Rutgers drops Pinstripe Bowl 29-16 to Notre Dame

The plan for Rutgers seemed to be playing out well. Keep Notre

Dame out of the end zone, stay close heading into the fourth

quarter and make a few plays to steal a victory in the Pinstripe

Bowl.

The Scarlet Knights never did make those few plays.

Rutgers managed only 237 yards of offense and allowed far too

many long drives to the Fighting Irish, who pulled away in the

fourth quarter for a 29-16 victory Saturday.

”We thought we played good red zone defense and we could make

them kick a few field goals and attempt some field goals, maybe we

could block one and then win the game in the fourth quarter,”

Scarlet Knights coach Kyle Flood said. ”We were kind of poised to

do that.”

Rutgers (6-7) heads to the Big Ten next year, leaving the

American Athletic Conference (the former Big East) behind for much

tougher competition. The Scarlet Knights will enter their new

league coming off their first losing season since 2010 and just the

second in the last nine years. Flood will need to show immediate

improvement.

It’ll help if he can find a quarterback.

Senior Chas Dodd, who became the starter late in the season

because of Gary Nova’s struggles, finished with 156 yards passing

against Notre Dame, including a touchdown to star receiver Brandon

Coleman.

”What we saw with their defense was just what we knew we would

see,” Dodd said. ”We had a game plan ready to attack it. We just

weren’t able to because of our execution.”

Coleman is off to the NFL, having decided to skip his senior

season.

”We gave our best effort. It may not look like it on the

scoreboard but this team gave our all and I want people to remember

that.” Coleman.

Tommy Rees passed for 319 yards in his final college game and

Kyle Brindza kicked five field goals for Notre Dame.

The Fighting Irish (9-4) finished their follow-up season to last

year’s run to the national championship game a long way from the

BCS against a two-touchdown underdog trying to avoid a losing

record.

Notre Dame’s play was less than inspired – Kelly said about a

dozen players were fighting a flu bug – but the win prevented the

Irish from finishing with eight victories for the third time in his

four seasons.

”A good season that could have been a great season,” coach

Brian Kelly said.

Notre Dame’s TJ Jones scored on an 8-yard run in the first

quarter and Coleman answered with a 14-yard touchdown catch soon

after. Tarean Folston’s 3-yard touchdown run with 3:38 in the

fourth made it 26-16 and finally gave the Irish a comfortable

lead.

On the slick turf at Yankee Stadium, the Pinstripe Bowl turned

into a field-goal kicking contest. Brindza was 5 for 6. Kyle

Federico made 3 of 3 for the Scarlet Knights.

The Irish dominated in yards (494-237) and time of possession

(38:49) but bogged down in the red zone repeatedly.

Rees closed a college career packed with both memorable and

forgettable moments with a solid performance, going 27 for 47 with

no interceptions.

”I loved the way we were able to stay calm and stay within our

offense and continue to kind of monotonously move the ball down the

field,” Rees said.

Notre Dame left tackle Zack Martin capped his excellent college

career by being named game MVP.

Twice Notre Dame put together double-digit play drives that

ended in short field goals for Brindza. A 15-play, 90-yard march

that started in the third quarter and ended in the fourth with

Brindza’s 25-yarder made it 19-13 Notre Dame with 12:46 left.

Brindza’s third field goal, a 26-yarder with 6:03 left in the

third quarter, gave Notre Dame a 16-13 lead – after the Irish

caught a break. Brindza had missed from 36 yards but Rutgers was

flagged for running into the kicker to give him a second, easier,

try.

The teams played to a 13-13 tie in first half that wasn’t nearly

as crisp and pleasant and as the weather.

Brindza kicked a couple of field goals, one after an

interception by Kendall Moore at the Rutgers’ 22.

Federico made two field goals for Rutgers, one after the Scarlet

Knights recovered a muffed punt by Jones at the Notre Dame 21.

Jones atoned for the turnover with a touchdown run on a fly

sweep that gave Notre Dame a 10-3 lead in the first quarter.

Rutgers came right back to tie with Dodd going deep to Coleman

for 51 yards, and then finding him for a TD with 1:51 left in the

first quarter.