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  • Irish too much for Navy, easily extend NCAA-record streak

    Oct. 16, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports
    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- There is no secret to Notre Dame's 41-game winning streak against Navy.

    The Fighting Irish are bigger, stronger and faster -- and they showed it on Saturday.

    Ryan Grant ran for 114 yards and two touchdowns, and Notre Dame had little trouble extending its NCAA-record winning streak against the Midshipmen with a 27-9 victory.

    Navy (5-1) came in unbeaten with hopes of finally ending four decades of futility against the Irish. Adding to the optimism for the Midshipmen were their performances against Notre Dame the past two seasons. The Irish needed late-game heroics in both to extend the streak.

    "We remember how close this game has been the last two years," Notre Dame linebacker Mike Goolsby. "That was the thing coach (Greg) Mattison tried to get across to us this week. It doesn't have to be close."

    The defensive line coach was right. Grant and Notre Dame's dominant lines wrapped this one up early for the Irish (5-2).

    Notre Dame needed two possessions to take a 14-0 lead.

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    "It kind of set the tone for the game and gave us confidence," said quarterback Brady Quinn, who was 11-for-20 for 130 yards.

    The Irish went into halftime up 17-0, having allowed Navy's triple-option attack to break midfield at Giants Stadium just once.

    The Midshipmen got their ground game going on the first drive of the second half, marching 81 yards without throwing a pass. But Navy stalled and settled for a field goal to make it 17-3.

    Kyle Eckel finished with 102 yards on 22 rushes for Navy, but playing from behind just doesn't suit the Midshipmen. Navy completed 3 of 6 passes for 44 yards.

    "We'd have to have played mentally perfect to have a chance to win this game, and obviously we didn't do that," said quarterback Aaron Polanco, who was held to 19 yards on 24 carries.

    Navy came in averaging 267 yards rushing, but led by defensive tackles Greg Pauly and Derek Landri, Notre Dame had six sacks and limited the Midshipmen to 216 yards rushing.

    "We heard it all week," Goolsby said. "It's all about discipline."

    Added Pauly, "Everyone just took their assignment and stuck to them."

    Navy's only touchdown came on a late 5-yard run by Frank Divis.

    Notre Dame showed off its version of power football on its first drive of the second half. The Irish went 73 yards on 13 plays, throwing just two short passes. Grant, from nearby Nyack, N.Y., accounted for 64 yards on the drive -- 55 on nine rushes. He skipped into the end zone from a yard out to make it 24-3 late in the third quarter.

    "That score kind of put them on their heels. It was a momentum shift," said Grant, who has been limited by a hamstring injury this season.

    "I feel better than I've felt. It's getting better. This is the most work I've done in a long time," he said.

    Grant carried the ball 20 times for his first 100-yard game in two years.

    Roger Staubach directed the last Navy win over Notre Dame in 1963, his Heisman Trophy year. While there have been a few tight games since, this game was more typical of the series. During the streak, Notre Dame has won 34 times by double digits.

    "It's not like they're beating Southern Cal 41 times in a row," Navy coach Paul Johnson said. "They're beating an academy."

    The next-longest active winning streak between two teams is Nebraska's 36 in a row over Kansas.

    Notre Dame opened the game with an 81-yard drive that couldn't have gone more smoothly. Quinn completed his first two throws for 37 yards and Marcus Wilson, a third-stringer from New York City, scored his first career touchdown on a 33-yard run through a huge opening.

    Notre Dame's second possession went much like the first, with Quinn hooking up with Matt Shelton for 30 yards to the Navy 20 and Grant handling the rest on the ground. The senior tailback went 19 yards off tackle, then bounced to the outside for a 1-yard run that made it 14-0.

    Navy managed only 95 yards in the first half, all on the ground. Notre Dame balanced its attack with 110 on the ground and 116 through the air.

    "It's critically important when you play a team as skilled as they are to limit their options and to try and get ahead of them," Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham said.

    The Fighting Irish added a 47-yard field goal by D.J. Fitzpatrick late in the first half and their annual win over Navy was all but secured.

    AP NEWS
    The Associated Press News Service

    Copyright 2004, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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  • DJRamFan
    Orton helps Purdue end 30-year drought at Notre Dame
    by DJRamFan
    Oct. 2, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports
    SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton accomplished something that Drew Brees, Jim Everett and Mark Hermann never did -- win at Notre Dame.

    Orton threw four touchdown passes, including a 97 yarder to Taylor Stubblefield, to lead the 15th-ranked Boilermakers to a 41-16 victory Saturday. It was Purdue's first win at Notre Dame Stadium since Ara Parseghian's last year as Irish coach in 1974, when the Irish were ranked No. 2.

    Orton was 21-of-31 for 385 yards, third most in his career, to help the Boilermakers (4-0) end a 13-game losing streak at Notre Dame (3-2). Purdue coach Joe Tiller said it might have been Orton's best game.

    "I'm not surprised by what No. 18 can do any more," Tiller said. "He does a great job and our team is following his talent."

    Orton, who has 17 TD passes with no interceptions this season, was asked after the game if he thought his performance might help his Heisman Trophy chances.

    "You guys keep bringing up the Heisman. I don't have a vote on that," he said.

    The Irish certainly were impressed, though.

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    "He was unstoppable," defensive end Justin Tuck said. "A lot of people say he is the leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy. He's got my vote."

    In their last three trips to Notre Dame Stadium, the Boilermakers had come close to beating the Irish but always had a key turnover that cost them. On Saturday, though, the Boilermakers, who have not lost a fumble this year, didn't turn the ball over once against a Notre Dame defense which had forced 16 turnovers in its first four games.

    "I told the coach before the game that if we could get 24 points and no turnovers, we would be in good shape," Orton said. "To get 41 points showed we played outstanding today."

    Tiller said he was more impressed with the win over the Irish than winning at Notre Dame Stadium.

    "I'll be real honest. I don't think too much about winning in this stadium," he said.

    The victory also marked the first time Purdue has won a road game at a traditional powerhouse under Tiller, who is in his eighth season. The Boilermakers have lost six straight at Ohio State, they are 0-3-1 at Penn State and haven't won at Michigan since 1966.

    Orton said he thought too much was made about Purdue's losing streak at Notre Dame.

    "We don't go around thinking about that too much but it's nice for the fans and the program to get a win here," Orton said.

    The Boilermakers also got a big play from Jerome Brooks, who returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown right after Notre Dame had tied the score at 3-3.

    Purdue's defense stepped up...
    -10-04-2004, 01:14 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Vols storm back to defeat Kentucky in SEC title-game tuneup
    by DJRamFan
    Nov. 27, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports
    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer was -- in a word -- relieved.

    With an appearance in the Southeastern Conference title game already wrapped up, the No. 15 Volunteers rallied with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to avoid an embarrassing loss and beat Kentucky 37-31 on Saturday.

    And while a field goal would have given Tennessee the lead in the final minute, the Vols didn't want to risk it after Kentucky had already blocked two kicks.

    Gerald Riggs finally put Tennessee ahead to stay with a 12-yard touchdown run with 38 seconds remaining.

    "Really relieved," Fulmer said. "I love each and every one of these guys, but they are making an old man out of me and the rest of the staff."

    Kentucky (2-9, 1-7) lost its 20th straight game to Tennessee, though the Vols' defense had another lackluster effort in its regular-season finale.

    On a cold rainy day, the Vols (9-2, 7-1) found themselves down 31-22 in the fourth quarter to one of the worst offenses in the country.

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    A trick play helped start the comeback. Rick Clausen tossed the ball to C.J. Fayton, who completed a 53-yard pass to Robert Meachem at the Kentucky 12. Tony Brown scored on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Clausen two plays later.

    Clausen was intercepted on Tennessee's next possession, but Kentucky could not take advantage and had to punt.

    The Vols got the ball back at their 40 with about 4 minutes left and trailing 31-29.

    They marched into field-goal range, but with Kentucky's Lonnell Dewalt having blocked an extra-point kick and a field goal earlier in the game, Tennessee passed up a chance to let the kicker try to win it.

    Dewalt finished the season with seven blocked kicks, a school record.

    Riggs ran straight through the line on third down for the touchdown, and Cedric Houston added another run for the 2-point conversion.

    Tennessee's Corey Campbell intercepted Shane Boyd's pass with 6 seconds left to seal the win.

    "We were able to overcome some of our mistakes in the first half," Kentucky coach Rich Brooks. "In the fourth quarter, the offense went into hibernation."

    The Vols said they believed they would win.

    "It seems like we've been down a lot in the fourth this season so it wasn't too bad. We were confident we could do what we needed to win," Tennessee offensive guard Rob Smith said.

    Clausen, playing for injured freshmen Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer, was 26-of-41 for 349 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Houston had 127 yards rushing on 24 carries, and Meachem had five catches for 145 yards and a touchdown.

    The Vols rolled...
    -11-28-2004, 06:25 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Gophers grind out Music City victory over Alabama
    by DJRamFan
    Dec. 31, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports
    NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Marion Barber III heard all about how Alabama stopped Auburn's vaunted running backs.

    Barber and teammate Laurence Maroney simply thought they were better.

    Barber ran for 187 yards and a touchdown and Maroney added 105 yards to lead Minnesota to a 20-16 victory over Alabama in the Music City Bowl on Friday.

    Barber and Maroney, the only teammates in NCAA history to each rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons, were the only runners to go for more than 100 yards in a game this season against the Crimson Tide, who entered with the nation's second-ranked defense.

    "They're a duo, and they're both going to come at you," Minnesota coach Glen Mason said, grinning. "They must be pretty good, I guess."

    Alabama held Auburn to just 74 yards rushing in the Crimson Tide's final game, but Barber wasn't impressed.

    "I never looked at that," the soft-spoken Barber said. "We just came in more prepared."

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    The Golden Gophers (7-5) ran for 276 yards to overcome three turnovers -- including two by Barber -- on their first three drives. Still, they nearly gave the game away in the fourth quarter.

    Rhys Lloyd, who made field goals from 27 and 24 yards, missed a 24-yard attempt with 5:34 left that would have sealed the victory. Mason admitted he was worried since Minnesota lost games late against Michigan and Iowa.

    "When we missed the field goal that would have put us in pretty good shape, I said, 'Here we go again,'" Mason said. "I know if I'm thinking that, so are our kids, but we fought through."

    On Minnesota's next possession, it was pinned deep in its own end and elected to take a safety to make it 20-16 rather than attempt a punt.

    The decision nearly backfired.

    Alabama's Tyrone Prothro returned the free kick to the Minnesota 48, and four completions by Spencer Pennington got the Crimson Tide to the 15. But Pennington overthrew a Prothro in the end zone on third down and couldn't convert a fourth-and-5 with 1:14 to left, ending the game.

    "That's all you can ask for, a chance to win the game," Pennington said. "Prothro was open, and I threw it a little high."

    Alabama (6-6), making an NCAA-record 52nd bowl appearance, was forced to throw throughout the game with leading rusher Kenneth Darby limited because of an abdominal strain. The Crimson Tide had minus-2 yards rushing in the first half and finished with 21.

    Pennington, who finished 22-of-36 for 243 yards and a touchdown, frequently tried to let receivers make plays using short passes.

    "We didn't execute the way we should have," he said. "We felt...
    -12-31-2004, 03:57 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Stanton totals 414 yards as Michigan State rips No. 19 Minnesota
    by DJRamFan
    Oct. 16, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports
    EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State quarterback Drew Stanton is facing a hefty dinner tab.

    Stanton owes his offensive linemen a meal after setting a school record with 414 yards of total offense in Saturday's 51-17 victory over No. 19 Minnesota.

    Stanton credited the big guys up front for the honor.

    "That's already planned," Stanton said of the upcoming dinner. "I'll get my piggy bank out, because I've got six hungry guys here."

    The win kept bowl hopes alive for the resurgent Spartans (4-3, 3-1 Big Ten). The Gophers (5-2, 2-2) have lost two straight.

    Stanton passed for 308 yards and ran for 102 more. He also had a 4-yard reception.

    Stanton's yardage tops the previous school record of 393 set by quarterback Jeff Smoker against Fresno State in 2001.

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    Michigan State gained 407 yards in the first half, a school record, while taking a 31-10 lead. The Spartans finished with 636 yards of offense.

    "We're putting up a lot of yards, and we've got good balance with the run and the pass," said offensive guard William Whitticker.

    The offense has clicked since Stanton entered the starting lineup four games ago. Stanton, a sophomore, was slowed early in the season because of a lingering injury to his right knee.

    "He has all the confidence in the world, and we have the same in him on the field," center Chris Morris said.

    The offensive production came despite cold, rainy conditions with temperatures in the low 40s at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans are now 9-3 against ranked teams at home since 1998.

    The Spartans rolled up 324 rushing yards. Jehuu Caulcrick had 94 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries for Michigan State.

    Stanton was 20-of-31 with three touchdowns through the air, including two to tight end Eric Knott. Terry Love also caught a touchdown pass. Stanton threw two interceptions.

    Minnesota coach Glen Mason said it was the worst loss he's suffered in his seven-plus years with the Gophers.

    "The big question is why?" Mason said. "I'm really not sure. I don't have the answers and really didn't see it coming."

    Minnesota couldn't get its vaunted running attack untracked, finishing with 102 yards.

    Laurence Maroney had 54 yards on 13 carries for the Gophers. Marion Barber III had 36 yards on eight carries.

    Both Maroney and Barber entered the game among the nation's top 20 rushers. Minnesota entered the game averaging 301 yards rushing per game, third best in the nation behind only Rice and Texas.

    Minnesota quarterback Bryan Cupito was 11-of-33 for 211 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions....
    -10-16-2004, 03:40 PM
  • DJRamFan
    No. 14 Michigan 30, Illinois 19
    by DJRamFan
    Oct. 16, 2004

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) Michael Hart rushed for 234 yards and No. 14 Michigan rallied from a halftime deficit to defeat Illinois 30-19 Saturday, sending the Illini to their 12th consecutive conference loss.

    The Wolverines, who struggled through the air in the first half, turned almost exclusively to a running game after halftime and outscored Illinois 20-2 in the second half.

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    Hart ran for 127 yards and Max Martin added 60 yards rushing in the second half as the Wolverines kept the ball on the ground after two first-half interceptions of Chad Henne led to a 17-10 halftime deficit.

    Michigan threw only nine passes and rushed 39 times after the intermission.

    Michigan (6-1, 4-0 Big Ten) won its fifth straight. The Illini (3-4, 0-4) haven't won in the conference since the last game of the 2002 season.

    The Wolverines held the Illini to 98 yards rushing, while running for 294 themselves. Henne was 14-for-27 for 114 yards and one touchdown.

    Michigan scored the first 10 points of the game, but the Illini jumped ahead in the second quarter, thanks in large part to two long interception returns.

    The Wolverines intercepted Illinois quarterback Jon Beutjer at his own 6 on the first Illini drive of the second half, and Henne found Tyler Ecker from 1 yard out to cut the Illinois lead to 17-16.

    Michigan took the lead for good on its next drive when Henne ran the ball in himself from 2 yards out. A two-point conversion attempt failed, but the Wolverines led 22-17.

    Beutjer finished 20-of-39 for 156 yards, but he threw three interceptions. Pierre Thomas caught a 2-yard touchdown pass from Beutjer, and added a 1-yard TD run.


    AP NEWS
    The Associated Press News Service

    Copyright 2004, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
    -10-16-2004, 03:44 PM
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