Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2022

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

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Page 28 of 47 DECEMBER 2022 29 "We get the ball, we're driving down- field," head coach Marcus Freeman said. "We're rolling. They do something spectacular and need to create a take- away. It's good for them." The play call was a run-pass option. The play itself gave Pyne the read to pull the ball from Estime when USC's linebackers stepped up on the play fake. When that happens, Pyne's job on the play is to throw to wide receiver Jayden Thomas in the flat and lead him so he can run after the catch. It's a play Notre Dame has run multiple times per game nearly all season, often with Mayer. This time, Thomas had space in front of him for a meaningful first down gain. The ball squirted out from Pyne's grasp as he snatched it away from Es- time's midsection and started to sprint out right in Thomas' direction. A mis- take on a second-nature task. The ball bounced away from Pyne, and USC linebacker Ralen Goforth beat him to falling on it. It was Pyne's only mistake at that point and one of just a couple he made in post- ing his most impressive passing stat line of the season. He did not throw an in- complete pass until the fourth quarter and ended the game 23 of 26. He threw for more yards (318 to 232) and had a higher completion rate (88 to 82 percent) than Williams on a day where Notre Dame failed to top 100 rushing yards. If not for Pyne, the Irish might have been blown out wire to wire. It feels al- most unfair his performance will be as defined by a mistake as it will be setting a career high in passing yards. Just ask his teammates. "The offense was able to keep us in it and were able to respond when we needed to respond and keep it at that 10-point margin," senior linebacker JD Bertrand said. Football can be cruel, though. Some- times one bad play negates or outweighs an entire half of good moments. Pyne felt that pain against USC, which made sure the gaffe didn't go unpunished. "For us to give the ball away on a self- inflicted wound, a quarterback and run- ning back exchange, that can't happen," Freeman said. "It can't happen." ✦ SOUTHERN CAL VS. NOTRE DAME QUARTER-BY-QUARTER COMPARISON Southern Cal 1st Qtr. 2nd Qtr. 3rd Qtr. 4th Qtr. 1st Half 2nd Half Total Time of Possession 9:15 8:25 8:47 8:56 17:40 17:43 35:23 Third-Down Conversions 3-4 2-3 2-2 1-3 5-7 3-5 8-12 Fourth-Down Conversions 0-0 0-0 0-0 1-1 0-0 1-1 1-1 Average Field Position USC-37 USC-26 USC-26 ND-48 USC-32 USC-41 USC-37 Notre Dame 1st Qtr. 2nd Qtr. 3rd Qtr. 4th Qtr. 1st Half 2nd Half Final Time of Possession 5:45 6:35 6:13 6:04 12:20 12:17 24:37 Third-Down Conversions 1-3 2-2 1-1 1-1 3-5 2-2 5-7 Fourth-Down Conversions 0-0 0-1 0-0 0-0 0-1 0-0 0-1 Average Field Position ND-14 ND-18 ND-25 ND-26 ND-16 ND-26 ND-21 PLAY CHART (NO. OF PLAYS) Yards USC ND Nega ve 9 4 0-5 24 26 6-9 7 6 10-19 17 7 20-29 3 7 30-39 1 2 40-49 0 0 50 or more 0 0 RED ZONE EFFICIENCY (INSIDE 20-YARD LINE) No Poss. TD FG Score Southern Cal 6 5 1 0 Notre Dame 1 1 0 0 BIG PLAYS (25 YARDS OR MORE) Notre Dame • 2-6 ND34 Pyne pass to Es me for 30 yards to USC36 • 3-10 ND30 Pyne pass to Colzie for 30 yards to USC40 • 1-10 USC46 Pyne pass to Lenzy for 25 yards to USC21 Southern Cal • 3-2 USC33 Williams pass to McRee for 31 yards to ND36 • 3-6 USC29 Williams pass to Rice for 25 yards to ND46 Junior quarterback Drew Pyne played one of the best games of his career, but his fumble on the opening drive of the sec- ond half with the Irish poised to cut into a 17-7 deficit was a momentum killer. PHOTO BY MEG OLIPHANT MISCELLANEOUS NOTES • This year's matchup marked Southern Cal's first game against Notre Dame at the Los Angeles Coliseum since the 2018 season. • The Trojans' 38-27 win snapped a four- game losing streak to Notre Dame and snapped the Fighting Irish's five-game win- ning streak this season. • The 38 points scored by Southern Cal were its most against Notre Dame since scor- ing 45 in a 45-27 win in 2016. • USC has now defeated UCLA and Notre Dame in consecutive games in that order for the 11th time. • Junior tight end Michael Mayer scored Notre Dame's first touchdown on a 22-yard reception in the second quarter, then fol- lowed up with a 24-yard scoring reception on the fourth quarter. It creates a new single- season tight end touchdown record with 9 this season (surpassing Mayer's 7 from last year) and extends his career tight end touch- down mark to 18. • Mayer nabbed 8 receptions in the game to push his career total to 180, moving ahead of Jeff Samardzija (179) for third on Notre Dame's all-time reception list.

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