Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 19, 2020

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

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20 SEPT. 19, 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI I n the COVID-19 world of "The New Normal," Notre Dame's season-opening 27-13 victory versus Duke required a heavy dose of what has been a mandate the last six months — patience. The Fighting Irish trailed 3-0 at the end of the first quarter, held a 10-6 advantage at the half and entered the fourth quarter with a precarious 17-13 lead against the 20.5-point un- derdog Blue Devils. They closed with a 10-0 run on a 17-yard touchdown pass on third- and-10 from fifth-year senior quar- terback Ian Book to senior slot re- ceiver Avery Davis, who outfought his defender in the end zone for the score, followed by a 34-yard field goal by senior kicker Jonathan Do- erer with 5:21 remaining. On a drizzly day, Doerer also con- verted his only other field goal, from 48 yards, as the first half expired to give Notre Dame a 10-6 cushion. Sophomore running back Kyren Williams — who earned the game ball — accounted for 205 total yards, accumulating 112 on the ground on 19 carries, highlighted by one- and 26-yard touchdown runs to lead the Notre Dame offense that sputtered early before picking up the pace. Williams also caught two passes for 93 yards, although a 75-yard gain was squandered with an intercep- tion thrown into the end zone by Book on the next play. Defensively, senior rover Jere- miah Owusu-Koramoah paced the attack with nine tackles (six solo), two stops for loss, one sack, and a crucial forced fumble. Sophomore reserve defensive end Isaiah Foskey also was a huge factor with his pass pressure that included a sack. Minus spring practice and three straight practices in August that had to be canceled because of a brief spike of the coronavirus on campus, the slow start did not surprise head coach Brian Kelly. "My expectation is it was going to be a process that we just had to be patient, and you saw we were patient and we stuck with what we were doing and we had to make some adjustments at halftime," Kelly said. "I thought we looked like the team we should have in the sec- ond half after we made some adjust- ments and settled into some things." A pleasant surprise was the en- thusiasm generated by the 10,097 in attendance. "I was expecting it to be an in- tersquad scrimmage," Kelly said. "That was a great environment. Our students created this for our guys, and they said this to me, they were overjoyed in the sense that it felt like a football game." FIRST QUARTER DUKE, 3-0 Top Moment: The Blue Devils' second possession was highlighted by a 55-yard catch and run on a slant — after what appeared to be an il- legal pick that did not get flagged — by sophomore wide receiver Eli Pancol to Notre Dame's 8-yard line. The drive stalled and resulted in a 29-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Charlie Ham for a 3-0 lead with 7:01 remaining. F e a t u r e P e r f o r m e r : D u k e ' s stacked defense up front forced Notre Dame into three-and-out se- ries on the first three possessions, and the Irish totaled only seven yards on 10 plays. This included two sacks of Book. Stats: Duke racked up 151 yards (112 passing and 39 rushing) on 25 plays while possessing the ball 10:17 to Notre Dame's 4:43. Book completed only 1 of 3 passes for 10 yards, and the Irish finished with minus-three rushing yards with the two sacks. Items: On the game's opening se- ries, Duke drove 45 yards to Notre Dame's 39-yard line, but a short pass by redshirt junior quarterback Chase Brice on fourth-and-two was broken up by sophomore safety Kyle Hamilton … Foskey had two pass pressures that resulted in in- complete passes. SECOND QUARTER NOTRE DAME, 10-6 Top Moment: Trailing 3-0 and fac- ing fourth-and-eight from his 21- yard line, sophomore punter Jay Bramblett faked the kick and on a sweep made a needed cutback for a 14-yard gain. It was a clutch con- version on a 96-yard touchdown drive that included a 13-yard run by Williams (plus a 15-yard facemask penalty added on) and a 20-yard screen to senior running back Jafar Armstrong before Williams broke a tackle in the backfield to score on a one-yard run with 10:39 remaining. Feature Performer: With fifth- year senior wideout Ben Skowronek injured (hamstring), junior Joe Wilkins Jr. took his place and caught three passes for 33 yards during a 54-yard drive that set up Doerer 's 48-yard field goal as time expired in the first half. Stats: Duke ran 42 plays in the first half for 246 yards (195 passing and 51 rushing), while Notre Dame ended up with 228 yards (185 pass- ing and 43 rushing) on 35 plays. Items: Duke narrowed its deficit to 7-6 with 3:20 left on a 30-yard field goal by Ham. The Blue Devils had second down at Notre Dame's 3-yard line on that march, but on third down Foskey recorded a sack … On the next series, a 75-yard tun- nel screen to Notre Dame's Williams went for naught when on the next play a high pass by Book resulted in an end-zone interception by redshirt junior safety Lummie Young IV. THIRD QUARTER NOTRE DAME, 17-13 Top Moment: On Duke's initial possession, sophomore wideout Jalon Calhoun picked up a first down on A Return To 'Normal' Notre Dame overcomes slow start to defeat Duke 27-13 in season opener Sophomore running back Kyren Williams rushed for 112 yards and two scores, plus added 93 yards on two catches, en route to a game-high 205 total offense yards. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

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