Irish defense forces MSU mistakes in win

Published 2:21 am Monday, September 20, 2004

By By ADAM FISHER / Niles Daily Star
EAST LANSING - Against Michigan State on Saturday, Notre Dame picked up where it left off last week versus Michigan. The Irish defense forced turnovers and its offense made big plays in a 31-24 victory.
Michigan State grabbed an early lead two minutes into the game on a blocked punt. The Spartans' Jerramy Scott recovered the loose ball and returned it for a touchdown.
The 7-0 lead would be the only advantage Michigan State would enjoy. After the score, Notre Dame's defense toughen up. Specifically, linebacker Tom Zbikowski stepped up for the Irish.
On Michigan State's next possession, Zbikowski intercepted a pass that led to a 13-yard touchdown drive to tie the score. The drive was capped by Brady Quinn's 1-yard touchdown run, his first rushing score at Notre Dame.
Zbikowski wasn't finished.
With the Spartans driving again in the first quarter, Zbikowski stripped the ball from Michigan State's Jason Teague. The linebacker then scooped up the ball and returned it 75 yards for the go-ahead score.
The score was part of 28 straight points Notre Dame scored spanning the first three quarters to build a 28-7 lead.
In all, the Irish had three interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
While the Spartans put up 24 points and gained 344 yards, 14 of those points came on special teams. In addition to the punt block, Michigan State had a kickoff returned for a touchdown by DeAndra Cobb.
Notre Dame had success on the ground Saturday for the second game in a row after struggling in a season-opening loss at Brigham Young.
The Irish rushed for 173 yards, led by freshman Darius Walker's 98 yards. His performance came on the heels of last week's 115-yard, two-touchdown effort against Michigan.
The Spartans had dominated Notre Dame recently, winning six of the past seven match ups between the two. The victory moves the Irish to 2-1 heading into Saturday's home game against Washington.
Michigan State falls to 1-2 and travels to Indiana to face the Hoosiers Saturday.