College football: Tommy Rees goes out in style as Irish beat BYU in season finale
By LaMond Pope firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-2691 November 23, 2013 11:28PM
Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees encourages the students in the final seconds of the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame won 23-13. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)
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Updated: November 24, 2013 12:09AM
SOUTH BEND — Tommy Rees received a loud ovation during the pregame senior day introductions.
And the senior quarterback heard some chants of “Tommy” in the final seconds of Saturday’s game against BYU.
In between, the Irish handled the emotions of senior day and BYU on the way to a 23-13 victory in front of 80,795 fans at Notre Dame Stadium.
“We really focused on understanding that it’s an emotional day, but we needed to play Notre Dame football: Enthusiastic and physical, and I thought we did that (Saturday),” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said.
Rees played a role in a balanced offensive attack.
He had 235 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception.
“I thought he played well,” Kelly said. “You never want to throw an interception down in the red zone. He had an opportunity, obviously, to get the ball out quicker. But he did some good things for us.”
Rees heard a portion of the crowd chant his name while taking a knee as the clock expired.
“That was a very special moment,” Rees said. “We’ve been through a lot, the entire senior class. Not only on the team, but everybody here. They could have chanted anyone’s name. It was the whole senior class effort. That was a memory I’ll definitely hold very closely for a long time.
“…“It was hard not to get chocked up at a moment like that. I’m so proud of this whole team and this senior class and what we were able to accomplish.”
Receiver DaVaris Daniels was his top target. He caught six passes for 107 yards and one touchdown. Cam McDaniel rushed for 117 yards. Notre Dame (8-3) had 235 rushing yards.
Special teams also provided a lift. Kicker Kyle Brindza made three field goals, including a 51-yarder with 6:53 remaining to give Notre Dame the 23-13 lead.
BYU (7-4) had first-and-goal from Notre Dame’s 6 in the ensuing drive.
Two incomplete passes and a 2-yard run followed.
“We had that feeling of no touchdowns,” said senior linebacker Dan Fox, who led the team with nine tackles. “Our backs are against the wall. We’ll see what happens if they kick it. Get up and get our hands up and see what happens.”
BYU attempted a field goal, but Jarron Jones blocked the kick with 4:15 remaining.
“It was just getting a push and reaching my arms up as high as possible,” Jones said.
BYU got the ball one more time, but its final drive stalled at Notre Dame’s 38. The Irish then ran out the clock to give the seniors one final victory at Notre Dame Stadium.
“This is the way we’ve got to play football,” Kelly said. “This is Notre Dame football. This is the way we need to play. This is what we’re capable of playing. It’s a much more physical brand of football that we are capable of playing, and quite frankly, our team did that and they responded accordingly.”