Notre Dame exploded for 24 points in a ten minute stretch of the second half to pull away from Boston College and coast to a 40-7 victory. The Irish defense did its part by smothering the Eagle running game and forcing two turnovers that Ian Book turned into touchdown passes. The win improves Notre Dame’s record to 9-2 with a trip to Stanford remaining next week followed by a yet to be determined bowl game.
The Irish started slowly as penalties and dropped passes limited them to a pair of field goals in their first three possessions. Boston College got on the board for the first and only time midway through the second quarter when Dennis Grosel hit Kobay White on a long pass to set up a Grosel touchdown run.
Trailing 7-6, Book was able to overcome more self-inflicted wounds by Notre Dame on the ensuing series. After another penalty and a dropped third down pass, Book converted on fourth down in Eagle territory before hitting Chase Claypool for a score to retake the lead. Jonathan Doerer added another of his four field goals just before the half to extend the advantage to 16-7.
Doerer opened the second half scoring with his last field goal before the defense exerted itself over the out-manned Eagles. Khalid Kareem forced a fumble that linebacker Drew White recovered in Boston College territory, and Book cashed in with a scoring strike to Cole Kmet at the 3:44 mark of the third period.
Notre Dame quickly got the ball back, and Braden Lenzy scored just two minutes later to make it 33-7. In what has become his signature play, Lenzy took off on a reverse around left end and dodged tacklers down the sideline for a 61-yard touchdown.
Freshman Kyle Hamilton set up the only points of the final stanza when he intercepted a Grosel pass and returned it to the BC 12-yard line. Book then added his third scoring pass of the day, finding Chris Finke in the back of the end zone for the 40-7 margin of victory.
Boston College started the game by playing aggressively and keeping Notre Dame off balance until the Irish adjusted to their blitzing style. Book began to find his receivers and also added 66 rushing yards to lead the team. The Eagles visibly tired in the third quarter on both sides of the ball, and did not cross midfield in the second half.
Book finished with 26 completions in 40 attempts for 260 yards, while the team ran for 252 more. Grosel was held to a nine of 20 passing performance for a mere 63 yards, 39 of which came on the deep pass to White. The Irish also held BC’s vaunted rushing duo of A.J. Dillon and David Bailey to a combined 82 yards. Grosel managed to scramble for 45 more while being chased by Kareem and Ade Ogundeji.
The only area of concern on this Senior Day celebration was the injuries that have taken a toll on the defensive line. Tackle Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa (leg) and Kareem (shoulder) had to be helped off the field, while Jayson Amendiola, Julian Okwara and Daelin Hayes are already out of action.
Let’s take a look at the answers to our pregame questions:
Will Boston College be able to run for their season average of 282 yards per game? Not even close. The Eagles were held to 128 yards on the ground and just 191 overall.
Can the Irish offense achieve balance and keep the Eagles guessing? Yes. Notre Dame earned over 500 yards, which were almost evenly split between rushing and passing.
Which defense will best be able to get a stop on third down? The Irish settled in after BC’s lone scoring drive to stuff the Eagles at every turn.
Can Notre Dame win the turnover battle against the stingy Eagles? The hosts didn’t commit a turnover and forced two costly second half giveaways by the Eagles.
Which special teams will have a positive impact on the outcome? Doerer was the star of the game for nearly three quarters by drilling four of four field goal attempts, including no-doubters from 45 and 47 yards. Chris Finke also impressed in his role as the punt return man.
Can the Irish match the emotional intensity that Addazio expects BC to bring? BC’s physical play caused some early anxiety among Irish fans, but Notre Dame took control by halftime and were not threatened thereafter.
Will cable subscribers who don’t get NBCSN have to use the mute button on Flutie? Who doesn’t love to see Flutie describe his 1984 Hail Mary pass another five or six times?
The Irish hope to assemble enough able bodied defensive linemen to defeat Stanford next Saturday and finish the season at 10-2. Looking back, the game at Georgia was winnable and no one is sure just what the hell happened in Ann Arbor, but the team can finish on a high note and hopefully win a bowl game against a quality opponent.
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