Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 26, 2018

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

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Page 20 of 55 NOV. 26, 2018 21 BY LOU SOMOGYI W hat was advertised as a po- tential shootout in Yankee Stadium for the Shamrock Series turned into a shut- down instead. At least it did for Syracuse. Propelled by a relentless defense that recorded six sacks and three in- terceptions, No. 3 Notre Dame im- proved to 11-0 and is one step short of the four-team College Football Playoff following a resounding 36-3 crushing of No. 12 Syracuse, which dropped to 8-3. The Orange entered the contest ranked seventh nationally in scor- ing offense with an average of 44.4 points per game, but its lone tally came on a 28-yard field goal with 10 seconds left in the contest. Syracuse managed only 122 total yards through three quarters and fin- ished with 234 for the game. It espe- cially had no answers after standout senior quarterback Eric Dungey was injured on his third series in the first quarter. Two interceptions in the second quarter by junior safety Alohi Gil- man, along with eight tackles and strong special teams play, earned him the game ball. "I really liked our plan going in," Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly said of the defense. "I liked the struc- ture of it, I liked what we were doing during the week. I liked the focus of our defense. They really trusted what we were doing. "If we were going to play with dis- cipline, which we did, I felt like we were going to have great success." Junior quarterback Ian Book, back in the lineup after missing the Florida State game the week prior with an injury, completed 23 of 37 passes for 292 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Junior wide receiver Chase Claypool snared six passes for 98 yards and a score, while senior wideout Miles Boykin nabbed seven for 76 yards. Senior running back Dexter Wil- liams rushed for 74 yards on 13 car- ries and capped the Irish scoring with a 32-yard run late in the fourth quarter. As for inquiries on how his Irish would stack up against No. 1 Alabama or No. 2 Clemson, Kelly brushed them off. "We're not interested in being com- pared," he said. "All we want to do is play our best football when we get to November. "We're playing really, really well, especially on defense … I think the only message that we would like to get out is we're playing pretty good football." FIRST QUARTER: NOTRE DAME 13, SYRACUSE 0 Top Moment: With 5:44 left and the Irish leading 10-0, Dungey ran for four yards, rose back up briefly but then doubled over in pain on the right side of his upper body. He was replaced by Tommy DeVito, and the redshirt freshman would play the rest of the game. Top Performer: The Irish pass- ing attack was prolific, with Book completing 11 of 15 attempts for 169 yards. Senior tight end Alizé Mack had three catches for 55 yards and Claypool two for 60 yards. Stats: Notre Dame had 189 total yards on 24 plays, while Syracuse's 15 plays netted only 59. The Orange were 1-of-6 passing for 10 yards. Items: With the game scoreless, Notre Dame faced third-and-15 at its 45-yard when a toss over the middle by Book to junior running back Tony Jones Jr. gained 18 yards … Claypool then grabbed a 27-yard pass from Book, and two plays later the quar- terback found Williams crossing the middle the way he did with Jones for a nine-yard touchdown to conclude a 55-yard drive with 9:15 left … On the first play of Syracuse's second possession, Elliott intercepted a slant tossed by Dungey that he returned 24 yards to the Orange 15, setting up a 26-yard field goal by senior kicker Justin Yoon for a 10-0 advantage at the 7:44 mark … Yoon kicked his sec- ond field goal, from 29 yards, at 1:09, which was set up by a 33-yard toss to Claypool and a 47-yarder to Mack. SECOND QUARTER: NOTRE DAME 20, SYRACUSE 0 Top Moment: Trailing 13-0, Syra- cuse was driving and appeared to complete a pass to freshman wide receiver Taj Harris, but Gilman raked at the ball, forcing it to come loose, and then intercepted it and returned it 54 yards to the Syracuse 9-yard line. On the next play, sophomore running back Jafar Armstrong took a misdirection handoff and went un- touched for the score and a 20-0 lead with 4:52 remaining until the half. Top Performer: In addition to the 54-yard interception return, Gilman recorded his initial pick on the first play of the quarter on a deep pass by DeVito. Gilman read the play, and then timed his leap and catch per- fectly at the Irish 16-yard line. Stats: The 37 Syracuse plays in the first half totaled only 130 yards, most notably 5-of-18 passing for only 35 yards with three interceptions. Con- versely, Book connected on 18 of 29 throws for 253 yards for the Irish, and the running attack added 52 yards on 18 carries. Items: Syracuse's second posses- sion of the quarter ended near mid- field on a sack by sophomore nose tackle Kurt Hinish … With the score still 13-0, Notre Dame had fourth- and-goal at the 1-yard line when a slipping Book forced a pop pass into the end zone that was intercepted by safety Andre Cisco, his sixth of the season, with 6:50 left. THIRD QUARTER: NOTRE DAME 29, SYRACUSE 0 Top Moment: With 3:35 remain- ing, Notre Dame concluded a 51-yard drive when on third-and-six, Book connected with a well-covered Clay- ORANGE CRUSHED Undefeated Notre Dame's defense dominates during a 36-3 romp of No. 12 Syracuse The Fighting Irish racked up six sacks against Syracuse's potent offense, including 1.5 by soph- omore nose tackle Kurt Hinish. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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