The Fighting Irish finally got the first half they've been looking for.
Outscored 79-23 in the opening half of its first three games, No. 23 Notre Dame scored on its first three possessions, while Jarious Jackson ran for 100 yards and threw for 163 more, as the Irish beat Stanford 35-17 on Saturday.
Notre Dame's previous slow starts paralleled Jackson's early troubles. He came into the game completing just 39.5 percent of his first-half passes and averaging 5.6 yards on the ground. But he was 6-of-8 to open the game and ran for 71 yards as Notre Dame (3-1) jumped out to a 28-3 lead, its first halftime lead of the season.
This time, Jackson and the Irish dominated from the start, taking the opening kickoff and going 65 yards in eight plays, capped off by Jackson's 22-yard scoring run. It was Notre Dame's first, first-half lead of the season and the only time they've scored on their opening drive.
The Irish had been averaging just 157.7 yards of offense in the first half, and the defense had been giving up 273.3 yards. But Notre Dame rolled up 270 first-half yards, including 199 on the ground, while holding Stanford to 115.
The Cardinal, playing without wide receiver Troy Walters for most of the game, couldn't capitalize on the few Notre Dame mistakes. Their first three drives inside the Notre Dame 20 netted only a Kevin Miller 25-yard-field goal with 2:49 left in the first quarter.
| Notre Dame quarterback Jarious Jackson (7) and teammate Malcolm Johnson (6) celebrate Jackson's 23-yard touchdown run in the first quarter (AP) |
Stanford got its best opening field position of the day after Dale Davis returned the second-half kickoff to the 35 and Ty Goode brought him down by his face mask. Stanford was held to three plays and then downed the punt at the one-yard line before Jackson took over.
He plunged up the middle for two yards to give Notre Dame a little room, and the Irish churned out 99 yards on 15 plays over the next 7:10. Jackson ran in from five yards out to put Notre Dame up 35-3 with 6:21 left in the quarter.
Stanford scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to pull within 35-17. Todd Husak hit Russell Stewart for a five-yard touchdown pass, and his backup Randy Fasani ran it in from 1-yard out with 1:07 left.
But those were the only Stanford offensive highlights of the day. An offense that had been averaging 402 yards managed just 224 through the first three quarters before the two late touchdowns against a mix of backups and starters.
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