A second straight dominating performance gave Notre Dame an easy 27-3 victory over Army Saturday night in the first football game played at the new Yankee Stadium. Coming off their most impressive victory last week against Utah, the Irish thoroughly outplayed the Black Knights to earn their sixth win of the season and become bowl eligible.
Tommy Rees led the way with 213 yards passing with a touchdown and an interception. Tyler Eifert broke out with a big game catching four passes for 77 yards and a score to help Notre Dame earn the win.
The game started out a little shaky for the Irish. After taking the opening kickoff, ND looked good mixing the pass and the run to move from thier own 26 to the Army five in eight plays, but on second-and-goal Rees tried to force a pass to Michael Floyd in the endzone and had it picked off. Army used the mistake to slash through the Notre Dame defense converting four third downs to get to a goal-to-go situation. The defense finally stiffened though, and the Cadets settled for a 20-yard field goal by Alex Carleton to take the early 3-0 lead.
That would be just about it, however, for Army as the Irish began to take over on their next drive. Rees hit Floyd for 33 yards to get the Irish into Army territory where David Ruffer connected on a 47-yard field goal three plays later to tie the game.
After a three-and-out by Army, the Irish took over at the Black Knights 40 and quickly moved to the endzone. Rees hit Eifert for a 35-yard gain down to the one and then used Robert Hughes on the next play to punch it in and give the Irish their first lead 10-3. Another Army punt set up Notre Dame once again. Rees hit Floyd for a 23-yard completion to get the Irish into Army territory again. One play later, Rees found Eifert for a 31-yard touchdown to lift Notre Dame to a 17-3 lead at half.
The second half began much better for Notre Dame as on the third play from scrimmage Trent Steelman’s pass was picked off by Darrin Walls who returned it 42 yards for the score to seize control of the game 24-3. Later in the third, Steelman threw his second interception as Brian Smith picked him off to set up Notre Dame on the Army side again. This time, the Irish would move to the 19 and extend their lead to 27-3 with a 39-yard field goal from Ruffer.
The rest of the game became a punting contest with both defenses clamping down on the other team’s offense finally wrapping up when Nate Montana took a knee to give the Irish the big 27-3 win.
The victory now gives Notre Dame six wins and a chance to play in a bowl game. They will try for seven wins and a guaranteed bowl spot next week when they close out the regular season on the road against arch-rival USC.