|Jimmy Clausen passed for a Notre Dame bowl-record 406 yards in the rout of Hawaii. (Marco Garcia/Associated Press)|
Notre Dame ends bowl frustration
HONOLULU - Jimmy Clausen set Notre Dame bowl record with 406 yards passing and five touchdowns to help the Irish win a postseason game for the first time in 15 years, 49-21, over Hawaii last night in the Hawaii Bowl.
Golden Tate had six catches for 177 yards and three touchdowns, also Notre Dame bowl records, including a 69-yarder that sparked a 28-point outburst for the Fighting Irish (7-6), who ended their NCAA-record nine-game bowl losing streak in dramatic fashion.
With coach Charlie Weis calling the plays from the coaches box for the first time because of knee problems that require him to walk with crutches, the Irish were unstoppable.
The offense scored at will. The blitzing defense shut down Hawaii's run-and-shoot. And the special teams wasn't too shabby, either.
After the Warriors (7-7) scored to end Notre Dame's 28-point run, Armando Allen returned a kickoff 96 yards for a score. Allen also caught an 18-yard TD pass on the Irish's opening drive of the second half.
Notre Dame's victory was its first in the postseason since it beat Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl to end the 1993 season. The Irish also avoided consecutive losing seasons.
Clausen was confident and sharp, completing 22 of 26 passes. He racked up 300 yards passing and three TDs by halftime alone, sending the crowd home early. The sophomore broke Brady Quinn's postseason school record of 286 yards passing set against Ohio State in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl.
With Notre Dame ahead, 14-7, Clausen broke open the game by connecting with Tate on a 69-yard TD play, the Irish's longest play from scrimmage of the season.
Clausen faked a handoff, turned, and heaved it to Tate, who had blown past cornerback Calvin Roberts along the left sideline. With the catch, Tate became the fifth Irish receiver to break 1,000 yards receiving in a season.
The Irish made it 28-7 with a second left in the first half on an 18-yard hookup between Clausen and Tate on third and goal. Hawaii challenged the play, but replays showed Tate got his left foot down before stepping out.
Tate followed it up in the third quarter with a 40-yard TD reception that pushed the lead to 42-7 and gave the Warriors flashbacks of the pounding they received from Georgia in the Sugar Bowl to end last season. Clausen and Tate shared the MVP award.
Hawaii, trying for its fourth straight Hawaii Bowl victory, couldn't get much going. Quarterback Greg Alexander was kept off balance and on the run by the Irish defense, which had eight sacks and forced two turnovers.
The Warriors, who didn't call a running play until 6 minutes left in the first half, were held to 32 yards rushing.
Alexander was 23 of 39 for 261 yards, throwing 10- and 21-yard TD passes to Aaron Bain. Bain had a career-best eight receptions for 109 yards.
Hawaii fans had little to cheer about. One of the biggest roars came when the Notre Dame leprechaun's flagstick snapped in half as he charged out to the field.