SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame announced a deal that will keep coach Brian Kelly around to produce more victories like Saturday’s season-opening 28-6 win over Temple, which featured three quick scoring strikes and stiff defensive effort.
Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick announced Saturday that Kelly received a contract extension. Kelly said the deal was for five years and it started this season.
Kelly, 51, recorded his 200th career win as a head coach with the victory over Temple, with 118 wins coming at Division II Grand Valley State and 82 coming at the Division I level with Central Michigan, Cincinnati and Notre Dame. The Irish went 12-1 last season and reached the BCS championship game.
On behalf of (Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins) and the rest of the University of Notre Dame, (I want) to say how thrilled we are that on a day where our head football coach becomes one of the youngest coaches in history to achieve the 200-win milestone, that we can also announce that we have entered into a new agreement that ensures that Brian will continue to provide the leadership that has fundamentally changed this program, restored it, given it the foundation that it needs for continued success in the future, Swarbrick said.
Notre Dame’s growth under Kelly was on display early against Temple as the Irish struck quickly on their first two possessions.
Irish running back Amir Carlisle erased a 5-yard penalty for an illegal substitution with a 45-yard run on the first play, and quarterback Tommy Rees found receiver DaVaris Daniels for a 32-yard touchdown reception two plays later for a 7-0 lead. It was Daniels’ first career touchdown.
Notre Dame struck again on its next possession. Receiver TJ Jones opened it with a 51-yard reception, and Rees and Daniels hooked up for another 32-yard touchdown two plays later for a 14-0 lead with 10:19 to play in the first quarter.
The Irish’s offense went dormant after the second score, and the Owls started putting together long drives but could only muster six points.
Temple closed the first quarter with a 65-yard drive that ended with Jim Cooper missing a 32-yard field goal. Cooper missed a 43-yard field goal with 6:27 left in the second quarter after a 54-yard drive.
The Owls finally scored on a 1-yard run by Kenny Harper at the end of a 78-yard drive with 1:01 left in the second, but Jarron Jones blocked the point-after attempt.
Notre Dame responded quickly to the touchdown as Rees hit tight end Troy Niklas for a 66-yard touchdown and a 21-6 lead with 43 seconds left in the first half. Running back George Atkinson III completed the scoring with a 2-yard run with 5:37 to play in the third quarter.
To get early leads is great for the team morale, said Rees, who threw for a career-high 346 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. We kind of slipped up there a little bit in the second quarter before (tight end Troy Niklas’) long score. We had some missed opportunities. But I’m really proud of the way the guys kept chugging along and didn’t let a couple of drives and stalls get us down. We kept moving forward, and it worked out.
Daniels, who had three catches for 69 yards, wasn’t able to complete the game after he pulled up lame on a deep throw early in the second quarter. Kelly said the junior had a slight groin pull and was kept out for precautionary reasons.
Jones had six catches for 138 yards in his first 100-yard game.
A lot of good things happened in our opener against Temple, and we’ve looked to build on that, Kelly said. We’re going to have to play better in all phases against Michigan next week, but we’re going to enjoy this victory today, and our kids will get back to work on Monday.