Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2021

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

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Page 22 of 47 JANUARY 2021 23 they move on and graduate, because it's just been an incredible group of guys to be around on a day-to-day basis, what they've committed to and sacrificed to be playing this year," Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said after the game. "Congratulations to Alabama. They're a fine football team. … Their skill players showed up today as they have all year. "We battled. I thought we did some of the things that we wanted to today. But we simply didn't make enough plays. "We're going to continue to battle, continue to recruit, and continue to put ourselves in this position to win a national championship." FIRST QUARTER ALABAMA 14, NOTRE DAME 0 Top Moment: With Alabama lead- ing 7-0 and facing first down at its 35-yard line, Harris took a sweep right and, after avoiding a stop be- hind the line of scrimmage, did a full hurdle over vertical fifth-year senior cornerback Nick McCloud for a 53-yard run. On the next play, Jones found tight end Jahleel Billingsley for a 12-yard touchdown to conclude a 97-yard march and make it 14-0 with 4:19 remaining. Feature Performer: Jones com- pleted 8 of 9 passes for 97 yards with two touchdowns, while Harris had three carries for 79 yards. Stats: Alabama's 12 plays net- ted 176 yards. Notre Dame had 105 yards, with 15 carries for 62 yards and 2-of-4 passing by Book for 33 yards. Items: Alabama forced a fumble by freshman Chris Tyree on the open- ing kickoff that Irish sophomore line- backer Jack Kiser recovered at the Irish 8-yard line. After a Notre Dame punt, Alabama drove 79 yards in seven plays, culminated by a 26-yard screen on a run-pass option to Smith with 10:14 left. Jones completed 5 of 6 passes for 68 yards during the march. … When the quarter ended, Notre Dame had driven 50 yards to the Alabama 20-yard line. SECOND QUARTER ALABAMA 21, NOTRE DAME 7 Top Moment: Notre Dame pulled to within 14-7 on a one-yard touch- down run by sophomore running back Kyren Williams with 11:16 left to end a 75-yard drive that took 15 plays and, most notably, 8:03 time of possession. The Irish converted on three third-down situations of three yards or less, and the score came on fourth down. The big play was the first, a 27-yard screen to Tyree. Feature Performer: Notre Dame's offensive line asserted itself, espe- cially on the eight-minute drive. Ala- bama's Jones finished the half 14 of 16 for 182 yards with three scores. Stats: Alabama had 279 yards of total offense at halftime, while Notre Dame had 189 with Book completing 10 of 15 passes for 84 yards. The 105 rushing yards on 24 carries were led by Williams' 56 on 14 attempts. Items: After Notre Dame's score, Alabama answered with a touch- down in five plays, a 34-yard slant to Smith at the 8:49 mark. Two plays earlier Smith went 24 yards on a screen on that 84-yard drive. … On Alabama's fourth and final posses- sion of the first half, Notre Dame made a stop on third-and-12 from the Crimson Tide 44, forcing a punt with 51 seconds left. Notre Dame drove to Alabama's 33-yard line, but a 51-yard field goal attempt by senior Jonathan Doerer fell short. … Late on the Irish touchdown drive, junior Tommy Tremble suffered an ankle sprain that sidelined him the rest of the game. THIRD QUARTER ALABAMA 28, NOTRE DAME 7 Top Moment: Trailing only 21-7, Notre Dame had second-and-seven at its 37-yard line when Book's under- thrown pass on a roll out to fresh- man tight end Michael Mayer was intercepted by sophomore linebacker Christian Harris at his 38-yard line. On the first play thereafter, Jones found sophomore wideout John Metchie III on a slant for 40 yards, and then scrambled for nine yards on third-and-four from his 16. One play later, he found Smith past the right corner pylon for his third score and a 28-7 cushion with 4:58 remaining. Feature Performer: Jones com- pleted 6 of 7 passes for 76 yards, plus had the crucial nine-yard scramble for a first down on the lone scoring drive. Stats: Notre Dame had only 25 yards of total offense in the third quarter while Alabama had 129. Items: Notre Dame's defense opened the second half with a cru- cial stop after Alabama crossed mid- field, forcing a punt on fourth-and-19 to the 10-yard line. The Irish then picked up 27 yards before Harris' interception … On the next Irish se- ries, Book was sacked by redshirt sophomore defensive end Christian Barmore for a 14-yard loss and was temporarily sidelined while fresh- man Drew Pyne took two snaps in his place. FOURTH QUARTER ALABAMA 31, NOTRE DAME 14 Top Moment: Book tallied the game's final score on a quarterback keeper around left end on fourth- and-goal from the 1-yard line with 56 seconds remaining. Notre Dame senior rover Jeremiah Owusu-Kora- moah then recovered the onside kick The Fighting Irish could not stop Alabama's All- American wide receiver DeVonta Smith, who caught seven passes for 130 yards and three touchdowns. PHOTO COURTESY COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF

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