Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 3, 2016

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

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Page 50 of 55 OCT. 3, 2016 51 IRISH IN THE PROS BY MATT JONES A season-ending injury to Minne- sota Vikings starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater doesn't appear to have derailed tight end Kyle Ru- dolph's year. Rudolph, a former Notre Dame star, has emerged as one of new starting quarterback Sam Bradford's favorite options, and Rudolph got plenty of looks in the team's 17-14 win over the Green Bay Packers Sept. 18. Playing in the first game at brand- new U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis, Rudolph had three re- ceptions for 31 yards, including an eight-yard touchdown, on eight tar- gets during the Sunday night win. The score was the first by the Vikings in their new stadium (the Packers actually tallied the first touchdown on an earlier drive). Rudolph was second on the team in targets behind wide receiver Ste- fon Diggs. The 6-6, 259-pound Ru- dolph is also the team's best red-zone option, and he'll be leaned on more with a knee injury to starting running back Adrian Peterson, who is ex- pected to miss three to four months. JEWELL LOYD AMONG WNBA SCORING LEADERS Former Notre Dame women's basketball star Jewell Loyd — who currently plays for the Seattle Storm — finished eighth in the WNBA in scoring this season, averaging 16.5 points per game. Loyd, a guard who played for the Irish for three seasons from 2012-15, was the 2015 WNBA Rookie of the Year for the Storm. Starting all 34 games for the Storm this year, she im- proved her numbers from her rookie season. She made 30.3 percent of her three-pointers this year (up from 20.8 percent), had 3.4 assists per game (up from 1.9) and tallied 1.2 steals per game (up from 0.5). She was a key piece for a Seattle team that entered the playoffs as the No. 7 seed. Loyd poured in a team-high 24 points, but the Storm fell 94-85 to the No. 6 seed Atlanta Dream in their single-elimination first-round playoff matchup. Two other former Irish players also participated in the WNBA playoffs. Forwards Natalie Achonwa (2010-14) and Devereaux Peters (2007-12) of the fifth-seeded Indiana Fever lost 89-78 to the No. 8 seed Phoenix Mercury in their single-elimination opening round. Achonwa scored four points and grabbed four rebounds in nine minutes off the bench, while Peters did not see any game action. TREY MANCINI HOMERS IN SECOND MLB AT-BAT It's almost impossible to script a better professional debut. Former Notre Dame star and cur- rent Baltimore Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini launched a home run over the left field wall on a 1-1 pitch in his second major league at-bat. Mancini — who played for the Irish from 2011-13 — is one of Baltimore's top prospects. He was added to the major league team after Steve Pearce was placed on the disabled list. "It's a dream come true," Mancini told The Baltimore Sun before Sun- day's game at Camden Yards. "It's the reason I've been playing baseball since I was 4 years old, to one day make the major leagues. "It hasn't all really hit me yet be- cause it all happened really fast. I found out yesterday evening, but I'm just trying to take it all in right now." Mancini hit .359 to win the Eastern League batting title at Double-A Bowie in 2015, and followed that up by hit- ting .282 with 20 home runs and 26 doubles in 142 games between Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk this season. The native of Winter Haven, Fla., had his mother, Beth, in the crowd cel- ebrating the home run. Mancini be- came the third player in Orioles history to homer in his major league debut. Mancini's teammates then prod- ded him to the top step of the dugout as he received a curtain call. "I didn't really know the etiquette there," Mancini said. "But a couple of them there smiling that I was even asking [what to do], so I went right up after that and did the curtain call." The 24-year-old Mancini also im- pressed his manager. "You take that in," Orioles skip- per Buck Showalter told reporters. "Lucky to see him [do that]. Hope- fully, it's going to be the first of a lot of good moments for the young man. It was a big night for him and his family and for the team, too. They've all been there at some point. Showed himself well. Proud of him. That was a big moment for him." ✦ Kyle Rudolph Achieves A First For The Vikings Rudolph scored the first-ever touchdown for Minnesota in its brand-new U.S. Bank Stadium on an eight- yard reception in a 17-14 win over Green Bay Sept. 18. PHOTO COURTESY MINNESOTA VIKINGS

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