Golson’s 5 TDs lift Irish in opener

Published 11:45 am Sunday, August 31, 2014

Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson scores one of his five touchdowns against Rice Saturday. (Leader photo/KELLY SWEENEY)

Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson scores one of his five touchdowns against Rice Saturday. (Leader photo/KELLY SWEENEY)

NOTRE DAME — Throughout a preseason that had been marred in potential distractions such as the alleged further shirking of tradition by switching the playing surface of Notre Dame Stadium from grass-to-turf; the questioning of personal loyalties and quality of play surrounding the return of a team leader fresh off of a season-long suspension; and the dark cloud of yet another “honor code” violation investigation shrouding the playing status of five players (three of which whom are starters), in a fog of doubt; it could’ve been easy, and somewhat understandable, for coach Brian Kelly and Notre Dame to stumble right out of the gate Saturday.

Then again, Kelly has never been one for backing down from a challenging set of circumstances.

With his team’s 48-17 drubbing of the Rice Owls, Kelly showcased his coaching acumen by marshalling his players’ talent, intelligence and attention to detail to completely dismantle a talented team that won nine games just a season ago.

Though the gray skies above Notre Dame Stadium never offered even a peep of thunder or flash of lightning; there was plenty of electricity pulsating throughout the Irish atmosphere Saturday afternoon.

The Fighting Irish faithful were happier-than-ever to welcome back quarterback Everett Golson to the Irish fold, as the superconducting senior sparked his team to a 576 yard offensive output, while personally accounting for five of ND’s six touchdowns on the day.

“Everett Golson was electric,” Kelly said. “He kept his eyes down field. He knew when to run. He knew when to throw it.”

Golson was 14-of-22 passing for 295 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 41 yards on 12 carries, and three more touchdowns. Both of his passing touchdowns came on plays that covered more than 50 yards. His 75 yard strike to Will Fuller served as the longest passing play for the Irish since 2010.

By all accounts, Golson’s return to action was a major success.

Golson said it was the type of comeback he had dreamed of while serving out his suspension.

“That’s what inspired me through all the training and all the days of me just working out by myself. I think that’s what helped me get through it,” he said. “I really wanted to get back out there and show the world what I’ve learned from my experiences. I still have a ton of stuff to work on, but I’ll get better.”

Merely the thought of Golson elevating his game to another level should both excite the Irish fan base in grandiose fashion, and strike fear in the opposing coaches left on ND’s schedule.

The only question now is will Golson’s improvements be a permanent fixture of his game; or a fleeting moment realized in the face of a lackluster opponent?

The Irish won’t have to wait long to figure that one out.

In a much anticipated rivalry game, Brady Hoke and the Michigan Wolverines will come to South Bend Saturday to have one final showdown with their long-time regional adversaries.

The game will kick off at 7:30 under the lights at ND Stadium.


Notre Dame        14            14            10            10 — 48

Rice                          7               3             0              7 — 17

ND – Everett Golson 11 run (Kyle Brindza kick)

RICE – Driphus Jackson 26 pass to Zach Wright (James Hairston kick)

ND – Golson 75 pass to Will Fuller (Brindza kick)

RICE – Hairston 33 field goal

ND – Golson 14 run (Brindza kick)

ND – Golson 53 pass to C.J. Prosise (Brindza kick)

ND – Brindza 36 field goal

ND – Golson 4 run (Brindza kick)

ND – Brindza 29 yard field goal

RICE –Tyler Stehling 53 yard pass to James Mayden (Hairston kick)

ND – Greg Bryant 17 run (Brindza kick)