In a workmanlike performance, Notre Dame (5-1) dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage while defeating North Carolina (1-5) for its fourth consecutive victory by at least 20 points.
With sophomore quarterback Ian Book — 17 of 31 for 146 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, plus 45 yards rushing on 12 carries — making his first career start while junior Brandon Wimbush rested an injured foot, the Irish leaned on their No. 7-ranked rushing attack to control the action.
Notre Dame out-rushed the Tar Heels 341-86 and held the ball 13 more minutes while forcing North Carolina into 10 series where it had the ball three plays or less. Sophomore running back Deon McIntosh carried 12 times for 124 yards and tallied on 35- and 24-yard touchdown runs to pace the ground attack. Junior Josh Adams had 13 carries for 118 yards, highlighted by a 73-yard scoring run — his sixth run this season of at least 59 yards.
Meanwhile, the Irish defensive line controlled the action against an injury ravaged North Carolina team that seldom got untracked and didn’t pick up a first down until its sixth series. Redshirt freshman quarterback Chazz Surratt played valiantly but was harassed throughout the afternoon, finishing 19 of 42 passing for 179 yards a touchdown and an interception. Notre Dame also generated three turnovers.
FIRST QUARTER: 0-0
Top Moment: The Irish ended the quarter facing second-and-goal at the North Carolina six-yard line after driving 74 yards and converting two short third-down situations.
Top Performer: The Notre Dame defense forced three-and-outs on all three North Carolina possessions, allowing only seven yards total offense on nine plays. Most significant of these three series was when the Tar Heels began a drive at their 49 after making a fourth-down stop.
Stats: The Irish started their four drives at the 19-, 17-, 10- and 20-yard lines before getting untracked on the final series.
Items: North Carolina stuffed a Book quarterback sneak on fourth-and-one to take possession at its 49 with 6:08 left in the quarter, but the Tar Heels were unable to take advantage, losing three yards on three plays before punting. Junior Irish nickel Shaun Crawford recorded an eight-yard sack to begin that drive.
SECOND QUARTER: Notre Dame 16, North Carolina 7
Top Moment: With 12:38 left, Adams took a handoff through the left side and rambled for a 73-yard touchdown to give Notre Dame a 14-0 cushion. Prior to that scamper, Adams’ nine runs totaled 33 yards.
Top Performer: Despite losing a fumble during the quarter, Surratt kept the Tar Heels within striking distance by completing 5 of his 14 passes in the quarter for 82 yards while facing much duress from the Notre Dame defense. On third-and-10 he connected on a 25-yard touchdown to Anthony Ratliff-Williams with 1:50 left to narrow the deficit to 14-7. Surratt also carried seven times for 41 yards, totaling 123 yards total offense in the second quarter.
Stats: Notre Dame ran the ball 26 times for 154 yards in the first half and completed 14 of 25 passes for 122 yards (and an interception), amassing 276 yards on 51 plays. North Carolina compiled 150 yards total offense the first 30 minutes — 8 of 20 passing for 96 yards and 16 carries for 54 yards.
Items: On the first play of the quarter, Book completed his first career touchdown pass on a six-yard roll-out to fifth-year senior Cameron Smith who ran a crossing route … With the Irish up 14-0, North Carolina drove to Notre Dame’s 19 before Surratt lost the football while attempting a pass, and sophomore defensive end Khalid Kareem returned it to Notre Dame’s 46… North Carolina took possession at its one-yard line with 38 seconds left and the score 14-7. Instead of running out the clock, it tried a deep pass and then on second down from the shotgun running back Jordan Brown was engulfed in the end zone by senior end Jay Hayes and junior nose tackle Jerry Tillery for a safety with only 28 seconds remaining to up the Irish advantage to 16-7.
THIRD QUARTER: Notre Dame 26, North Carolina 7
Top Moment: After a season-high 23-yard punt return by junior Chris Finke set up the Irish at the North Carolina 46-yard line, McIntosh, on a play similar to Adams’ score, found a hole through the left side for a 35-yard touchdown and a 26-7 lead with 6:41 left.
Top Performer: Junior kicker Justin Yoon put all three kickoffs in the quarter into the end zone for touchbacks and converted a 29-yard field goal.
Stats: Notre Dame ran 15 plays in the quarter for 81 yards, highlighted by McIntosh’s score. North Carolina’s 25 plays netted 66 yards
Items: On the third play of the half, sophomore defensive end Julian Okwara tipped a Surratt pass and then intercepted it, returning the ball to the Tar Heels 16. It resulted in a 29-yard field goal by Yoon for a 19-7 lead at the 11:15 mark. … Sophomore Irish drop end Daelin Hayes recorded a sack ... Tar Heels safety Myles Dorn recorded his second interception of a Book pass with 8:15 left.
FOURTH QUARTER: Notre Dame 33, North Carolina 10
Top Moment: McIntosh scored his second touchdown of the game behind the left side on a 24-yard jaunt with 9:05 left to extend Notre Dame’s lead to 33-10.
Top Performer: During the lone touchdown drive of the quarter, McIntosh accounted for 61 yards rushing on the 75-yard march, carrying seven times. He later added a 17-yard run.
Stats: Notre Dame finished with 487 yards total offense on 88 plays, notably 341 yards rushing and 6.0 yards per carry. North Carolina ended with 265 yards total offense, 179 passing and only 86 rushing.
Items: Senior Irish rover Drue Tranquill stripped freshman Tar Heels tight end Beau Corrales from the football on a pass completion at the Notre Dame 38 near the seven-minute mark to record Notre Dame’s third turnover … North Carolina’s score came on a 34-yard field goal by Freeman Jones with 14:11 remaining.