SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Michael Floyd caught three touchdown passes and had 157 yards receiving Saturday as Notre Dame pulled away in the third quarter to beat Western Michigan 44-20 for its third straight victory.
Floyd took a pass from Dayne Crist and raced 80 yards for a score on the game's first play from scrimmage, caught a 32-yarder on an option pass from John Goodman for a TD and later grabbed a 2-yarder from Crist in the third.
The Irish (4-3) led 27-17 at the half, using two interceptions to set up TDs. Cierre Wood's 39-yard touchdown run got the Irish rolling in the third and their defense blanked the Broncos in the second half until John Potter kicked a 26-yard field goal with just over five minutes left.
Western Michigan quarterback Alex Carder ran for a pair of first-half TDS for the Broncos (2-4) on a windy day at Notre Dame Stadium. Carder finished 28 of 43 for 277 yards.
Crist passed for three TDS, completed 18-of-28 for 255 yards and also ran for a score in three quarters of action.
With leading rusher Armando Allen bothered by a sore hip and limited to only three carries, Notre Dame's rushing total in the first half was minus 4 as Dayne Crist was sacked three times.
But Wood, Allen's replacement, broke away on Notre Dame's second play from scrimmage in the second half for his 39-yard TD to make it 34-17. Floyd caught his third scoring pass of the game, a 2-yarder on a fourth down from Crist later in the third.
Wood had 91 of his 94 rushing yards in the second half.
Four of Notre Dame's touchdowns came on drives that took under a minute.
With a little more than two minutes left in the first half, Notre Dame went for it on fourth-and-5 from the Western Michigan 39. Crist found a wide open Tyler Eifert — playing in place of injured Kyle Rudolph — and he ran easily into the end zone to put the Irish up 27-10. The score was set up by Gary Gray's interception.
But the Broncos then took off on an 80-yard drive, using four pass completions by Carder, his 20-yard run and then 3-yard TD keeper to score with 15 seconds to go in the half to cut it 10.
One play after Darius Fleming intercepted a Carder pass, the Irish used some trickery to break an early tie. Wide receiver Goodman, a former high school quarterback, took a flip from Crist on a reverse and tossed a 32-yard TD pass to Floyd for a 14-7 lead.
Crist upped the lead to 20-7 with a 9-yard TD run in the second quarter capping a 36-yard drive.
The Broncos then drove to the Irish 5 before settling for Potter's 23-yard field goal.
The Irish struck quickly following the opening kickoff, as Crist passed to Floyd and the talented receiver caught the ball and spun away from the attempted tackle of Lewis Toler, breaking free for a score with just 12 seconds elapsed.
But Western Michigan mixed it up and, with Carder completing five passes, the Broncos moved 59 yards in 15 plays for a tie.
Using a strange unbalanced formation with Carder, the center and two receivers on one side of the field and the seven other Broncos split away, Carder sneaked for two yards and a first on a fourth-and-1 from the Irish 11. Four plays later, he kept again from the Irish 1 and with a second effort was able to wiggle into the end zone for the TD.
Notre Dame's David Ruffer kicked a 33-yard field goal in the fourth, extending his school record to 17 straight without a miss. He did have an extra point attempt blocked.