Bester, Gardner shine for RedHawks in Notre Dame loss

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Bester, Gardner shine for RedHawks in Notre Dame loss

As the product of a Roman Catholic high school in West Chester, Pa., Doug Costin might’ve gotten a bit more than many of his teammates out of playing football on Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium, under the unyielding gaze of Touchdown Jesus.

“Playing in that stadium is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Miami’s 6-foot-2, 285-pound sophomore defensive end said Monday. He was touched specifically by being able to visit the famed Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. “Overall, the whole experience was memorable.”

Wide receiver Sam Martin just savored the overall experience, aside from the three-hours-and-16 minutes they spent on the field butting heads with the Fighting Irish.

“It was invaluable,” said the 6-2, 201-pound senior from Boulder, Colo., who caught three passes for 22 yards. “Notre Dame is historic. The outcome wasn’t what you’d like, but we competed and never gave up.”

At least Costin and the RedHawks will have those memories to help salve the wounds left by a 52-17 loss to Notre Dame , which rose from No. 22 in last week’s Associated Press Top 25 to No. 21 this week.

“The story of the game was their big, strong offensive line taking control of the game,” Miami coach Chuck Martin said. “Our defensive line was a little overwhelmed. It was a massacre out there.”

Video breakdowns confirmed Martin’s post-game assessment that several RedHawks played very well and should have no problems saying “I played at Notre Dame, and I was not overmatched.”

“A lot of guys played good football,” Martin said. “Obviously, not enough of them. We got killed. You go in hoping to catch them in an off-year. Well, we didn’t catch them in an off-year. It was a long, hard afternoon, but it was good for the team and good for the (Mid-American Conference), and we had 10 or 12 players who played well.”

One of them was Jaylon Bester, a 5-foot-11, 165-pound product of Althoff Catholic High School in Belleville, Ill. Despite being listed as a wide receiver on Miami’s roster, Bester ran the ball five times for 26 yards and returned seven kickoffs for 163 yards. When Martin asked his players to name one guy everybody was talking about, Bester’s name came up.

“Some Notre Dame guys were telling me that ‘That little (No.) 18 is going to be a good player,” Martin said.

Junior wide receiver James Gardner also was among those RedHawks who weren’t awed by the 77,622 fans crammed into Notre Dame Stadium. The 6-4, 216-pound junior from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., caught five passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns.

“James made some ridiculous plays,” Murphy said. “If we could have given (quarterback Gus Ragland) more time, we might’ve had more success, but that Notre Dame front seven was pretty incredible.”

Miami is 2-3 overall as it resumes MAC play on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. against the 0-5 Bowling Green Falcons, who are 0-1 in the conference after losing to Akron, 34-23, at home last Saturday. It will be strictly MAC competition through the end of the regular season for the RedHawks, who could be 4-1 if not for a turnover-plagued loss at Marshall in the season-opener and a bitter 21-17 loss at home to archrival Cincinnati in which the Bearcats scored 15 points in the last three minutes.

“We’ve had a couple of frustrating losses, but we’re 1-0 and tied for first (in the MAC East Division) with a chance to be tied for first after Saturday,” Martin said. “The biggest thing as a team is keeping it simple and not trying to do too much. We’ve got to clean up our mistakes and keep it simple.”

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