Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 27, 2021

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

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Page 24 of 55 NOV. 27, 2021 25 MYRON TAGOVAILOA-AMOSA CAPS GAME, CAREER WITH FIRST TOUCHDOWN Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa did his best Kyren Williams impression. About 25 yards into his fumble scoop- up and sprint, the graduate student de- fensive end shifted the ball to his right hand as he felt a pursuer coming up on his left. He wanted to free his left hand to throw a stiff-arm. For a lineman who rarely touches the ball, it all looked unusually natural. And whether his arm, senior defensive tackle Jayson Ademilola's partial block or the turf monster sent Georgia Tech running back turned defender Jordan Mason to the ground, it worked. Tagovailoa- Amosa rumbled the rest of the way into the end zone, with Ademilola right be- hind him, for his first career touchdown. This 70-yard fumble return in his presumed final home game is a memory he will cherish for the rest of his life. It was also a bold-faced exclamation point on Notre Dame's most dominant performance of the year. The No. 8 Irish (10-1) beat Georgia Tech 55-0, their largest margin of vic- tory in a shutout since 1996. Tago- vailoa-Amosa's score came with 4:50 remaining in the third quarter and put a bow on the wire-to-wire blowout. Notre Dame's defense scored two touchdowns as part of it. That's two more than it has allowed in the last three games. A unit that scuffled to start the season has surged down the stretch. "I feel like at the beginning of the year, it was a little bit of adjustment from [former defensive coordinator Clark] Lea to [current coordinator Marcus] Freeman, but we finally got it together," junior defensive end Isaiah Foskey said. "I don't know the game that sparked it to play Coach Freeman football, but this was the game we put it all on display." But back to Tagovailoa-Amosa, who did not record one of Notre Dame's six sacks yet was consistently disruptive all afternoon. He had two quarterback hurries and blocked a field goal attempt at the end of the first half. It was an em- phatic return from a battle with the flu that sidelined him during the 28-3 win at Virginia Nov. 13. Someone had to set him up for the touchdown though. Enter Foskey, who burst off the edge unblocked and forced Georgia Tech quarterback Jordan Yates to stop his roll out on a bootleg and backpedal. Yates spun around, hoping to unload a throwaway. As he wound up, Foskey smacked the ball out of his hands and onto the turf. Tagovailoa-Amosa was the closest man to it. "I just saw during that whole play the back of the quarterback, so I just went up the field and tried to tackle him," Fo- skey said. "I just went for the ball, got the ball, and got Myron the touchdown." Two years earlier, in a game against Virginia, a touchdown eluded Tago- vailoa-Amosa on a similar play. He snagged a fumble out of midair on a sack and took off, with no barrier between him and the end zone. He was tackled seven yards shy of it, though, because the quarterback caught him from behind. "He wasn't quite fast enough, so we always made fun of him for that," junior defensive tackle Howard Cross III said. "Just seeing him do that, it was really crazy, and everyone loved that." Tagovailoa-Amosa is 15 pounds lighter than he was in 2019, a weight loss prompted by his offseason switch from tackle to end. It might've made the differ- ence. Foskey's downfield block on Yates and discard of him into wide receiver/ oncoming pursuer Kyric McGowan re- moved all doubt. Tagovailoa-Amosa, Fo- skey and Ademilola reached the end zone together and started a dance party. "I knew as soon as he took it, he was definitely going to make this," Cross said. "It's perfect for him. Seeing him stiff-arm, it's icing on the cake." NOTRE DAME HONORS SENIOR CLASS Notre Dame recognized 26 scholarship seniors and graduate students before the game, calling each one by name to run out of the tunnel, pose for a picture with head coach Brian Kelly and jog out to midfield. It looked like any ordinary Senior Day. Except, it's anything but, because nearly all the senior class has eligibility for 2022. Some of the seniors redshirted and had fifth-year options all along. Others were granted fifth or sixth seasons when the NCAA passed the COVID-19 blanket waiver that gave all 2020 athletes an extra year of eligibility. Quarterback Jack Coan, kicker Jonathan Doerer, nose tackle Kurt Hinish and guard Cain Madden are the only seniors who are out of eligibility. Notre Dame will learn after the sea- son who comes back for a fifth year that was previously available, who wants to return using the COVID-19 exemption, how many fifth- or sixth-year seniors GEORGIA TECH GAME NOTES BY PATRICK ENGEL Tagovailoa-Amosa scored his first career touchdown by scooping up a fumble and returning it 70 yards. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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