Ron Powlus was worth the wait. The Notre Dame sophomore threw four touchdown passes in his first game and the third-ranked Irish overcame a slow start to rout Northwestern, 42-15.
Powlus, who sat out last season after breaking his collarbone, had been bothered by a sore elbow in preseason practice. But there was nothing wrong with his arm or his passes Saturday night.
He completed 18 of 24 for 291 yards and with his four touchdown passed tied a school record held by Steve Beuerlein, Daryle Lamonica and Angelo Bertelli.
Powlus, regarded as one the nation’s top prep quarterbacks at Berwick, Pa., hit three of his touchdown passes in the second quarter as Notre Dame took control.
He completed 10 of 13 first-half passes for 186 yards as the Irish scored two touchdowns in the final 72 seconds to take a 21-3 lead before a sellout crowd of 66,946 at Soldier Field.
Powlus hit four more passes on the opening possession of the second half, one a 21-yarder that Ray Zellars caught one-handed, as the Irish moved in for another score. Lee Becton’s two-yard run capped the 65-yard drive that made it 28-3 with 9:18 to go in the third.
Powlus threw a 36-yard pass to Derrick Mayes, who wrestled the ball away from Rodney Ray to make it 35-3 with 4:55 left.
Northwestern’s Dennis Lundy had 116 yards in 21 carries in the first quarter and finished with 138 in 27 to move past the 2,000-yard mark in his career.