“There’s no asterisk next to this one. This is a W. We’re excited about it,” he said.
Notre Dame (7-2) improved to 11-1 in November in four seasons under Kelly and clinched its fourth consecutive winning season, the first time that’s happened since 1995-98. The Irish also keep alive their hopes for a BCS bowl berth.Apple-converted-space”> NavyApple-converted-space”> lost for the third time in the past four games.
Notre Dame has won its past 10 games decided by a touchdown or less, tying Kelly with Knute Rockne for the second-longest such streak in school history. Elmer Layden holds the record with 12.
The bright spot for Notre Dame was the play of freshman running back Tarean Folston, who scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 1-yard plunge and rushed for 144 yards on 18 carries, with 116 yards in the second half. He had rushed for only 116 yards on 22 carries before Saturday.
“There was just a big mess, so I just jumped over,” Folston said of his TD run.
Notre Dame finished with 506 yards total offense, averaging 9 yards per play, the most for the Irish since 1998. Tommy Rees threw touchdown passes to TJ Jones and Ben Koyack, George Atkinson III scored on a 41-yard run and Cam McDaniel added a TD. Rees was 12-of-20 passing for 242 yards with two interceptions. It was the third time this season Rees has thrown at least two interceptions. The Irish lost the other two against Michigan and against Oklahoma.
Reynolds completed six of nine passes for 88 yards, including two key passes that gaveApple-converted-space”> NavyApple-converted-space”> its final lead. First he threw an 18-yard pass to Marcus Thomas to the Notre Dame 49. After three running plays, Reynolds then found a wide open Matt Aiken for a 34-yard score.
“Coach put together a brilliant game plan. We were able to execute it on the field and move the ball,” Reynolds said
“When you play a team like that, you try to get out to an early lead and take them out of their game plan. If not, you’re going to have a nail biter like that because they do a great job of staying on the field offensively and limiting your touches,” Rees said.