By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, DECEMBER 29- The fourth annual Pinstripe Bowl can certainly be termed a success. A capacity crowd of 47,122 filled the seats of Yankee Stadium to witness Notre Dame, currently nationally ranked #25, but an iconic football program for a century, face Rutgers University, a neighbor from New Jersey. To add to the luster of seeing the “Fighting Irish”, most of their players on the field on Saturday were part of the team that competed in the most recent national championship contest in January.
The mild weather for a winter day in New York City was also a favorable attraction for selling tickets and for providing comfort for those in the stands for the three hours and 28 minutes of the game.
The attraction was also a boon to the economy of New York City. At a pre-game press conference, New York Yankees president Randy Levine estimated that the game will add $25 million to the city’s economy.
The on the field action was far more competitive and, thus, interesting than most observers predicted. The score was knotted three times during the first half, and Notre Dame maintained only a three point advantage with 3:39 remaining on the clock.
Notre Dame remains undefeated in the five games between the two schools. The rivalry began in 1921. Their most recent game was in 2002.
Although the game being played was American football, 27 of the 45 points on the scoreboard came as a result of strong legs accurately kicking the football. Can anyone say soccer?
The five field goals kicked by Kyle Brindza of Notre Dame tied the school’s single game mark. The two extra points he kicked raised his season point total to 98, high for this year’s team. The other Kyle (Federico) of Rutgers kicked three field goals and an extra point to keep the Scarlett Knights close. It should come as no surprise to those cognizant of the two sports, both kickers were members of their high schools’ soccer teams.
Only three touchdowns were scored. The first was an eight yard run by Notre Dame wide receiver TJ Jones. He later suffered a second degree shoulder strain that curtailed his effectiveness. A three yard run by Tarean Folston with 3:38 remaining was the other touchdown for the Irish.
The only Rutgers touchdown was scored by Brandon Coleman on a 14-yard pass from quarterback Chas Dodd.
Offensive tackle Zack Martin was named the game’s MVP. His coach, Brian Kelly, was effusive in his praise, “He’s an outstanding and unique player, the best offensive linesman I have ever coached.”
Kelly, the Notre Dame coach summed up his feelings regarding his team’s season, “[it was] a good year but not a great year. It’s [nine wins] not enough for us. We want more.”