Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 9, 2017

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

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Page 22 of 55 OCT. 9, 2017 23 BY LOU SOMOGYI T eam speed is always essential in football, but Notre Dame has given it a new meaning the past two weeks. After racing to a 14‑0 lead in the first 4:27 a week earlier in a 38‑18 win at Michigan State (and 28‑7 by halftime), the Fighting Irish topped that by building a 14‑0 cushion in the first 3:24 versus Miami (Ohio). Notre Dame (4‑1) exploded for 28 first‑quarter points and built a 45‑ 14 halftime lead before coasting to a 52‑17 victory against the Mid‑Amer‑ ican Conference foe RedHawks (2‑3). Junior running back Josh Adams romped for 73‑ and 59‑yard touch‑ downs in the first quarter and was easily on pace to break Julius Jones' school‑record 262‑yard rushing per‑ formance at Pitt in 2003, but a tweak of his ankle later in the same quar‑ ter kept him on the sidelines the re‑ mainder of the game as a precaution. Head coach Brian Kelly confirmed afterwards that Adams could have played if needed. For Adams, his performance was merely an offshoot of preparation throughout the week. "Each time that we go in for prac‑ tice we're preparing with that mind‑ set of going out and dominating," Adams said. "We want to do better than we did the last week. I think that really helped us start fast and finish strong today." Junior quarterback Brandon Wim‑ bush tossed a career‑high three touchdown passes to three different receivers, but the passing game re‑ verted to inconsistency. He finished just 7‑of‑18 passing for 119 yards, though he also contributed 11 rush‑ ing attempts for 36 yards and a touchdown. For the second straight game, Notre Dame did not commit a turn‑ over while forcing two by Miami (Ohio) that resulted in 14 points. The third consecutive blowout win by at least 20 points is not what Kelly points to as much as the consistent ap‑ proach to competition and excellence while eradicating any complacency. "I think what they're more excited about is I challenged them on Mon‑ day to show me mental toughness … that's really what their focus is about — how they're preparing and how they play the game, more so than what the point differential is," Kelly said. FIRST QUARTER: NOTRE DAME, 28, MIAMI (OHIO) 7 Top Moment(s): Take a pick with Adams. On the second play from scrimmage, he crashed through the middle for a 73‑yard touchdown just 25 seconds into the contest. With 6:06 left, he broke loose on a 59‑yard scamper to expand the lead to 21‑7. Top Performers: Adams had eight carries for 159 yards and the two long touchdowns before suffering the ankle injury late in the quarter. Meanwhile, the Notre Dame de‑ fense created short fields for the sec‑ ond and fourth touchdowns by the Irish on 36‑ and 30‑yard drives. Senior linebacker Greer Martini set up Notre Dame's second touchdown with his first career interception that he returned 42 yards to Miami's 36. That led to Wimbush's one‑yard touchdown run. Later, junior nose tackle Jerry Til‑ lery forced a fumbled by Miami (Ohio) quarterback Gus Ragland that senior defensive end Jay Hayes re‑ covered at the 30. That led to sopho‑ more wideout Chase Claypool's first career touchdown on a seven‑yard fade from Wimbush with 38 seconds remaining for the 28‑7 advantage. Stats: The Irish outgained the Red‑ Hawks 186‑89 in total yards, most notably 158 to minus‑nine on the ground. Items: After falling behind 14‑0, Miami (Ohio) scored on a 34‑yard touchdown pass from Ragland to James Gardner on third‑and‑10 with 7:59 left. Both teams had three tackles for loss. Sophomore Irish wideout Kevin Stepherson made his first appearance after sitting out the first four games for a reported suspension. SECOND QUARTER: NOTRE DAME 45, MIAMI (OHIO) 14 Top Moment: Notre Dame took possession at its 19 with a 38‑14 lead and 2:19 left, and lost junior run‑ ning back Tony Jones Jr. because of a helmet‑on‑helmet hit on the second play. But after converting a third‑ and‑four on a six‑yard keep, Wim‑ bush found junior Miles Boykin deep for a 54‑yard touchdown with only 37 seconds remaining. Top Performer: With Notre Dame's top three running backs all sidelined at one point because of injuries, Wim‑ bush was called on to carry the load with his passing. During the second quarter, he completed 4 of 7 throws for 96 yards with two touchdowns. He also carried four times for 15 yards in the quarter. Stats: The 45 first‑half points were the most in Kelly's eight seasons as head coach, eclipsing the 42 versus Air Force on Oct. 8, 2011. It also was the most since tallying 49 — the modern school record — at Pitt on Nov. 9, 1968, a 56‑7 win. Items: During the 57‑yard touch‑ down drive that made it 35‑7, Wim‑ bush found junior wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown for 11‑, 17‑ and 14‑yard gains, the latter for the score at the 12:50 mark. Gardner scored his second touch‑ down, despite strong coverage again from senior cornerback Nick Wat‑ kins, on a 14‑yard fade to cut the deficit to 35‑14 with 10:09 left until halftime. Wi t h t h e s c o re 3 5 ‑ 1 4 , N o t re Dame's Jones rambled for 32 yards on a fake punt when the Irish faced fourth‑and‑three from the ND 37. That set up a 43‑yard field goal by junior kicker Justin Yoon with 6:09 remaining. QUICK WORK Notre Dame scored 28 first-quarter and 45 first-half points in dominant win versus Miami (Ohio) Junior running back Josh Adams raced 73 yards for a touchdown on the second play from scrim- mage and added a 59-yard scoring run midway through the first quarter. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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