Notre Dame wins second straight against USC
By laMond Pope 713-2691 or firstname.lastname@example.org October 19, 2013 11:02PM
Notre Dame wide receiver T.J. Jones celebrates after making a catch for a touchdown during the second quarter of a college football game Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)
On The Web
More coverage from the USC-Notre Dame game.
Updated: November 21, 2013 7:05AM
South Bend — Notre Dame quarterback Andrew Hendrix dropped back for a pass, but the ball slipped out of his hand for a fumble.
The play pretty much summed up the second half of Saturday’s Notre Dame-USC contest.
Both offenses came to a screeching halt, but the Irish did just enough early – and the defense made enough plays late – for a 14-10 victory in front of 80,795 fans at Notre Dame Stadium.
Hendrix entered the game after starting quarterback Tommy Rees suffered a neck strain. The senior quarterback was injured after getting sacked by Lamar Dawson with 9:16 left in the third quarter. He did not return.
“He got hit and they wanted to bring him in for more observations,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “He’s really sore. We’ll know more as we kind of move through the next 24-48 hours.”
Rees completed 14 of 21 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. His 11-yard touchdown to TJ Jones with 1:13 left in the second quarter gave the Irish the lead for good. Notre Dame has won three out of four in the series, but this is the first time the Irish defeated UCS at Notre Dame Stadium since 2001.
Notre Dame won despite the offense’s disappearing act once Rees had to leave. The Irish had 295 yards of total offense, just 47 in the second half.
Hendrix, who has been used as to give Notre Dame a running option at quarterback, was 0 for 4 passing. He had six carries for five yards.
“We’ve got to play better, flat out,” Kelly said. “… He’s got to play better, and we’ll see where we are obviously in the next 24 to 48 hours when we get a full eval on Tommy.”
USC’s offense also sputtered. The Trojans had 330 yards of total offense (121 in the second half). USC played without leading rusher Tre Madden. Star wide receiver Marqise Lee left the game after halftime because of a left knee injury.
Penalties also crushed USC. The Trojans had 11 penalties for 95 yards.
“That’s a good (defensive) front,” USC coach Ed Orgeron said of Notre Dame. “We knew it was a good front coming in, a lot of pressure, and we just seemed that we couldn’t get things going.”
Both teams were in a groove offensively in the first half. Silas Redd had a 1-yard touchdown for the Trojans (he finished with 112 rushing yards) Rees threw a 7-yard touchdown to Troy Niklas to tie the game at 7. Jones made an acrobatic catch for his 11-yard touchdown for the game’s final points.
“I was fighting him downfield, was fighting him hands off, hands off, last second, you just turn, make a contested catch,” Jones said.
The second half became part defensive slugfest and part offensive offenses.
Stephon Tuitt led Notre Dame’s defensive effort with two sacks.
“They couldn’t handle him today,” Kelly said. “If you’re wanting to talk about a defensive lineman that as dominating, you could throw that word out there. He was a force out there.”
USC had a couple of late scoring chances, but came up empty. First, the Trojans took over at Notre Dame’s 34 with 6:27 to go after recovering a Cam McDaniel fumble. Tuitt sacked Cody Kessler on fourth down. The Trojans had a final shot with 1:35 remaining and eventually reached Notre Dame’s 36. A false start and two incomplete passes ended the possession, giving the latest chapter of the storied series to the Irish.
“Whether it’s here or on the road,” Kelly said. “it’s important to beat your rival.”