Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 17, 2018

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 19 of 55

20 SEPT. 17, 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI S o much for breathers on the 2018 Notre Dame schedule. It was more like taking a deep breath and letting out a gasp of relief when the No. 8-ranked Fighting Irish hung on to a 24-16 vic- tory versus Ball State, the designated blowout game on the slate. Favored by Las Vegas oddsmak- ers to crush the Mid-American Con- ference foe by five touchdowns, the Fighting Irish clung to a 14-6 halftime lead and needed fifth-year senior rover and team captain Drue Tran- quill to secure a bouncing on-side kick with 1:30 remaining to emerge with the win. Ball State ran 97 plays, the most ever against a Notre Dame team. "Ball State did a great job of com- ing into this game and doing exactly what they needed to do — possess the football," Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said. "They ate up clock, and they did the things neces- sary to be in a position to compete. They did a great job. "Their preparation was great. Their coaching was better." Senior quarterback Brandon Wim- bush completed 17 of 31 passes for a career-high 297 yards, but also tossed three interceptions while under con- sistent duress. Meanwhile, the Fight- ing Irish running attack netted only 117 yards despite getting 42 on their first attempt, by sophomore running back Jafar Armstrong (13 carries for 66 yards). Junior Tony Jones Jr. (13 carries for 61 yards) scored two touchdowns, but Notre Dame was unable to cross the goal line over the final 25:37 of the contest. Junior safety Jalen Elliott's two in- terceptions highlighted the defensive effort, while senior linebacker Te'von Coney recorded a team-high 14 tack- les (10 solo), including three for loss and a sack. "The first thing I tell them when we come in is you can never apolo- gize for winning," Kelly said. "I did a poor job preparing you. You have to bring the energy necessary to play this game. "It's not chess. It's football. It re- quires an energy that may have been lacking, so let's look at why that wasn't there." FIRST QUARTER: NOTRE DAME 7, BALL STATE 3 Top Moment: Notre Dame opened the game with a 27-yard pass off a pump fake from Wimbush to se- nior wide receiver Chris Finke, and Armstrong followed with a 42-yard run prior to his one-yard score three plays later. Standout Performer: Coney re- corded six tackles, including two for loss and a sack. Stats: Ball State possessed the ball 10:01 to Notre Dame's 4:59, but the Irish had 114 yards of total offense (60 rushing and 54 passing) to the Cardinals' 90 (64 passing and 26 rushing). Items: Ball State reduced its deficit to 7-3 with 6:17 left when it used 19 plays to drive 85 yards and set up a 25-yard Morgan Hagee field goal. The drive used 6:48. SECOND QUARTER: NOTRE DAME 14, BALL STATE 6 Top Moment: With the Irish lead- ing only 7-3 and Ball State facing third-and-four at its 33, a Riley Neal pass across the middle was well covered by senior nickel Nick Cole- man, leading to a tipped pass that Elliott intercepted and returned 11 yards to the Ball State 31. On the next play, Jones broke through a massive opening on the left side for a 31-yard touchdown with 8:14 left. Standout Performer: Other than the 31-yard romp by Armstrong, the Ball State defense limited Notre Dame to 99 yards on the 22 plays spread out over the four other pos- sessions. That kept it a one-score game at the intermission. Especially notable was Notre Dame was 0 of 4 on third-down conversions during the quarter. Stats: Notre Dame entered halftime with 37 plays for 245 yards, rushing 20 times for 103 yards and Wimbush completing 8 of 17 throws for 142 yards with an interception. Ball State ran 50 first-half plays for 166 yards. It rushed 24 times for 93 yards, while Neal completed 10 of 26 passes for 73 yards with an interception. Items: Notre Dame drove to Ball State's 12 yard line, but lost 16 yards on two plays, setting up a missed 43- yard field goal by senior Justin Yoon at the 12:16 mark … On its next series, Notre Dame eschewed the field goal attempt on fourth-and-eight from the Cardinals' 27, but Wimbush's pass fell incomplete … With 2:30 left, Hagee kicked his second field goal for Ball State to end a 13-play, 36-yard drive and pull within 14-6. THIRD QUARTER: NOTRE DAME 24, BALL STATE 6 Top Moment: After Elliott's sec- ond interception of the contest was returned 10 yards to the Notre Dame 44-yard line, Wimbush completed all three passes for 44 yards before Jones' one-yard scoring run helped lift the Irish to a 21-6 lead with 10:37 remaining. Standout Performer: The combina- tion of Wimbush to senior wideout Miles Boykin connected on 17- and 14-yard gains on the touchdown drive. They also hooked up on 26-, 23- and 19-yard completions for 99 yards total during the quarter. They almost had a sixth connection, but a tipped pass that bounced off Boykin was intercepted by Ball State at the 8:56 mark. Stats: Notre Dame totaled 369 yards after three quarters (272 passing and 97 rushing), while Ball State had 242 (142 rushing and 100 passing). Items: Notre Dame's lead was ex- tended to 24-6 when Yoon converted a 46-yard field with 2:01 left. FOURTH QUARTER: NOTRE DAME 24, BALL STATE 16 Top Moment: After Hagee's 49- yard field goal pulled Ball State within 24-16 with 1:30 left, the on- Senior linebacker Te'von Coney led another solid defensive performance for the Irish, notching a team-high 14 tackles (10 solo). PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA SIGH OF RELIEF No. 8 Notre Dame hangs on to defeat scrappy Ball State, 24-16

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Sept. 17, 2018