Scores
NEW ERA PINSTRIPE BOWL

Final

Rutgers 16

(6-7, 3-5 American)

Notre Dame 29

(9-4)

Coverage: ESPN

12:00 PM ET, December 28, 2013

Yankee Stadium, BRONX, NY

1 2 3 4 T
RUTG 10 3 0 316
ND 10 3 3 1329

Top Performers

Passing: T. Rees (ND) - 319 YDS

Rushing: T. Folston (ND) - 17 CAR, 73 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: B. Coleman (RUTG) - 2 REC, 65 YDS, 1 TD

Notre Dame controls 2nd half to beat Rutgers in Pinstripe Bowl

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- This nicely sums up Tommy Rees' Notre Dame career.

The senior threw for 319 yards and no interceptions in his final college game, leading No. 25 Notre Dame to a 29-16 victory against Rutgers that was far from pretty but ultimately successful -- and an offensive lineman won the MVP award.

"I was giving Tommy a hard time," said senior tackle Zack Martin, who took home the award. "I think he got snubbed a little bit."

Rees finished four years of football for the Fighting Irish packed with both memorable and forgettable moments with a solid performance, going 27 for 47. He has been "The Closer," rallying Notre Dame to victories with late drives, and "Turnover Tommy," making crushing mistakes at the most inopportune times during his time in South Bend, Ind.

For his finale, against one of the worst pass defenses in the nation, Rees was mistake free and productive. He missed some throws that could have broken open the game, but, typically, he persevered.

"I'm a Tommy Rees fan for life," coach Brian Kelly said.

Kyle Brindza kicked five field goals for the Fighting Irish (9-4), who completed their follow-up season to last year's run to the national championship game a long way from the BCS -- facing a two-touchdown underdog that was trying to avoid a losing record.

Notre Dame's play was less than inspired -- Kelly said about a dozen players were fighting a flu bug -- but the win prevented the Irish from finishing with eight victories for the third time in his four seasons.

"A good season that could have been a great season," Kelly said.

Notre Dame's TJ Jones scored on an 8-yard run in the first quarter and Rutgers star Brandon Coleman answered with a 14-yard touchdown catch soon after. Tarean Folston's 3-yard touchdown run with 3:38 in the fourth made it 26-16 and finally gave the Irish a comfortable lead.

On the slick turf at Yankee Stadium, the Pinstripe Bowl turned into a field-goal kicking contest. Brindza was 5 for 6. Kyle Federico made 3 of 3 for the Scarlet Knights (6-7).

The Irish dominated in yards (494-237) and time of possession (38:49) but bogged down in the red zone repeatedly.

"I loved the way we were able to stay calm and stay within our offense and continue to kind of monotonously move the ball down the field," Rees said.

Twice Notre Dame put together double-digit play drives that ended in short field goals for Brindza. A 15-play, 90-yard march that started in the third quarter and ended in the fourth with Brindza's 25-yarder made it 19-13 Notre Dame with 12:46 left.

"I love the fourth quarter," Brindza said. "That's pretty much what a kicker's job is supposed to be."

Brindza's third field goal, a 26-yarder with 6:03 left in the third quarter, gave Notre Dame a 16-13 lead -- after the Irish caught a break. Brindza had missed from 36 yards but Rutgers was flagged for running into the kicker to give him a second, easier, try.

"We thought we played good red zone defense and we could make them kick a few field goals and attempt some field goals, maybe we could block one and then win the game in the fourth quarter," Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said. "We were kind of poised to do that."

Senior quarterback Chas Dodd, whose career has been similar to Rees' in terms of ups and downs, finished with 156 yards passing for Rutgers.

"What we saw with their defense was just what we knew we would see," Dodd said. "We had a game plan ready to attack it. We just weren't able to because of our execution."

Notre Dame improved to 17-6-3 at Yankee Stadium, though this ballpark in the Bronx is only a few years old and across the street from where the original House that Ruth built sat for decades.

"It's great to be in New York," Kelly told what was left of bowl record crowd of 47,122 during the postgame trophy ceremony on the field after the Irish had sung the alma mater with the band in right-center field, near the Yankees bullpen.

The Fighting Irish played the first football game in the new stadium back in 2010. Rees, a freshman then, helped the Irish beat Army and got to use Derek Jeter's locker. Called upon to lead the Irish this year after Everett Golson was suspended from school for academic cheating, Rees became the third Notre Dame player to surpass 3,000 yards through the air in a season.

Rees will next play in the East-West Shrine Game, trying to impress pro scouts.

"He's going to keep chasing that football dream," Kelly said. "But I told him he's got a bright future as a graduate assistant for Brian Kelly anytime."

----

Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

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Team Stat Comparison

 
RUTG
ND
1st Downs1631
Total Yards236494
Passing156319
Rushing80175
Penalties3-338-69
3rd Down Conversions3-127-16
4th Down Conversions1-11-1
Turnovers41
Possession21:4438:16

Passing Leaders

RutgersC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Dodd10/281565.613
Notre DameC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Rees27/473196.800

Rushing Leaders

RutgersCARYDSAVGTDLG
James10484.8013
Dodd10242.4019
Notre DameCARYDSAVGTDLG
McDaniel17804.7013
Folston17734.3112

Receiving Leaders

RutgersRECYDSAVGTDLG
Coleman26532.5151
Kroft34314.3019
Notre DameRECYDSAVGTDLG
Niklas47619.0028
Jones56613.2022

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERRUTGND
FG10:05Kyle Brindza 21 Yd
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03
FG08:00Kyle Federico 36 Yd
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33
TD04:30TJ Jones 8 Yd Run (Kyle Brindza Kick)
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310
TD01:51Brandon Coleman 14 Yd Pass From Chas Dodd (Kyle Federico Kick)
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1010
SECOND QUARTERRUTGND
FG12:59Kyle Brindza 38 Yd
Watch Highlight 
1013
FG08:35Kyle Federico 18 Yd
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1313
THIRD QUARTERRUTGND
FG06:03Kyle Brindza 26 Yd
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1316
FOURTH QUARTERRUTGND
FG12:46Kyle Brindza 25 Yd
Watch Highlight 
1319
FG08:57Kyle Federico 47 Yd
Watch Highlight 
1619
TD03:38Tarean Folston 3 Yd Run (Kyle Brindza Kick)
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1626
FG02:28Kyle Brindza 49 Yd
Watch Highlight 
1629

Research Notes

Tommy Rees failed to throw a touchdown pass today against Rutgers. Rees had thrown at least 1 pass TD in all 12 games this season entering today. Rutgers entered the game having allowed 31 pass TD this season, T-117th in the nation out of 123 FBS teams.

ESPN Stats & Information