Pete DiPrimio, sports columnist and college beat writer for The News-Sentinel of Fort Wayne, Ind., takes his best shots on the world of Notre Dame football.

Saturday, November 25

USC Takes 21-10 Halftime Lead

Thank heaven for Steve Quinn who is not, no matter how much you might want it to be true, related to Brady.

Steve, a seldom-used Notre Dame linebacker, gave the Irish a chance with a momentum-sparking second-quarter blocked punt that set up Notre Dame’s first touchdown – Brady Quinn to Marcus Freeman and provided hope that a 21-3 deficit wasn’t insurmountable.

Thank heaven for Mike Richardson, whose interception after that first touchdown seemed to suggest a major rally, until Rhema McKnight had his second drop of what should have been a first-down-making reception.

Thank heaven for Trevor Laws –- Trevor Laws! –- whose interception seconds later again rejuvenated Irish hopes.

They were dashed, of course. Why? Because the much-hyped offense, and not the much-maligned defense, couldn’t make a play. Quinn was just 8-for-23, in part because of McKnight drops, in part because of his own inaccuracy and poor choices.

The result was a 21-10 USC lead.

USC won the toss and deferred, which meant Notre Dame would receive, which was just the way coach Charlie Weis wanted it.

Quinn went deep the first play. Rhema McKnight made a great 38-yard sideline catch over tight coverage by Terrell Thomas. For a moment, the Irish had the momentum.

Notre Dame faced fourth and 9 at the USC 29. Of course Weis went for it. The Irish lack a reliable field goal kicker, and why mess with a punt when the odds favored it going into the end zone for a touchback, giving USC the ball on the 20.

The gamble didn’t work. A pressured Quinn might have run for the first down, but he overthrew McKnight instead.

USC then marched ruthlessly for a touchdown and the early lead.

That was not the way Weis wanted it.

It wouldn’t be the last time it happened in a first half of missed Irish opportunities.


Post a Comment

<< Home