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Big East: Irish win moves them closer to BCS berth

©Associated Press
November 24, 2002

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame's offense finally put together a performance to match its dominating defense.

Carlyle Holiday tied a school record with four touchdown passes and threw for 270 yards as the Fighting Irish beat Rutgers 42-0 on Saturday.

"Our offense did a great job of playing the way I think they can," coach Tyrone Willingham said after Notre Dame totaled a season-high 478 yards.

The victory gave Notre Dame its first 10-win season since going 11-1 in 1993. It also gave Tyrone Willingham the most victories by a first-year Irish coach, passing the marks of 9-1 by Ara Parseghian in 1964 and Terry Brennan in 1954.

Willingham took over a 5-6 team and has it on the brink of a BCS berth. A victory at USC on Saturday clinches a spot.

The Irish have struggled at times with Willingham's West Coast offense. But against the Scarlet Knights, the offense had no problems.

"We believed that at some point this season, our offense would show its true potential," Willingham said. "(Saturday), our offense did exactly that."

Holiday threw touchdowns of 38 and 63 yards to Arnaz Battle, who had three catches for 108 yards, and added a 37-yarder to Omar Jenkins and a 26-yarder to Maurice Stovall for his first four-touchdown game, which tied a school record shared by five others.

"We went out with a bang and did what we wanted to accomplish," he said. "It's a big momentum builder. It shows we can put points on the board and throw the ball."

Holiday, who threw three touchdowns all of last season and one through four games this season, has nine in the past six games. He was 6-for-7 in the third for 163 yards and three touchdowns.

Overall, Holiday was 13-for-25 and fell 2 yards shy of the career best set against Navy two weeks ago.

"If Holiday can throw like that and they can run routes like that, they're going to be tough to beat," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said.

The 42 points are the most for the Irish since they scored 45 against Rutgers two years ago. It was Notre Dame's second shutout this season. It opened with 22-0 victory over Maryland.

Ryan Grant scored the other touchdown for the Irish and rushed for 68 yards on 18 carries, giving him 1,001 yards for the season.

He is the seventh Irish running back to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season. Autry Denson was the last with 1,176 in 1998.

Grant alone has rushed for nearly twice as many yards this season as the entire Rutgers team. The Scarlet Knights rushed for 18 yards on 27 carries, giving them 544 for the season. They are on pace for their worst season rushing since running for 620 yards in 1946.

Shane Walton returned an interception 45 yards, his seventh this season, the most by an Irish player since Todd Lyght had eight in 1989.

The pass by Ryan Hart bounced off center Marty Pyszczymuka. Replays showed Walton trapped the ball, but officials did not blow a whistle.

* * *

BC 36, TEMPLE 14: Brandon Brokaw ran for three touchdowns for the visiting Eagles.

The Owls lost four of their last five and finished with four victories for the third consecutive season. It also is the fifth consecutive season Temple failed to win three conference games.

The Eagles scored 10 unanswered points in the second quarter to lead 17-7 at halftime. Derrick Knight's 11-yard run capped a 64-yard drive that included two defensive pass-interference penalties.

Sandro Sciortino made a 43-yard field goal with 6:10 left for a 10-point lead.

He also hit a 32-yarder on the Eagles' first drive of the third quarter and a 37-yarder later in the third to make it 23-7.

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