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Irish got in trouble on Tide’s 1st drive

– Notre Dame suffered the worst first half of the season in the BCS championship game.

No. 2 Alabama became the first team to score on No. 1 Notre Dame on its first drive and in the first quarter when Eddie Lacy’s 20-yard touchdown run finished a five-play, 82-yard opening drive.

The Tide added another touchdown with a 3-yard pass to tight end Michael Williams with 6:14 left in the first quarter. T.J. Yeldon scored from a yard out and Lacy added an 11-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter to give Alabama a 28-0 halftime lead.

Notre Dame hadn’t given up a scoring drive of 75 or more yards until Alabama’s first and third scoring drives went for 82 and 80 yards.

Alabama had 309 yards and 16 first downs to Notre Dame’s 124 yards and five first downs in the opening half.

Healing Hegarty

Notre Dame backup center Matt Hegarty suffered a “mini-stroke” Nov. 8 and underwent surgery Dec. 14 to repair two previously undetected holes in his heart that had existed since birth, his parents, Bryan and Stacy, told Blue and Gold Illustrated the day before the BCS title game.

Hegarty, a 6-5, 296-pound sophomore, had played in the Irish’s first nine games this season, primarily on special teams. Coach Brian Kelly said in November that Hegarty was being shut down for the season because of a non-football issue but didn’t go into details about the player’s situation.

Hegarty’s parents told Blue and Gold that their son is expected to be able to continue his career at Notre Dame next season.

Honored freshmen

Notre Dame cornerback KeiVarae Russell and Alabama receiver Amari Cooper were named to the Football Writers Association of America’s freshman All-American first team before the BCS title game.

Russell had 50 tackles and two interceptions during the regular season.

More awards

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o added the Senior CLASS Award to his record-haul of seven major postseason awards before the title game.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was named the Liberty Mutual coach of the year before the title game, adding that coach of the year award to his other ones from the Associated Press, FWAA/Eddie Robinson and Home Depot.

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