Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct.10, 2016

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

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26 OCT. 10, 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED TURNING POINT The first 6:34 of the second half went from what looked like would be a seesaw affair to be decided on the final series to Notre Dame as- serting control. Syracuse scored the last touch- down of the first half with 30 seconds left to pull within 33-27, plus it was receiving the second half kickoff. The Irish made a stop on the open- ing series with a sack, and then five plays later a 54-yard touchdown pass to freshman wideout Kevin Stepherson made the score 37-27. After forcing another Orange punt, Notre Dame sophomore run- ning back Dexter Williams looked like he was trapped for a five-yard loss before reversing his field and scampering for a 59-yard touch- down, reminiscent of Marcus Allen's famous run in the 1984 Super Bowl. Syracuse was within striking dis- tance throughout the first 37 minutes, but it deflated after this sequence. STAT OF THE GAME Five Notre Dame touchdowns ac- counted for 352 yards, or an average of 70.4 yards. There were scoring passes of 79 and 67 to sophomore wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, a 54-yard TD toss to Stepherson, a 93-yard kickoff return by sophomore C.J. Sanders and a 59-yard run by Wil- liams. Those tallies had all occurred with 8:26 still remaining in the third quarter. The plethora of explosives were too much to overcome for a small, young and decimated Syracuse de- fense that was in damage control mode. There were also other missed opportunities, including overthrow- ing a wide open Stepherson that would have resulted in a 56-yard score. A 44-yard wheel route to sopho- more running back Josh Adams set up the sixth Irish touchdown. DEFENSE OVERSHADOWED The 50-33 final score makes it look like another defenseless game for the Fighting Irish. Plus, the 167 points Notre Dame has allowed during its 2-3 start is still the most in Fighting Irish history in the first five games of a season (the 3-9 team in 2007 yielded 166). Overshadowed, and perhaps also worthy of stat of the game honors, is the Irish defense allowed only six points in the second half. The unit forced Syracuse to punt on its first four possessions of the second half while taking control, and on the fifth it made a red-zone stop on fourth down at its 5-yard line. It might not generate much atten- tion overall, but the second-half ef- fectiveness on defense is something the Irish might be able to build on while trying to rise from the rubble through the first four and a half games. THREE OBSERVATIONS BY LOU SOMOGYI Junior linebacker Nyles Morgan continued his consistency and improvement against the Orange, making eight tackles (1.5 for loss) and recording his second sack of the season. PHOTO BY RICK KIMBALL OFFENSE: WR EQUANIMEOUS ST. BROWN AND QB DESHONE KIZER The sophomore wide receiver and junior quarterback hooked up for two long touchdown passes within the first four minutes of the contest, and both achieved career-high yardage totals, to propel Notre Dame to victory. St. Brown got Notre Dame rolling early, scoring from 79 yards out on the first play from scrimmage while showing off his after- the-catch skills. On Notre Dame's second series, St. Brown beat his man up the right sideline for a 67-yard touchdown. Kizer finished with 471 passing yards — including 356 in the first half — and accounted for four touchdowns, while St. Brown finished with four receptions for 182 yards (45.5 yards per catch) and the two scores. DEFENSE: LB NYLES MORGAN The Irish defense gave up a lot of yards and points early, but it settled down after the first quarter. A big reason for that was the energetic play of the junior Mike linebacker, who finished the game with eight tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and his second sack of the season. Morgan ended a second-quarter Syracuse drive by sniffing out a screen and bringing down senior wide receiver Brisly Estime for a loss. SPECIAL TEAMS: KR C.J. SANDERS Notre Dame and Syracuse were going back and forth during the first quarter, with the two teams trading scores on their first two possessions. After Syracuse scored to make it a 16-13 game, the sophomore kick returner gave the Irish the spark they needed with a 93-yard touchdown return to pull away. TOP PLAYERS OF THE GAME BY BRYAN DRISKELL

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