Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 23, 2017

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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24 OCT. 23, 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED TURNING POINT Although Notre Dame was never seriously threatened throughout the contest, it wasn't until the opening moments of the second half that it gave itself the breathing room needed to seal North Carolina's fate. With the Irish leading 16-7, soph- omore defensive end Julian Okwara made maybe the best individual play of the game when he tipped a Chazz Surratt pass on the third play of the second half and then intercepted it as well, setting up a 29-yard field goal by Justin Yoon. The coup de grace occurred a few minutes later when a 23-yard punt return by junior Chris Finke, an 11-yard keeper by sophomore quarterback Ian Book and a 35-yard touchdown run by sophomore Deon McIntosh with 6:41 left in the third quarter basically salted away the game against a hurting Tar Heels offense. STAT OF THE GAME Of the 15 possessions that North Carolina had, 10 of them resulted in them either having to punt or losing the ball in three plays or less. The Tar Heels' first five series in the game were three-and-out, in- cluding one where they earned possession at their 49-yard line af- ter a defensive stop. They did not get their initial first down until the eight-minute mark of the first half, and by then Notre Dame had built a 14-0 lead. In the second half, the Fighting Irish defense again forced North Carolina to give up the ball — either via a turnover or punt — in three plays on the Tar Heels' first four se- ries, allowing Notre Dame to stretch its 16-7 halftime advantage to 26-7 by the end of the third quarter. Consequently, Notre Dame domi- nated the time of possession with a 36:32-23:28 advantage. CREDIBILITY KEEPS GROWING Through the first half of the season, Notre Dame appeared to be most re- spected with its 5-1 record because of the hard fought 20-19 loss to Georgia, a bona fide College Football Playoff aspirant. Now, the 38-18 win at Michi- gan State is also looking a lot more impressive after the Spartans stunned No. 7-ranked Michigan in Ann Arbor. The second half of Notre Dame's schedule features the opportunity to defeat several ranked teams, none of which can be deemed clearly supe- rior to the Irish despite a collective 27-6 mark among them. There also likely will be chances to reverse Notre Dame's 1-9 trend in the last 10 games that were decided by one score. This has the look of at least a top- 15 team, and home wins versus USC and NC State would put them into the top 10 entering November. That's when the real fun would begin for a team fueled by the 2016 fiasco. THREE OBSERVATIONS BY LOU SOMOGYI OFFENSE: RB DEON MCINTOSH After junior starter Josh Adams (13 carries for 118 yards and one touchdown) left the game early in the third quarter, the sopho- more McIntosh stepped into the lineup at running back and took control. McIntosh rushed for a career-high 124 yards on just 12 carries, all of which came in the third and fourth quarters. His 35-yard touchdown run gave the Irish breathing room at 26-7 midway through the third quarter, and then his 24-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter put the game away. DEFENSE: DEFENSIVE LINE Several players from the Irish defensive line made a case for player of the game, which is why the entire unit gets the game ball after a thorough shut down of the North Carolina offense. The Tar Heels mustered just 86 yards on the ground (3.1 per rush) and 4.3 yards per pass attempt thanks to a line that was in the backfield all game long, finishing with 2.5 tackles for loss (one of which resulted in a safety), a sack and nine quarterback hurries. UNC redshirt freshman quarterback Chazz Surratt was harassed all game long, leading to a pair of interceptions, seven passes bro- ken up and a fumble. SPECIAL TEAMS: P TYLER NEWSOME With the offense unable to get much going, the defense was aided by the punting of the senior, who averaged 50.0 yards on his six punts in the game. Newsome's final three punts of the first half pinned North Carolina at its 20-yard line or deeper, including a 43-yard boot that was downed at the 1-yard line late in the second quarter. Two plays later, the defense came up with a safety to give the Irish a 16-7 lead at the break. TOP PLAYERS OF THE GAME BY BRYAN DRISKELL Senior end Jay Hayes and the defensive line helped limit the Tar Heels to 86 rushing yards and relentlessly pressured UNC red- shirt freshman quarterback Chazz Surratt throughout the game. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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