Notre Dame put together an impressive opening drive that saw them reach the one yard line. Jonas Gray on a hand off had the ball stripped from him at the goal line. It was recovered and returned by Kayvon Webster for a 96 yard touchdown.
The “unlucky day” for the Irish, continued. Two fumbles (should have been three as Theo Riddick barely caught a Kickoff for a fair catch), multiple dropped passes, penalties, and a Dayne Crist interception in the end zone soon followed. Lou Holz’s squad capitalized on these opportunities as K Maikon Bonnani hit three field goals and put the Bulls ahead 16-0.
This nightmarish first half by the Irish was saved by the weather. As if devised by Brian Kelly himself a wicked rain storm barreled through Note Dame Stadium at the end of the first half with rain and lightning causing the first evacuation in the stadium’s history. The interruption in play lasted for 2 hours, 10 minutes before players returned to the field and fans to the stands.
Tommy Rees then entered the game in the second half to engineer yet another Fighting Irish comeback. In spite of his impressive numbers (296 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs) his effort proved to be too little too late as Notre Dame fell to South Florida 23-20.
This was an extremely frustrating loss for the Irish who bested the Bulls in every offensive statistical category including first downs (27-20) and total yards (508-254). Unfortunately, Notre Dame also led in turnovers (5-0) as well. The loss overshadows tremendous games for both RB Cierre Wood (21 CAR, 104 YDS, 1 TD) and Michael Floyd (12 REC, 154 YDS 2 TD).
For the South Florida Bulls, erratic QB B.J. Daniels (18/30, 128 YDS, 1 TD, 37 RUSH YDS) and WR Sterling Griffin (8 REC, 75 YDS) both turned in solid efforts.
The Fighting Irish next travel to Michigan Stadium to play the Michigan Wolverines next Saturday.