BOSTON – Brian Kelly came back home to earn his first road victory as coach at Notre Dame.
Dayne Crist threw for two first-quarter touchdowns and ran for another on Saturday night to help the Fighting Irish build a 21-point lead and Notre Dame coasted to a 31-13 victory over Boston College. Notre Dame had lost three straight games — all to teams that were ranked in The Associated Press Top 25 this week.
"We're happy. Happy, happy, happy," Kelly said when asked if he was relieved. "Everybody's happy in Notre Dame-land. Our players wanted a win."
And so did Kelly, who was raised in the Boston area and played at Assumption College in Worcester.
"I think the 100 or so people I got tickets for, they probably had a great time in the tailgating lot," he said. "But for me, it was about getting the football team a win. We really needed the win."
The Irish (2-3) got little resistance from Boston College, which promoted freshman Chase Rettig to starting quarterback during the week only to lose him to an ankle injury early in the second quarter. X-rays were negative, but he did not return.
Crist completed 24 of 44 passes for 203 yards, and Armando Allen ran for 90 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. The Irish defense held BC (2-2) to 5 net yards rushing overall.
"They came in here and licked us — schematically, physically, and in every way," BC coach Frank Spaziani said. "We came out and spotted them 21 points. That's not good for us."
Kelly said he remembered watching on TV when Doug Flutie threw his famous "Hail Mary" to beat Miami in 1984. With Flutie in the stadium, Kelly gave the Irish their second consecutive victory in the matchup of the nation's only Catholic schools playing in the FBS.
The Eagles had beaten Notre Dame six consecutive times before last year's 20-16 loss in South Bend, Ind., when first-year quarterback Dave Shinskie threw an interception with 98 seconds left to help the Irish clinch it. After demoting Shinskie during the week, BC coach Frank Spaziani again sent out a freshman to face the Irish — this one in his first collegiate start ever.
Rettig started with three straight three-and-outs and trailed 21-0 before connecting on a 58-yard touchdown pass to Bobby Swigert with 19 seconds left in the first quarter. But on BC's first possession of the second, Rettig was blindsided in the pocket as he released the ball; he limped toward the sideline before hopping the last few steps off the field.
That left the job in the hands of Mike Marscovetra, who had subbed for Shinskie in a handful of games but was skipped over for the more highly touted Rettig.
Marscovetra finished 22 of 37 for 193 yards, throwing interceptions on back-to-back drives in the fourth quarter that killed any chance BC had of a comeback.
Rettig was 5 of 10 for 72 yards, most of it on the TD pass to Swigert.
Notre Dame started the game with a 63-yard kickoff return and then got a 30-yard run from Allen to help set up Crist's 7-yard run for the corner of the end zone. The Irish needed only 1 minute, 48 seconds and just one second down to travel 50 yards in four plays.
The second drive stalled, and the third was a more methodical march to the BC 2 yard-line before Crist hit Kyle Rudolph for a 2-yard TD. After BC's third three-and-out, Notre Dame went 72 yards for another touchdown. Crist connected with Michael Floyd for 35 yards to set up a 20-yarder to Theo Riddick that made it 21-0 with 2:19 still to play in the first.
"Just to get the offense rolling early was big for us," Crist said. "We know how this team can play; we know the potential this team has and where we can go. ... Guys are happy, jumping around the locker room and it's a great team to share it with."
Rettig followed with his only success of the night on the TD pass to Swigert. BC took advantage of a pair of Irish fumbles to add a pair of field goals by Nate Freese — including a 49-yarder — that cut it to 21-13 before Notre Dame added a field goal that made it an 11-point game at the half.