Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2019

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

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14 FEBRUARY 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI H istory has often repeated in Notre Dame's football pro‑ gram. Unfortunately the hor‑ rible track record the last 25 years in major bowl games and now College Football Playoff settings (0‑8) had another replication. Virtually identical to six years ear‑ lier, a memorable 12‑0 regular season ended in rubble for Notre Dame with a 30‑3 defeat to Clemson in the Col‑ lege Football Playoff semifinal held at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. An explosive second‑quarter pass‑ ing clinic by Clemson freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence with his playmaking receiving crew saw the Tigers score three touchdowns to build a 23‑3 halftime lead. Despite the absence of star junior defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence be‑ cause of a failed drug test, Clemson's defense dominated with its combi‑ nation of talent and depth, limiting Notre Dame to 248 total yards and its lowest scoring output in the 37 bowl games it has played. Lawrence set a single‑half Cotton Bowl record with 264 passing yards through the first two quarters, and then Clemson salted the game away with a 62‑yard touchdown burst by sophomore running back Travis Eti‑ enne in the third quarter. Although the difference in margin was only one point less than the 42‑14 debacle versus Alabama in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game, head coach Brian Kelly maintained that the overall infrastructure is now stron‑ ger to continue long‑term consistency. "I left that [2013] game feeling like there was so much work to be done from the inside out, so much devel‑ opment, so much recruiting," Kelly said. "This felt so much different — we gave up four big plays that we characteristically don't give up. And we were very capable of moving the football and doing the things neces‑ sary to beat this football team. "They were the better team today. There's no doubt about it. But with now giving them the opportunity to see how they need to play in this atmosphere — not flawless but with excellence — we can come back here and win. It's a real different feeling for me." FIRST QUARTER: NOTRE DAME 3, CLEMSON 3 Top Moment: On Notre Dame's second series, junior quarterback Ian Book fumbled on a scramble that red‑ shirt junior defensive end Clelin Fer‑ rell recovered at Clemson's 47‑yard line. That led to a 30‑yard drive that was capped by a 40‑yard field goal from Greg Huegel with 8:35 left. Notre Dame answered with a 66‑ yard march that concluded with a 28‑yard field goal by senior kicker Justin Yoon at the 4:31 mark. The crucial play came on third‑and‑10 from the Irish 25‑yard line when se‑ nior running back Dexter Williams caught a 16‑yard middle screen from Book. Top Performers: In addition to his fumble recovery, Ferrell recorded a sack. Notre Dame junior defensive end Julian Okwara also had a sack and a pass pressure. Stats: Clemson's 17 plays netted only 45 yards, 10 on the ground, while Trevor Lawrence was 6‑of‑11 passing for 35 yards. Notre Dame totaled 85 yards, 34 rushing on 11 carries, with Book completing 6 of 8 tosses for 51 yards. Items: After Derion Kendrick fumbled the Notre Dame kickoff at 3‑3 and Irish junior Chase Claypool recovered inside the Tigers' 10‑yard line, further review showed the ball had barely touched out of bounds, giving Clemson possession at its 13. SECOND QUARTER: CLEMSON 23, NOTRE DAME 3 Top Moments: Facing third‑and‑14 at Notre Dame's 42 with a 9‑3 lead, Lawrence found fellow freshman Justyn Ross down the seam for a touchdown with 1:44 remaining, ex‑ panding Clemson's lead to 16‑3. That capped an 85‑yard touchdown drive. After a Notre Dame three‑and‑out, Clemson then took possession at its 25‑yard line with 48 seconds left. Instead of running out the clock, it went for the jugular. A 32‑yard com‑ pletion to Hunter Renfrow plus a 15‑ yard roughing‑the‑passer penalty on senior tackle Jerry Tillery set up the scoring play — a 19‑yard jump‑ball touchdown pass to Tee Higgins. He was well covered, and junior quarterback Donte Vaughn even bat‑ ted the ball before Higgins grabbed it with one hand and kept one foot in‑bounds with two seconds left. Top Performer: The Lawrence‑to‑ Ross combination thrived this quar‑ ter. The game's first touchdown was scored when Lawrence's jump ball down the line was grabbed by Ross over Vaughn for a 52‑yard tally a the 12:50 mark. Tillery blocked the extra point to leave the score 9‑3. The pair connected again when junior safety Alohi Gilman was caught in one‑ on‑one coverage down the middle. The duo also connected on a 35‑yard completion on a third‑and‑seven play, but Clemson did not score on that possession. During these 15 minutes of action, Lawrence was 13‑of‑15 passing for 229 yards with three touchdowns. Stats: Notre Dame finished the half with 141 total yards, carrying 17 times for 34 yards and Book totaling 107 passing yards while completing 11 of 20 tosses. The Tigers amassed 306 total yards, 264 via the air. Items: With the score still 3‑3, a fourth‑and‑three Notre Dame pass at Clemson's 34‑yard line was knocked down by redshirt sophomore line‑ backer Isaiah Simmons in one‑on‑one FAMILIAR SCRIPT Clemson's 30-3 rout of the Fighting Irish in the College Football Playoff continues Notre Dame's major bowl drought The Tigers' passing game flourished in the second quarter, with sophomore wideout Tee Higgins and company burning the Irish for 229 yards and three scores through the air to blow the game open. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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