Kenny James (AP/Michael Conroy)
A first quarter aerial barrage from Notre Dame’s Brady Quinn allowed the Fighting Irish to score three touchdowns in the first 15 minutes, leading to a 38-3 blow out of the visiting Washington Huskies this afternoon in South Bend.
Quinn, a 6-4 224 pound sophomore from Dublin, Ohio, looked like Joe Montana over the first 30 minutes of the game. He connected on 15 of his first 23 passes for 196 yards and four touchdowns to break the game open early.
Quinn cooled in the second half to finish with 266 passing yards on 17 completions in 32 attempts, but the damage was done.
With 8:59 remaining in the first quarter, Notre Dame took a short field on their second possession after a short Sean Douglas punt. The Irish scored on a broken Husky coverage when Matt Shelton snuck behind Derrick Johnson and got 10-yards open in the end zone. Quinn easily found him for an easy-as-you-please 24-yard score, capping a 45-yard drive in five plays.
The Huskies looked to answer as Paus found Cory Williams on consecutive passes that moved the ball to the Irish 42, but a holding penalty on Ryan Brooks stalled the momentum. Paus had a ball dropped by Anthony Russo and then another drop by Sonny Shackelford, both which would’ve moved the chains. However when Douglas’ perfect punt pinned the Irish back on their own one-yard line, the Huskies looked to be in good shape.
The Irish were held to a three and out, but an error in judgment by Charles Frederick allowed a line drive end-over-end Irish punt to roll 54-yards before being downed.
The home team made the Huskies pay, as Quinn found Shelton again behind the Husky secondary, this time from 27-yards out to put the Irish up 14-0. Matt Fountaine was beaten this time, as safety help from Dashon Goldson was late and non-existent from CJ Wallace, who had blitzed on the play.
Washington fully imploded on their next drive, as Kenny James coughed up the ball on the Husky 18, and Tyrone Laws recovered.
Quinn play-actioned the Husky defense to the left while he rolled out right. Linebacker Scott White stayed home, but TE Anthony Fasano easily drifted behind him, where there was no one in the Husky secondary. Fasano hauled in Quinn’s floater for another gift touchdown, and Notre Dame led 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Former Husky offensive coordinator Bill Diedrick looked like a genius, as everyone expected the Irish to run as UCLA did last week, but Quinn shredded the Husky secondary for 147 yards and three scores in the first 15 minutes, which essentially decided the game.
Husky starter Casey Paus, from nearby New Lenox, Illinois, found it tough going against the Notre Dame defense that was geared to shut down the run. Paus completed 10 of 26 for 130 yards with no touchdowns in his half of action. He was benched after two quarters.
The Huskies avoided the shutout when Michael Braunstein connected on a 26-yard field goal at the 11:53 mark of the second quarter.
Notre Dame answered the Husky field goal immediately. With the help of two Husky defensive penalties, the Irish scored on the identical play that scored their third touchdown, this time Fasano victimizing safety CJ Wallace and White for a 15 yard score that ballooned the score to 28-3.
On the play, Quinn tied the ND school record for touchdown throws in a game, his fourth, with 9:14 to play IN THE SECOND QUARTER.
A DJ Fitzpatrick field goal made the half-time score 31-3.
With Paus ineffective and the ground game ground to a halt, Gilbertson attempted to put a spark in the offense and inserted freshman Carl Bonnell at quarterback. He teamed with fullback James Sims to provide a bit more speed for the Irish to deal with. He found the going just as tough as Paus did, throwing an interception on his second drive.
Bonnell looked the best on his third drive, throwing strikes to Bobby Whithorne, Sonny Shackelford, and back to back runs that put the ball on the Irish three yard line as the third quarter drew to a close.
Washington’s drive faltered, however. After a nice 8-yard Bonnell keeper put the ball on the Irish three, a motion penalty killed the momentum. The drive would up in a field goal attempt that never was, as the snap never got back cleanly to Casey Paus, and the Irish took over.
71 yards and three plays later, Darius Walker ran through a tired Husky defense for a 17 yard touchdown, breaking two arm tackles en route. The big play that set up the Walker run came when Rhema McKnight ran by Derrick Johnson to haul in a 53 yard run and pass connection.
Kenny James put the ball on the ground again, courtesy of a strip by Dwight Ellick. Notre Dame recovered the fumble and took over on their 45, and coach Tyrone Willingham opened the flood gates and put in his deep reserves to finish the game.
Injuries: WR Corey Williams suffered an injury to his wrist when he attempted to brace himself after chasing down a pass near the back of the end zone. He smacked into the brick, taking the brunt of the fall on his wrist. It will require surgery and he may be done for the year. FB Zach Tuiasosopo suffered a broken leg and will likely also be gone for the season. WR Charles Frederick pulled a hamstring and was not able to shake it, sitting out most of the second half. FS Jimmy Newell had a sore leg from the UCLA game last week and was only available for spot duty. He was noticeably hobbled.