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Throwback Thursday: Notre Dame VS Georgia Tech, 2006

A Nailbiting Opener

NCAA Football - Notre Dame vs Georgia Tech - September 2, 2006
Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn lets go off a pass after being hit by Georgia Tech LB Philip Wheeler during the game at Grant Field at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta, GA on September 2, 2006.
Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

As we inch closer and closer toward the start of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football season, this week I am going to write about the first game of the 2006 season. (On a side note, I was going to write about the first game of the 1999 season, which I vividly remember based on how incredibly hot it was, {and I was very, very pregnant}. But all that I could find in the Notre Dame archives was an article on the season titled, “A Season Gone Terribly Wrong,” which while funny, wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. But I digress ...).

Notre Dame opened their 2006 campaign with a nail biting game against Georgia Tech on Saturday, September 2nd. Headed into this game Notre Dame had won 27 games in the series, and Georgia Tech had won five games, with there being one tie in the series played in 1980 (3-3). Notre Dame’s longest win streak in the series is six games, which occurred from 1922-1927. The series between the two teams spans 100 years, with the first game being played on October 28th, 1922, and the most recent game being played on November 20th, 2021.

Below is the game recap from the 2006 Notre Dame Football Review, which appeared in the 2007 issue of the Scholastic Magazine.

A Nailbiting Opener

September 2, 2006, marked the end of eight months of Irish football fans’ eager anticipation of Charlie Weis’ sophomore season as Notre Dame’s head coach. Coming off a 9-3 season in 2005 that reinvigorated Irish fans across the country, including a “Game of the Century” in which No.9 Notre Dame was seconds away from upsetting No.1 USC, Irish fans’ high expectations for the 2006 season included phrases like “Heisman Trophy” and “National Championship. “ The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets used that hype as motivation, and when the No.2 ranked Irish team and thousands of their fans headed down to Atlanta for the season opener, they found themselves in a game much closer than most had expected.

The Irish ended up on top with a 14-10 victory over the Yellow Jackets, but the match-up showed that Notre Dame would have to make use of both its running and passing game in order to hold on to a top ranking. While fans and critics alike expected quarterback and captain. Brady Quinn to start off another record-breaking season of touchdown throws and passing yards, the Irish were held scoreless in the first quarter. In fact, after a missed field goal attempt by senior kicker Carl Gioia, Notre Dame didn’t put any points on the board until Quinn scrambled into the endzone with 11 seconds remaining in the first half.

In the meantime the Yellow Jackets, led by junior Wide receiver Calvin Johnson, had put 10 points on the board with Johnson’s first-quarter touchdown and Travis Bell’s 30-yard field goal in the second quarter. The Irish came out better prepared on defense in the second half, holding Johnson to only two catches for 16 yards. This defensive performance allowed a third-quarter touchdown from junior running back Darius Walker, a Georgia native, to stand as the winning score. Here, the Irish benefited from a Georgia Tech personal foul that set them up at first and goal. Walker took the handoff from Quinn and with it, the win. Quinn finished the game 23-of-38 for 246 yards and, though he was sacked twice, threw no interceptions.

Despite the close score, the Irish did show signs of strength that promised to keep them in step for another winning season. Notre Dame fans were excited to welcome back senior wide receiver Rhema McKnight who was injured in the 2005 Michigan game. McKnight had a triumphant return, catching eight passes for 108 yards. The game also marked a change of position for senior captain Travis Thomas, whom Weis moved from running back to linebacker prior to the start of the season. Walker was also a top performer with 99 yards on the ground in addition to his touchdown run.

And though Geoff Price was a less familiar name during the 2005 season, his standout performance against the Yellow Jackets ensured that every Irish fan would soon know who he was. Price punted five times with a 50.4 yard average~ Senior tight end John Carlson also stepped up to fill the gap left by Anthony Fasano’s departure to the NFL. Carlson had four receptions for 36 yards and promised to play an integral role in the Irish offense. Above all, Notre Dame’s composure in recovering from a 10-point deficit gave Irish fans confidence in their team’s ability to come back, something that would prove key in later games against Michigan State and UCLA.

So ... what game(s) are you most looking forward to this year? I think I’m most excited about the Clemson matchup at Notre Dame, but really I’m just excited to have football back! What say you?

Cheers & GO IRISH!