Notre Dame did what they needed to do on Saturday, and that was to beat the UVA Cavaliers. The game wasn’t perfect, if it was perfect there would be nothing to learn from it. You must learn from your mistakes. It’s a long season and it’s too early to be perfect. It starts with the players having the “players only” meeting to accepting the challenge from Coach Kelly made early in the “Cavaliers week” prep. Coach Kelly alluded to this on his post game press conference.
“Great game, proud of my, my staff. It was not an easy week, challenged our football team, right after the Georgia game, this would be a defining game. That’s hard to do after playing a very emotional game against Georgia to come out as the head coach and tell your team this week will be a defining game. In some instances that’s not very fair, but we challenged them, they accepted the challenge, the staff accepted the challenge, and they responded.
They were exactly what I wanted them to be. They were determined, they were persistent, they didn’t panic, maybe teams earlier that I’ve had here would not have found a way to win that game, but this is a group that has really developed a persistence about them in the way they do things on a day-to-day basis. This is not just about playing football this is about the way they do things every single day and it showed up.”
The game started off in a weird fashion. For the first time in a long time, after winning the coin toss, The Irish chose to defer to the second half. Typically if the Irish win the coin toss, they choose to receive the ball and try to set the tempo. That did not happen on Saturday afternoon. This will be important to start the second half.
The Cavaliers opened with a run that ended in a one yard loss. The ensuing play the Cavaliers get off a pass for 18 yards. Then they go run and lose another yard. The Irish defense was saying, you’re not going to run on us. So the Cavaliers obliged. Perkins passes for 43 yards. They go run again and once again for a loss of one. The Irish attempt to make the Cavaliers one dimensional. If you are going to make a team one dimensional, you must be prepared for the opposite. The Cavaliers couldn’t beat the Irish on the ground, but they beat them in the air. Two plays later, Perkins passes for a TD to go up 7-0 on the Irish. Minus three yards but 69 yards passing will make a defense pay attention.
To open the drive, the offensive line gave up a sack to the sack leading team in the country. The Irish combine the run and pass into their first drive. The biggest play of the drive was the 28 yard pass to Chris Finke. Ian Book went 5-5 for 62 yards. From five yards out Tony Jones Jr takes it to the end zone for a touchdown.
The Irish building on their first defensive series new what adjustments needed to be made for their second time on the field. The Cavaliers come out and go pass, rush, pass, pass, and the ensuing play Julian Okwara sacks Perkins, causes a fumble and then recovers it.
Book continued to to be perfect. Going three for three and 16 yards, (27 yards via penalties by the Cavaliers defense), C’Bo Flemister scampers for 11 yards for the go ahead touchdown. The Irish lead 14-7 with :18 left in the first quarter.
The Cavaliers open the quarter by playing small ball. The Irish defense did not allow a big play. The biggest play of the drive was a 15 yard pass from Perkins to Reed. Jacob Lacey and Ovie Oghoufo team up for a sack on Perkins and loses four yards. On the ground the Cavaliers were also unsuccessful in the run portion of the drive as the started minus one yard and then later in the drive a successful one yard run. After being stalled in the ND 14 Delaney kicked a 32 yard field goal to bring the score to 14-10 Irish.
The perfect streak for Book ended on the next possession as he missed a pass to Javon McKinley. Jones Jr accounted for 11 yards of the drive. The Irish drive stalled at the Cavaliers 29 yard line. Doerer misses the field goal from 47 yards wide left and the Cavaliers take over on downs.
The Cavaliers fall victim to another forced fumble by the Irish defense. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah forces the fumble from Wayne Taulapapa, but Tanner Cowley recovers it at the VA 34. After the punt by Nash Griffin, the Irish go three and out. Jay Bramblett punts the ball 40 yards to the VA 24.
After two complete passes for 43 yards by Perkins, he once again is introduced to two more Irish defensemen. Kurt Hinish and Khalid Kareem get together for a loss of eight yards.
On third and eight Tony Pride Jr is called for pass interference. Instead of the Cavaliers attempting a field goal, they are awarded a first down at the ND 16. The next play Perkins throws a 16 yard TD pass to Hasis Dubois to bring the score to 17-14 in the second quarter with :43 left in the half. The half ends on Bramblett punt of 44 yards to the VA 40.
First Half Stats
Coming out of halftime, the Irish are lined up to receive the kick off. The Cavaliers have another plan to start the second half. The kick and it’s an on sides kick. They execute it successfully and start the third quarter on the 50 yard line. So much for deferring to the second half.
The Irish defense did not take kindly to the antics of the Cavaliers. The on side kick fired the defense up. On the second play of the Cavaliers drive Julian Okwara dropped Perkins for a seven yard loss. The Cavaliers would go three and out and end up punting the ball to the ND 2. The Irish offense didn’t move the ball very far. Punting from the end zone Bramblett boots another 40 yard punt to the ND 38. On the third play of the drive Jamir Jones forces the ball from Perkins and Myron Tagovailoa Amosa rambles for 48 yards to the VA 7.
Jones Jr gets two calls after the fumble recovery. The second rush of the short drive results in a second touchdown for Jones Jr.
The Irish defense was just relentless. Kareem continues to rack up the sacks as he gets to Perkins again for a four yard loss. The Cavaliers punt the ball away for 35 yards to the ND 40. Finke starts to advance the ball and is fumbled and the Cavaliers pick it up at the ND 41.
The Cavaliers second run at making progress is stopped once again by the Irish defense and are forced to go for it on fourth and one and are stopped. The Irish defense stood tall and denied the short yardage attempt. The cavaliers defense is not allowing the Irish to advance either. They force the Irish to punt on fourth and one as Bramblett comes into the game. After the 33 yard punt to the VA 21. The Irish defense had bigger things on their mind. On the second first and ten of the drive, Okwara sacks Perkins and the ball is fumbled, Adetokunbe Ogundeji “scoops and scores” on a 23 yard touchdown run.
To start the fourth quarter both the Cavaliers and the Irish go three and out. The Cavaliers drive was stopped by Alohi Gilman at the ND 29.
Jones Jr was the work horse on the drive. A rush for three yards, another for 28 yards, set up for the grand finale. Three plays later, Jones Jr ran for 30 yards to put the Irish up 35-17 with 10:28 left in the game.
Though the Irish had stopped the Cavaliers the entire second half, the Cavaliers still had some fight in them. Perkins continued to sling the ball on the their second to last drive. Moving the ball from their on 25 yard line, Perkins moved the ball to the ND 10 where the drive was stalled. The Cavaliers Delaney kicked a 27 yard field goal to bring the game to it’s final score 35-20.
The Final Numbers
Book 17-25 for 165 Yards, 7 carries for 22 Yards
T.O.P. 26:38 for ND and 33:31 for UVA
Sacks ND 8 and UVA 2
Rushing 178 Yards ND and 4 Yards UVA
Passing 165 Yards ND and UVA 334 Yards
The Wrap Up
DL Adetekunbo Ogundeji’s 23-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the third quarter was the first of his career.
DL Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa recovered QB Bryce Perkins’ fumble from a DL Jamir Jones strip-sack, returning it 48 yards to the Virginia seven-yard line and setting up a two-yard Jones rushing TD.
The Notre Dame defense recorded eight sacks.
Post Game Press Conference
Tony Jones Jr
🏈🏈🏈 Tony Jones Jr 18 Carries 131 Yards, 3 TDs
🏈🏈 Ian Book 17-25 for 165 Yards, 7 carries for 22 Yards
🏈 C’Bo Flemister 6 Carries, 27 Yards, 1 TD
🏈🏈🏈 Julian Okwara 3 Total Tackles 1 Solo, 3 Sacks, 3 Tackles For Loss, 2 QB Hurries
🏈🏈 Adetokunbe Ogundeji 23 Yard fumble recovery TD
🏈 Khalid Kareem 3 Total Tackles 2 Solo, 2.5 Sacks, 2.5 Tackles For Loss, 1 QB Hurries
Next Up For The Irish
Bowling Green comes to Notre Dame on Saturday October 5th at 3:30 PM on NBC. Brian VanGorder makes his return to Notre Dame as well. Chicago will also play at halftime.
Cheers and Go Irish! 🍀🏈⚡