Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 21, 2013 Issue

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 34 of 108

Shamrocked Notre Dame produces a balanced performance en route to 37-34 win over Arizona State in the Lone Star State F By Andrew Owens or a few minutes, it looked as if the travails of the 2013 Irish resurfaced to provide another debilitating punch to a team that six weeks ago carried voluminous expectations. On the first play of the fourth quar‑ ter and with Notre Dame holding a 24‑13 lead plus the momentum, senior quarterback Tommy Rees forced a pass to junior DaVaris Daniels that instead fell into the arms of Arizona State cor‑ nerback Osahon Irabor. The redshirt sophomore returned the interception 37 yards for what appeared to be a gamechanging touchdown. But on this week, in this venue, Notre Dame (4‑2) countered every Sun Devils punch and snuffed each spark in an eventual 37‑34 Irish win. Notre Dame received valuable contributions from each of its three units to claim a fifth consecutive Shamrock Series win. "Thus far, I would say it's the most significant performance for us, and it's a big performance for a much-needed win heading into the bye week," se‑ nior wide receiver and captain TJ Jones said. "It's as balanced [a game] as we've had. You saw glimpses of ev‑ erything coming together tonight and us being a whole." After Rees' miscue — his second in‑ terception returned for a touchdown in as many weeks — junior kicker Kyle Brindza put the Irish up 27‑20 with a 33-yard field goal. When the Sun Devils (3-2) tied the game two and a half minutes after that, Brindza put the Irish ahead for good with a 25-yarder that made it 30‑27. Even the maligned Irish defense demonstrated signs of its 2012 play‑ making self with three takeaways, in‑ cluding a 14-yard interception return for a touchdown by fifth-year senior linebacker Dan Fox. Junior safety Mat‑ thias Farley also intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter, and senior corner‑ back Bennett Jackson earlier forced a fumble that led to seven points. Although the Sun Devils scored 34 points, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly pointed to signs that the defense is playing its best football entering the bye week. "I don't think it was just this week," he said. "I just felt like we were getting better. Not to the level where we feel like we have arrived. We think there's a lot left out there that needs to get better. "I just felt like the personnel that we had was getting better, and we were

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