Buford's Walker makes splash in homecoming

ATLANTA - Welcome home, Darius Walker.

On Saturday night, the former Buford superstar and state record-setter stepped foot on a Georgia football field for the first time since the Wolves' state-championship victory over Charlton County in December of 2003.

And he picked up right where he left off.

The Notre Dame tailback rushed for 99 yards - 77 in the second half - and scored the game-winning touchdown in the Fighting Irish's 14-10 win over

Georgia Tech.

"It was nice to be home," Walker said afterward. "It was nice to get a chance to play in front of the home crowd ... it was exciting."

And if it wasn't for Walker's second-half surge, the No. 2 Irish might have suffered a serious blow to their national championship hopes on Saturday.

Walker - as he usually does - got stronger as the game wore on, picking up a couple of huge first-down runs in the second half.

"I tell you what," Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis said, "the more he touches the ball, the more productive he is ... I try to keep him at 25 carries a game. You give him that, he's usually going to get you about 100 yards."

On this night however, much to Walker's dismay, it was only 99.

"Is that what it was?" Walker asked with a smile. "It was 99? Man, I should've gotten back in there for one more play."

Walker was largely absent from the game plan in the first half.

The former Parade All-American had just eight carries for 22 yards and two catches for eight yards before halftime. Meanwhile, Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn threw the ball 27 times in the first two quarters, completing 15 for 104 yards.

But the second half was a completely different script.

Walker gained almost as many yards on his first two carries of the third quarter than he did all of the first half, ripping off an eight-yard run and then a 12-yard run to move the ball into Tech territory.

Then, after briefly leaving the field for a play after suffering a "stinger," Walker made his presence felt in a big way.

On second-and-goal from the Tech 15, Walker took a screen pass from Quinn, made a couple of real nice moves and danced into the end zone for an apparent TD - it was called back however because of an illegal block, leaving the Irish with a second-and-goal from the 13.

On the very next play, Walker took a draw, hit the hole, sped to the left sideline and dove into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.

"That was a little upsetting," Walker said of the touchdown that was called back, "that's why I got in the second time, because I thought I should've gotten the first one."

Either way it was another Darius Walker touchdown in the state of Georgia.

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