Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2022

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

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Page 20 of 47 DECEMBER 2022 21 BY TYLER HORKA T he chants weren't deafening, and they definitely weren't in unison, but they were heard. And they were warranted. It's not every year a crowd gets to belt them. Hence, the disharmony at times. Regardless, they were impactful and impossible to ignore. "Heis-man! Heis-man! Heis-man!" It's been 17 years since Southern Cal could claim it boasted the best player in college football on its roster. Was the crowd of 72,613 at the Los Angeles Coliseum a bit premature in coronat- ing quarterback Caleb Williams with its serenading? Perhaps. But even Williams felt the magnitude of the moment in the Trojans' 38-27 victory over Notre Dame. He struck a Heisman Trophy pose after one of his 3 rushing scores that went along with 1 passing touchdown and 267 yards of total offense. Williams has had several more pro- lific games than that from a total offense standpoint. That's what put him in a po- sition to receive such fanfare. And he was still by far the most influential figure in the No. 6 Trojans (11-1) beating the No. 15 Irish (8-4) for the first time since 2016. "You see it happen over and over all year, his ability to feel pressure and spin out of it; we told our guys, 'He's going to spin. He's going to spin,'" Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman said. "He's elusive, man. He uses his legs. He's like a running back out there at times." Southern Cal had senior running back Austin Jones rushed for 154 yards on 25 carries for good measure. Notre Dame was credited for 90 yards on 26 carries as an entire team. The Trojans flipped the Irish's script in the ground game, and it was a major determining factor in the outcome. Junior quarterback Drew Pyne had one of his better games of the year for the Irish, completing 23 of 26 passes for 318 yards with 3 touchdown passes, but he was intercepted once and lost a fumble. Southern Cal scored 14 points off those turnovers. There were several reasons why Notre Dame did not spring an upset of a team that's one win away from the College Football Playoff. Costly giveaways. Los- ing the war in the trenches. One stands 6 feet and 1 inch above all else, though. Williams. "He's the best quarterback in the country," Jones said. FIRST QUARTER SOUTHERN CAL 10, NOTRE DAME 0 Top Moment: Pyne found sopho- more running back Audric Estime all alone in the flat for an easy catch-and- run gain of 30 yards late in the quarter. Feature Performer: Senior defen- sive end Isaiah Foskey sacked Williams for a loss of 6 yards to force a third- and-26. It was Foskey's 26th career sack, upping his total to 10.5 this season. Foskey also forced a fumble earlier in the frame, but the Trojans recovered it. Stats: Southern Cal outgained Notre Dame 127 to 54 in total yards. The Tro- jans possessed the ball for 9:15 and did not have to punt. They averaged 7.9 yards per play to the Irish's 6.0. Items: Southern Cal drove down the field with ease to open the scoring on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Williams to wide receiver Tahj Washington; the drive included a 31-yard gain on a pass from Williams to Lake McCree on third-and-2 … Notre Dame went three and out on its first possession with three consecutive rushing attempts for sophomore tailback Logan Diggs … The Irish got stingy in the red zone to force a 31-yard field goal, pre- venting a two-touchdown deficit. SECOND QUARTER SOUTHERN CAL 17, NOTRE DAME 7 Top Moment: Pyne connected with sophomore wide receiver Deion Colzie on third-and-10 for a gain of 30. Three players later, he found junior tight end Michael Mayer in the end zone on a 22- yard touchdown. Fea t u re Pe r fo r m e r : P y n e wa s 6-of-6 passing for 71 yards with 1 touchdown in the second quarter. Stats: Notre Dame outgained South- ern Cal 89 to 84 in total yards. Only 18 of those yards came on the ground for the Irish. The Trojans still possessed the ball for 8:25. Notre Dame averaged 6.4 yards per play to Southern Cal's 5.3. Items: Sophomore tight end Mitchell Evans was denied the line to gain on a quarterback sneak for the first time all season … Foskey recorded another half- sack … The first of 3 Williams rushing touchdowns came with just 39 seconds left before halftime; Southern Cal went 75 yards in 10 plays to take 5:40 off the clock, effectively ensuring Notre Dame would not get another chance to score before the half. THIRD QUARTER SOUTHERN CAL 24, NOTRE DAME 14 Top Moment: Colzie scored his first career touchdown on a 23-yard strike from Pyne, who efficiently went through his progressions before firing to Colzie in the corner of the end zone. Feature Performer: It had to be Wil- liams, who made the most spectacular play of the game on a 19-yard catch-me- Williams accounted for 267 yards of total offense (235 passing and 35 rushing) and 4 touchdowns (1 passing and 3 rushing) to lead the Trojans to a wire-to-wire victory over the Fighting Irish. PHOTO BY MEG OLIPHANT

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