Rees leads Notre Dame to 45-10 win over Air Force
For the second straight week, Tommy Rees found himself on the
This time, though, it wasn’t because of a strained neck, but
rather a stellar showing.
Rees was given the fourth quarter off after throwing a
career-high five touchdown passes to help Notre Dame rout Air Force
45-10 on Saturday.
The senior was on target all day, completing 17 of 22 passes for
284 yards as the Fighting Irish (6-2) won their third straight.
Rees now has 54 career TD passes and moves past Ron Powlus for
third place in team history.
”I felt really good out there,” Rees said.
That’s quite a contrast from last week when Rees left the game
with a neck ailment in the third quarter of a win over USC. Rees
was solid all week in practice and sensational on Saturday as he
picked apart the secondary of the Falcons (1-7), who dropped their
seventh straight game.
The resourceful Rees spread the ball around as he tossed TD
strikes to Corey Robinson, the son of former NBA star David
Robinson, William Fuller, Ben Koyack, TJ Jones and Chris Brown. It
was the first time in school history the Irish have had five
different receivers catch a TD pass.
”Tommy was great tonight,” Jones said. ”He showcased why we
have some much faith in him. He’s able to make those plays on a
Rees became the fourth Notre Dame quarterback to throw 50 or
more TDs, joining Powlus (52), Jimmy Clausen (60) and Brady Quinn
Even more, this was the 20th win of Rees’ career, tying him with
Joe Theismann and John Lujack for ninth most for a starting QB in
Notre Dame history.
He just shrugged when asked about being linked with an array of
former standout Notre Dame quarterbacks.
”I’m not too in tune with all that stuff,” Rees said. ”I’m
sure when my career is over that I’ll look back and be appreciative
of some of the things I was able to do. Right now, the focus is
week in and week out finding a way to be the best quarterback for
this team and try to win games.”
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was certainly impressed.
”When we needed a play, he was able to make it,” Kelly
Nate Romine started for Karson Roberts at quarterback for the
Falcons, becoming the fourth different signal caller the team has
used this season. Romine was fourth-string out of fall camp, but
moved up the depth chart due to injuries and an academic
ineligibility. Roberts suffered a concussion two weeks ago against
San Diego State, but recently returned to practice. He entered the
game in the fourth quarter in relief of Romine.
At times, Romine effectively ran the triple-option attack of Air
Force, gashing Notre Dame’s defense for big gains. But the Falcons
fumbled the ball away twice inside Notre Dame territory, thwarting
promising drives with the game still close.
”When you make mistakes against really good teams, they’re
magnified even more,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said.
The loss ended any chance of Air Force becoming bowl eligible
for a seventh straight season under Calhoun.
Air Force scored first when Colton Huntsman took a pitch from
Romine and scrambled in from 10 yards out. Notre Dame answered
right back, with Rees finding Robinson and then Fuller to give the
Irish a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. It was the first career TD
reception for both Robinson and Fuller.
Right before halftime, the Falcons had a chance to slice into
the lead, but Anthony LaCoste fumbled inside the red zone and
KeiVarae Russell recovered the ball to preserve a 24-10 lead.
On the opening drive to start the second half, Romine led the
Falcons down the field only to lose the ball as he scrambled away
from pressure. Jaylon Smith scooped it up and raced 62 yards for
what appeared to be a score, but officials ruled it an incomplete
pass and blew the play dead. After a brief review, the call was
reversed to a fumble, though, with Notre Dame getting the ball at
It didn’t take long for Rees to capitalize as he found Jones for
his fourth TD of the game, matching the total he had against Air
Force on Oct. 8, 2011, and again on Oct. 30, 2010, versus
He set a new personal-best on the next drive with a short pass
”We had a good game plan and I was excited about the
opportunity to execute it,” Rees said. ”This talks more about the
kind of guys we have on the outside. We have a lot of players who
can go out there and make plays for us.”