Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 9, 2019

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

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18 NOV. 9, 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI P layoff drama in November won't be at Notre Dame for the first time in three years, but that doesn't mean there can't be inspiring theater on the field. No. 16-ranked Notre Dame (6-2) ral- lied for a dramatic 21-20 victory versus Virginia Tech (5-3) when senior quar- terback Ian Book raced for a seven-yard touchdown off the zone read with 29 seconds remaining. That was followed by the extra point from junior kicker Jonathan Doerer — with a huge as- sist from freshman holder/punter Jay Bramblett, who handled a low snap with aplomb to make the kick possible. The touchdown ended an 87-yard drive that took 18 plays in 2:53 and converted two fourth downs. The first was fourth-and-three from the Irish 20 with a five-yard pass from Book to junior running back Ja- far Armstrong. The second came on fourth-and-10 from the Virginia Tech 33-yard line when Book patiently waited for senior wide receiver Chase Claypool to cross for a 26-yard com- pletion to the 7-yard line. Book tallied the game winner on third-and-goal with a deft move to the outside when it looked like the in- side might be sealed off. The Irish also were out of timeouts at that point. Freshman safety Kyle Hamilton picked off a desperation pass from deep in Virginia Tech territory to seal the win with two seconds remaining. Particularly notable in eking out the win was Notre Dame ranked No. 1 in red-zone offense, yet failed to score three times once it pene- trated the Virginia Tech 20-yard line. It also was No. 7 nationally in turn- over margin while the Hokies were 117th, but the Irish came out on the better end of the score even though they lost the turnover battle (3-2). Overcoming a 98-yard fumble re- turn for a touchdown by Virginia Tech to tie the score with nine sec- onds left until halftime was espe- cially crucial. "That's difficult, but our guys re- sponded," head coach Brian Kelly said of his 17.5-point favored Irish. "We got them back together at half- time, told them they've got to con- tinue to fight, continue to persevere. They did that. Those are all character traits that we're looking for that we needed to see on display. "People are going to look at the win and go, Notre Dame won 21-20 — wow, that's ridiculous. We look at it as a great victory, and we really don't care what anybody else says." FIRST QUARTER: 7-7 Top Moment: A 16-yard punt re- turn by fifth-year senior Chris Finke allowed Notre Dame to begin its third series at the Virginia Tech 26- yard line. An 18-yard completion to Finke by Book was followed by an eight-yard toss over the middle to senior tight end Cole Kmet for the game's first touchdown at the 9:10 mark. Standout Performance: Virginia Tech tied the score 7-7 with 1:15 left on a 45-yard drive in which wideout Damon Hazelton first grabbed a 12- yard pass on fourth-and-four from the Irish 20-yard line, and then on third-and-goal from the 8-yard line snared just in-bounds a back-shoul- der toss from quarterback Quincy Patterson. Prior to that march, the Fighting Irish defense had forced four con- secutive three-and-out series. Stats: Virginia Tech's initial first down came on its fifth drive because of a facemask penalty on junior nose tackle Kurt Hinish. The Hokies had just 45 total yards on 18 plays, while Notre Dame compiled 132 yards on 15 plays. Notes: After both teams started with three-and-out series, Book completed back-to-back 30- and 26- yard passes to Claypool and senior wideout Javon McKinley, respec- tively, but two plays later linebacker Max Hollifield intercepted a Book pass at the 9-yard line … On Notre Dame's fourth series, a third-and- The Drive To Survive Dramatic 87-yard march in 18 plays enables Notre Dame to edge Virginia Tech 21-20 in closing seconds Senior quarterback Ian Book connected on 29 of 53 throws for 341 yards with two touchdowns, and also led the team in rushing with 13 carries for 50 yards and the game-winning touchdown with 29 seconds remaining in the game. PHOTO BY ANDRIS VISOCKIS

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