AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — It took a few breaths for Notre Dame to adjust to the thin Colorado air at Falcon Stadium, but once it did, the Irish couldn’t be stopped.
Air Force went up early after blocking a Notre Dame field goal attempt and responding with a touchdown on the next series. The Falcons wouldn’t find the end zone again and couldn’t keep Notre Dame out.
The Irish (6-2) swept past Air Force (1-7) 45-10 on Saturday, Oct. 26.
Tommy Rees led the Irish to three straight touchdown drives to claim a 24-10 lead before halftime. Rees didn’t even need his usual targets in the effort. Freshmen receivers Corey Robinson and Will Fuller each recorded their first career touchdowns, while tight end Ben Koyack grabbed his second-ever score.
While the defense continued to handle the Air Force option offense — recovering two fumbles in the process — Rees continued to find targets deep in the end zone.
Rees would hit TJ Jones and Chris Brown for touchdowns before getting pulled late in the third quarter. It was the first time in Notre Dame history that five different receivers caught a touchdown pass in one game.
After Rees headed to the bench, back-up Andrew Hendrix picked up where he left off. Hendrix, who struggled against USC a week earlier, found Fuller 47 yards down the field and then punched in the quarterback keeper on the following play.
Rees finished 17-of-22 for 282 yards and a career-high five touchdowns.
Notre Dame, Air Force
Notre Dame 7 17 14 7 — 45
Air Force 7 3 0 0 — 10
AIR FORCE: Colton Huntsman 10 run; Will Conant kick, 5:05. Drive: 10 plays, 71 yards, 3:40. Key play: Jon Lee 2 run on 4th-and-2.
Score: Air Force 7, Notre Dame 0.
NOTRE DAME: Corey Robinson 35 pass from Tommy Rees; Kyle Brindza kick, 3:41. Drive: 5 plays, 75 yards, 1:24. Key play: Air Force holding penalty on 3rd-and-9 moves Notre Dame into Air Force territory.
Score: Notre Dame 7, Air Force 7.
NOTRE DAME: Will Fuller 46 pass from Rees; Brindza kick, 14:31. Drive: 6 plays, 91 yards, 2:18. Key play: Rees to TJ Jones for 23 yards to set up the touchdown.
Score: Notre Dame 14, Air Force 7.
AIR FORCE: Conant 47 field goal, 10:07. Drive: 13 plays, 46 yards, 4:24. Key play: Sam Gagliano 2 run to put Air Force in field goal position.
Score: Notre Dame 14, Air Force 10.
NOTRE DAME: Ben Koyack 22 pass from Rees; Brindza kick, 8:49. Drive: 3 plays, 51 yards, 1:09. Key play: Rees to DaVaris Daniels for 22 yards; 37-yard kickoff return by George Atkinson.
Score: Notre Dame 21, Air Force 10.
NOTRE DAME: Brindza 51 field goal, 3:57. Drive: 10 plays, 21 yards, 3:21. Key play: Rees to Troy Niklas for a 9-yard pass on fourth down.
Score: Notre Dame 24, Air Force 10.
NOTRE DAME: Jones 30 pass from Rees; Brindza kick, 8:24. Drive: 6 plays, 62 yards, 2:55. Key play: Cam McDaniel runs of 8, 9 and 11 yards.
Score: Notre Dame 31, Air Force 10.
NOTRE DAME: Chris Brown 15 pass from Rees; Brindza kick, 3:07. Drive: 7 plays, 63 yards, 3:36. Key play: Tarean Folston runs of 9 and 16 yards.
Score: Notre Dame 38, Air Force 10.
NOTRE DAME: Andrew Hendrix 4 run; Brindza kick, 13:31. Drive 2 plays, 51 yards, 0:26. Key play: Hendrix to Fuller for a 47-yard pass.
Score: Notre Dame 45, Air Force 10.
FINAL: Notre Dame 45, Air Force 10.