|Despite QB Tommy Rees' late-game heroics in Saturday's win over Purdue, Irish coach Brian Kelly said Everett Golson will remain the starter at quarterback.(US Presswire)|
Kelly planned to use junior QB Andrew Hendrix in a long-term situation and fellow junior Tommy Rees in a closer's role for his late-game experience. With 2:12 left and the game tied at 17, Rees entered to a chorus of boos at Notre Dame Stadium. Minutes later, the boos turned to cheers as Rees led the Irish 55 yards for a game-winning 27-yard field goal by Kyle Brindza to beat Purdue 20-17.
“I was just thinking, 'We've got to win this game,' I wasn't caught up in the whole moment,” Rees told NBC. “We just had to put together a drive to get into field-goal range or get a touchdown. (We just) had to find a way to win this game and not let it get into overtime.”
Rees, a junior, was suspended for the opener after he pleaded guilty in July to misdemeanor resisting law enforcement and misdemeanor illegal consumption of alcohol by a minor. Rees, who started 16 games for Notre Dame from 2010-2011, received few snaps in preseason camp because of the suspension.
Kelly quickly diffused any speculation of a quarterback controversy. The third-year coach said Golson hurt his hand on a fumble with 3:24 left. Golson will start next week at Michigan State, Kelly said.
After Golson's exit, the Boilermakers tied the game at 17 on a 15-yard touchdown from WR Antavian Edson on a fourth-and-10. Edson beat a Notre Dame linebacker on a double-move across the middle.
“He had trouble gripping the ball, he probably still could have gone,” said Kelly of Golson. “I just felt that Tommy could manage our two-minute, and he did a great job.”
Golson was 21 of 31 for 289 yards and a touchdown. The sophomore added a 3-yard touchdown run in the second quarterback when he dove past three defenders and snuck inside the pylon.
It was a gutty win for an Irish team that lost seven significant players during portions of the game, including two captains. Kelly said none of the injuries is serious.
All-American TE Tyler Eifert left the game in the second half with a slight concussion. Eifert finished with four catches for 98 yards. DE Kapron Lewis-Moore (calf), S Jamoris Slaughter (shoulder), LB Ishaq Williams (elbow) and K Nick Tausch (groin) also suffered injuries.
“The story for me as the head coach is our mantra is next man up,” Kelly said. “It's a good day for Notre Dame football.”
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