shamrock Series game at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas on Saturday afternoon. The Irish utilized a balanced attack to take down the Black Knights, rushing for 261 yards while passing for an additional 215 yards.

DeShone Kizer threw three touchdowns in the contest and rushed for an additional 72 yards. Two of Kizer's scoring tosses ended up in the hands of native Texan Durham Smythe in the first half.

Notre Dame returns home next week for senior day to face Virginia Tech at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

HOW IT HAPPENED:

Notre Dame seized the momentum of the game on the opening kickoff, which was returned for a touchdown by C.J. Sanders and the Irish never looked back. The score was 21-0 at the end of the first quarter and 38-6 at halftime. The 32 point advantage at halftime was the highest for the Irish since 2003.

TURNING POINT:

CJ Sanders kick return

The Turning Point in this game ended up as the opening kickoff as C.J. Sanders returned the kick 92 yards for an instant 7-0 lead for the Fighting Irish. Sanders set the tone for the contest and posted his third kick return for a touchdown in his career. Add in his punt return for a touchdown from last season and Sanders has four career returns to rank fourth all-time at Notre Dame.

PLAY OF THE GAME:

Kevin Stepherson 37-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter.

The Irish held Army to a three-and-out on its first offensive possession. Looking to keep up the momentum from Holmes' kick return, Kizer found Stepherson wide open on a first down play action pass to put the Irish up 14-0 and seize full control of the game. Stepherson would end the game with a career-best five catches.

PLAYERS OF THE GAME:

Offense: Durham Smythe, 2 catches, 2 touchdowns

Senior Durham Smythe enjoyed a return to his home state with two touchdown catches in the first half of the game. The Belton, Texas (about 150 miles north of San Antonio) native posted the first multi-touchdown performance of his career at the Alamodome.

Defense: James Onwualu, 13 tackles, 1 sack, 1.5 tackles for loss.

Onwualu played perhaps his best game of the season against the Black Knights, leading the Irish with a career-best 13 tackles.

STAT OF THE GAME:

Notre Dame team rushing yards: 261.

Notre Dame rushed for a season-high 261 yards in the game, led by senior Tarean Folston (84 yards, one touchdown). The 261 yards surpass the previous season-high mark of 239 against Nevada and mark the third time in 2016 the Irish have rushed for over 200 yards (including 206 at Texas).

It also marks the first time Notre Dame has out-rushed a triple option opponent since outrunning Navy 293-149 in Dublin, Ireland, to start the 2012 season.

NOTES OF THE GAME:

  • A season-high 11 different receivers caught a pass for the Irish today, helping overcome the loss of starting wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr., who missed the contest today with a knee injury. Hunter is expected to return to the lineup next weekend against Virginia Tech.
  • Graduate student Mark Harrell made his first career start at right guard for the Irish, helping the Irish rush for season-high 261 yards.
  • Notre Dame improves to 8-0 in the Shamrock Series (a traditional Notre Dame home game shifted to different venues around the country). The Irish now 2-0 in the Shamrock Series in San Antonio (including a 40-14 win over Washington State in 2009) and 2-0 against Army in the series (27-3 at Yankee Stadium in 2010).
  • Freshman Julian Love recorded his first career interception in the fourth quarter at the goal line to end an Army scoring threat.
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