Jonas Gray ran for a career-high 136 yards and two touchdowns, and Notre Dame made itself right at home against skidding Maryland (2-8) in a 45-21 victory Saturday night.
Notre Dame has made a habit of playing one "home" game a year at a neutral site. Although this one was held at a stadium only 12 miles from the Maryland campus, both end zones read NOTRE DAME and most fans in the crowd of 70,251 at FedEx Field were pulling for the Irish.
"It was really loud coming in," Irish coach Brian Kelly said. " It was an enjoyable atmosphere. We really loved being here. I know our players were excited when they got out on the field and heard the crowd and the action that was in the stadium. Our guys were excited, you could tell that."
After stopping the Terps on its opening drive, Notre Dame turned up the pace--led by Gray to score on the game's opening drive. Gray would also scoring a touchdown on 4th and goal with 30 seconds left in the half as the Irish went into the break up 24-7.
"It was great," Gray said after the game. "The guys in front did a great job blocking. The receivers did a great job blocking up field. Like I always do, I did the rest with my legs."
Gray now has 11 touchdowns on the season, the most for an Irish back since Autry Denson had 15 in 1998. it's a remarkable turnaround for Gray who began the season with a fumble inside the 5-yard line against South Florida on the opening drive of the season.
"Jonas Gray was what we have all been talking about. He's been a consistent performer for us, and he's really emerged as a big time back," Kelly explained.
Tommy Rees completed 30 of 38 passes for 296 yards and two scores for the Fighting Irish (7-3), who have won three straight and seven of eight. Rees went 14 for 15 for 142 yards after halftime.
"We’ve been running the ball so well, and it’s good to see the passing game get back up there," Rees said. "I think it is just hats off to everyone on the offensive side, from the coaches on down to the players.”
Notre Dame returns home home next Saturday to host Boston College in the final game at Notre Dame Stadium this season. Kickoff is set for 4pm. Countdown to Kickoff gets you started at 3pm on channel 16.
Boston College won for just the 3rd time this season Saturday over NC State.