|Rees in top flight vs Maryland|
Senior Fighting Irish running back Jonas Gray rushed for 136 yards on 21 carries and a brace of 1 yard touchdowns to lead the Fighting Irish to a 45-21 victory in front of 70,521 spectators in Fed-Ex field, Maryland, on Saturday night.
It was the seventh consecutive game that Gray has scored a touchdown for the Irish and his 11th overall this season. It also marked the fifth time this season in which Notre Dame amassed over 500 yards in a game, with 508.
Tommy Rees was also in sparkling form, going 30 for 38 296 yards and 2 TD passes to WR Michael Floyd (19 yds) and TE Tyler Eifert (34 yards).
The Irish (7-3) stayed undefeated in their third off-site home game in recent years. The Shamrock Series, as the annual trip has been dubbed, has seen previous stops in San Antonio and New York City’s Yankee Stadium.
The Irish defense also got in on the scoring act when Lorenzo (Lo) Wood picked off a wayward Danny O’Brien pass midway through the third quarter and returned it 57 yards to paydirt to put the Irish ahead 38-7 and put the dagger in the heart of a Maryland comeback.
Even the Irish special teams were not found wanting, and for the first time this season, both Irish kickers, Punter Ben Turk & PK David Ruffer were in great form. Senior Ruffer hit a career long 52 yard field goal towards the end of the first quarter, which put him at a steady 7-11 mark for the season. Ruffer is now a very respectable 30-35 in his FG kicking career at Notre Dame.
Irish Punter Ben Turk had struggled all season long in averaging a below par 39 yards a boot, but the game against the Terrapins saw him hit a career long also, a 58 yard bomb.
This really was a Notre Dame performance that left very little for even the most stubborn of Irish fans to quip about, they were extremely solid all-round.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly wouldn’t come out and say it was Rees’ best game in a Notre Dame uniform, but …
“He’s really close,” Kelly said. “He has not put his best game together yet. We’re still not where we want to be on the vertical throws, or better. In terms of efficiency … pretty darn good. He’s accurate, as we all know, and I thought he played as fast as he can play. We have to play a little bit faster, but we’ve worked really hard in practice over the last six weeks of trying to get him to go. I would say this game was probably his best game as it relates to efficiency and tempo.”
Notre Dame now returns home for another game with a struggling ACC team, Boston College. The Irish will be battling their own ability to stay focused as much as a depleted 3-7 Eagles squad. Kelly said he needs his team to put together another complete game on all three sides of the ball and keep from looking ahead at its season finale in Palo Alto against Stanford.