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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The unluck of the Irish

The 0-3 Fighting Irish of Notre Dame forgot one thing they desperately needed coming into the game Saturday – their luck. The Texas A&M football team had all the luck it needed, and it culminated on one play.
The Aggies faced fourth and one on their own 37-yard line, and lined up in a goal-line formation and looked to gain one yard through the middle of the Notre Dame defensive line, where they had success on previous short-yardage plays. The center-to-quarterback exchange was fumbled, but lucky for the Aggies. Redshirt freshman Keith Joseph picked up the ball and ran around the right side, gaining three yards and giving the Aggies the first down.
The Irish saw more situations like this fourth-down play, including passes being intercepted after being tipped.
When luck was not involved, however, A&M simply dominated by controlling the game from the start, and handed the Irish their third loss of the season, 24-3.
The Aggie offense found their groove early, marching down the field and taking an early 7-0 lead. During the 10-play, 76-yard drive, the Aggies faced third down and four from their own 30-yard line.
Junior quarterback Mark Farris drew a Notre Dame defensive lineman offsides, giving the Aggies the first down and allowing them to continue the drive. Highlighting the drive was freshman runningback Derek Farmer, who carried the ball five times for 46 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown romp through the middle of the Irish defense.
“When the bell rings, I wanted to come out swinging,” said A&M football head coach R.C. Slocum. “It was very important for us to get off to a good start.”
The Irish mounted an attempt to answer the Aggies’ opening drive, getting good field position from junior Julius Jones’ 43-yard kickoff return. The Irish covered 43 yards, but came to a stop when sophomore quarterback Carlyle Holiday’s third-down pass was intercepted in the endzone by sophomore cornerback Sean Weston.
The Aggie offense picked up where they left off in the opening drive, going 80 yards in only three plays to take a 14-0 lead. Freshman wide receiver Terrence Murphy came down with a 45-yard pass from Farris, setting the Aggies up at the Notre Dame 22-yard line.
On the next play, Farris pitched the ball to sophomore runningback Oschlor Flemming, who ran around the right side, paused just short of the line of scrimmage, and heaved a pass back across the field.
Waiting on the crossfield pass was Farris, who slipped into the open field. Farris raced 22 yards for a touchdown, giving the Aggies a solid 14-point lead.
“I think every team has that play in their playbook,” Farris said. “When I
saw he [Flemming] threw a good ball, I was just hoping to catch it.”
The Aggie offense scored on their third straight possession with more than 10 minutes left in the half, when the Aggies went 32 yards on 11 plays and allowed sophomore Cody Scates to connect on a 29 yard field goal. The Aggies were successful on a third and nine play, as well as converting on a fourth and one to help the Aggies claim a 17-0 lead.
The Irish put points on the board just before the half, when they took over after an A&M punt, its first of the game, with 2:16 left in the half.
Taking over at midfield, Notre Dame was moving in to cut into the A&M lead, converting on a fourth and seven play to keep the drive alive. The Aggie defense stiffened and forced the Irish to settle for a 47-yard Nicholas Setta field goal.
Despite cutting the lead to 17-3, the Irish lost Holiday, who was hit just as he threw the ball. Holiday, a San Antonio native, suffered a sprained neck and did not return.
After the Aggie defense forced another three-and-out series, A&M mounted an impressive drive, but got nothing out of it. Taking the ball at their own 27-yard line, the Aggies slowly moved down the field, covering 60 yards on 18 plays and running 7:37 seconds off the clock, time the Irish desperately needed.
The Aggies converted on another fourth-down play, but had to attempt a field goal on the next set of downs. Scates’ 30-yard attempt was wide left, and the Irish took over at their own 20.
With the Aggies holding the lead in the fourth quarter, they finished off the Irish just two minutes into the quarter.
The Irish faced fourth down and six, and junior punter Joey Hildbold had been
booming the ball the entire afternoon. Senior free safety Jay Brooks, known as “Big Play Jay” because of his special teams play, found an opening up the middle and got a hand on the Hildbold punt. The ball then bounced directly into the hands of freshman linebacker Randall Webb, who returned the ball 13 yards into the endzone to give the Aggies a 24-3 lead.
“The block punt is when I think the can hit rock bottom,” said Notre Dame head coach Bob Davie. “I am not sure where we are at right now. We have a lot of games left and we are not going to quit.”
The Aggie defense had shut down the Irish they entire afternoon and stepped up another notch forcing Notre Dame to punt on its next three possessions.
“That is what the Wrecking Crew is all about,” said junior linebacker Brian Gamble. “We had to send a message, and I was really pleased with the way we played.”
The Aggie offense ended the day with 310 yards of total offense, including a 100-yard rushing performance by Farmer, making his first start at runningback.
The Aggies will wrap up a three-game homestand against Baylor on Saturday.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
“I don’t think we even scratched the surface of what we are capable of,”
Farris said. “It’s pretty special to be able to come up with your best game
when you have to have it.”

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