It took 3 weeks, but the Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish finally got to play some football. With 36 players returning either from isolation or quarantine it was “Game On” Saturday night. The question on everyone’s mind was, will the Fightin’ Irish be able to play at a level that will not result in a loss versus the ‘Noles? The first couple minutes seemed to put the Irish on upset alert if you were “in game” watching on Facebook or Twitter. There are three things to remember: 1) A football game has sixty minutes, 2) Championships are not won in October, 3) The Fightin’ Irish understand what’s at stake.
The opening moments of the first quarter were pretty intense. After an opening pass by Ian Book to Brock Wright, the nimble hands of Kyren Williams surrendered the football back to the Seminoles unwillingly. With short yardage on the recovery by the Seminoles, Ryan Fitzgerald converted the turnover to three points from forty two yards out. Three points is better than seven. That would prove true later in the quarter.
Knowing the stakes of falling behind, the Irish wanted to score quickly. Coach Rees knowing he needed to get Williams back on track, the first play would have to go to him. Boy did it ever. Williams busted through the Seminoles secondary and ran for a sixty five yard rush to the FSU10. Two plays later, Book connected with Michael Mayer for an eight yard TD pass. The touchdown was Michael Mayer’s first collegiate TD. The entire drive went for 3 plays, 75 yards, and a Time Of Possession (T.O.P.) of 1:20. Irish lead 7-3.
The Irish defense made quick work of the Seminoles on their second drive. Allowing only nineteen yards, forced the the ‘Noles to punt. Again, the Irish on offense were ready to strike quick. And quick it was again. After completing passes to Braden Lenzy and Williams, Williams was off to the races. A Forty six yard rush by Williams but the Irish ahead, 14-3. Williams righted the wrong of the fumble on the first drive.
Never Ending Quarter
The Irish defense did their thing forcing a three and out on the Seminoles. A Special Teams gaff by Lawrence Keys, gave the ball right back to the FSU. This time the defense broke and the Seminoles scored their first TD of the game. 14-10 The Irish lead. For those keeping score, that is ten points on turnovers. Both turnovers happened within thirty five yards of the end zone.
The Seminoles feeling the shift in momentum, forced the Irish to go three and out. The defense not getting much of a breather as the offense was only on the field for one minute was a little gassed. The Seminoles took advantage of that and had their own quick drive and scored on four plays. The Seminoles regained the lead 17-14 with 2:51 left in the quarter. The two turnovers for ten points was the3 swing the Seminoles needed. The defense really gave up one bad drive for seventy one yards.
The Notre Dame defense definitely settled in after the first quarter. The defense allowed a total of sixty nine yard in the second quarter. One drive was for minus three yards. The only points from FSU, was a Field Goal from twenty six yards.
The Irish on the other hand scored and they scored often. On four possessions the Fightin’ Irish scored three touchdowns. Drives of seventy five yards, eighty one yards, and fifty seven yards used approximately 5:29 for T.O.P.
Williams scored his second TD of the game to put the Irish at 21-17. Chris Tyree scored his second TD of the season on a thirteen yard rush to put the Irish up 28-17. Braden Lenzy was the recipient of a Book pass for six yards that put the Irish up 35-20. That is your score going into the half.
The start to the third quarter looked like the Seminoles made the correct changes in the locker room. A thirty yard strike to the quarter put the Irish defense on it’s heels. The drive for the Seminoles culminated with a seven yard rush by Jordan Travis. The ‘Noles go for a two point conversion and it failed. The score to open the half is 35-26 Irish.
Once again, the Irish were ready to execute and score. Two big plays of that drive were by Javon McKinley. The first catch for eleven and the second catch was for thirty eight. Those two plays set up the Avery Davis thirteen yard rush, and Book’s second score of the day from three yards out. The Irish widen the lead 42-26.
The Irish had one more scoring opportunity. After driving to the FSU27 Jonathan Doerer missed a forty five yard field.
There was only three possessions between both teams in the fourth quarter. The first drive for the Seminoles was a long one. But not all long drives result in points on the board. After 6:32 for T.O.P., Shaun Crawford comes up with the INT to shut the drive down.
The Irish take the INT and drive the length of the field. Only to get stalled at the FSU2. The Irish probably could have scored but it just didn’t happen. Tyree got the bulk of the work. That bulk of the work equated to forty yards. What is missing is his two attempts from the FSU2 yard line that netted zero yards. ND turned the ball over on downs and FSU didn’t do anything with the opportunity. The Irish offense dominated the Seminoles and walked away with a 42-26 final score.
The Wrap Up
Let’s talk about the defense for a moment. The defense gave up ten points early on two turnovers inside the ND32 and ND19. The ND32 score was a field goal and the ND19 was a TD. Taking those points off the board the Irish win 42-16. These guys didn’t tackle for two weeks until October 4th in a team scrimmage. ND’s defense is in the same situation as the other football teams. They are avoiding contact and tackling is an area of high contact.
The Fightin’ Irish total yards was 365 compared to the Seminoles 216 in the first half. The Irish defense also turned away the Seminoles of third down three times. In the second quarter, the Nole’s only had seventy four yards of offense compared to ND’s 163. That works out to seven yards passing and sixty seven yards rushing. The defense tightened up tremendously. For the half they allowed 216 yards. They only allowed 189 total yards in the second half same as the Irish.
In retrospect, the defense gave up yards but ultimately they ended up the better side of the stats. It’s also ok for the offense to save the defense on occasion. That is exactly what happened against the Seminoles.
Coach Kelly Press Conference
“I think first and foremost, winning is hard. Just to be here talking about a victory is really satisfying given the fact that just about 10 days ago we had 36 guys that were unavailable to us.”
“In short order to prepare our team and have our guys be selfless and take care of themselves and put themselves in a position to win a football game today, I couldn’t be more proud of our group, our coaches, our support staff.”
“We gave the game ball out to Rob Hunt and Dr. Matt Leiszler. We couldn’t be here today without their extraordinary efforts to get our football team safe and healthy. Just overwhelmed with a sense of I think pride that we have such a great support group that was able to get this group together.”
Kyren Williams Press Conference
Next up for the Fightin’ Irish is the Louisville Cardinals. Louisville will look to avenge their 2019 season opener at home against the Irish. Louisville finished the season strong after playing the Irish. It was definitely a growth game for them. The game will aired on NBC, 2:30 PM EST. You can also listen to the game here.
Cheers and Go Irish ☘🏈🌩
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