Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 2, 2015 Issue

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

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Page 34 of 111

BY ANDREW OWENS I n a mere 10 minutes and one sec- ond of game time, Notre Dame's 14-point lead vanished and USC briefly pulled ahead in the second half — but the Irish resoundingly re- sponded the remainder of the game to top the Trojans 41-31 at Notre Dame Stadium. For the fourth time in six seasons under head coach Brian Kelly, the Irish (6-1) beat the Trojans and remained in the College Football Playoff discussion entering their bye week. Against a team reeling from a home loss to Washington and, more signifi- cantly, the firing of head coach Steve Sarkisian the Monday before the game due to his issues with alcohol abuse, Notre Dame looked like it might put away USC early. The Irish jumped out to a 21-10 lead with a 75-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback DeShone Kizer to junior wide receiver Will Fuller, followed by a 25-yard rushing score by senior running back C.J. Pro- sise. The Irish lead then grew to 11 on a blocked punt by freshman wide re- ceiver Equanimeous St. Brown, which was scooped up by fifth-year senior slot receiver Amir Carlisle, a former Trojan, for a touchdown. Notre Dame's cushion expanded to 24-10 before USC rattled off three un- answered touchdowns. "In the second half — after the sec- ond quarter, being up two scores and then USC rallying back — I really liked our temperament as a football team," Kelly said. "They didn't show any kind of crack at all. They were confident. They believed that they were going to win." During the first 35:20 of action, USC averaged 10.4 yards per play before the Irish defense tightened their grip and limited the Trojans to a 4.0 mark the remainder of the game. With the Irish leading 21-10 and threatening to score again, junior wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr. fumbled into the end zone, where the Trojans recov- ered the ball for a touchback. After the Notre Dame defense responded with a three-and-out stop, the Irish again had a chance to take a three-possession lead over the Trojans, but the drive stalled inside the 5-yard line and Notre Dame settled for a field goal. USC then fashioned a pair of big plays in the passing game — first a 75- yard touchdown reception on a trick play from wide receiver Jalen Greene to wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, and then an 83-yard score on a screen play to two-way talent Adoree' Jack- son — and suddenly had tied the game at 24. In the third quarter, the Trojans fol- lowed a defensive stop with a five- play, 80-yard scoring drive that was highlighted by running back Ronald Jones' 65-yard rush to the 7-yard line. Two plays later, quarterback Cody Kessler connected with tight end Tay- lor McNamara for a four-yard score and a 31-24 lead. "If you miss a tackle, those kids are gone," Kelly said. "They make you pay dearly, and we missed some tack- les. We had them in our sights a couple of times. "Now, I think the screen to Adoree' was well executed. They caught us in

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