Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2018

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

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Page 19 of 47

20 FEBRUARY 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED TURNING POINT Years from now, junior wideout Miles Boykins' terrific one-handed stab that led to a 55-yard catch-and- run touchdown with 1:28 left in the contest to defeat LSU will remain immortalized as one of the great receptions in school history. However, Boykins' 29-yard recep- tion on third-and-19 on the previ- ous series had even more impact in changing the game's complexion. LSU had just scored a touchdown with 11:13 remaining to expand its lead to 14-6, and the Tigers defense was smelling blood after an inten- tional grounding call on sophomore quarterback Ian Book helped put the Irish into a third-and-19 at the LSU 48. Book then threaded the needle per- fectly to Boykin down the left side- line between All-American corner Greedy Williams and the safety, and five plays later the game was tied. That third-and-long conversion was seismic as a momentum changer. STAT OF THE GAME After faltering in the fourth quar- ter in the regular-season finale at Stanford while getting outscored 21-0, Notre Dame scored 15 points and its lone two touchdowns of the game in the fourth quarter to defeat the Tigers. Those 15 points are noteworthy because the LSU defense under es- teemed coordinator Dave Aranda permitted a total of 11 points in the fourth quarter of its previous seven contests. In the final 15 minutes of the final seven regular-season games, LSU had shut out Florida, Auburn, Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas A&M, while allowing only eight points in a victory over Mis- sissippi and three in a defeat versus Alabama. After not crossing the end zone the first 52:11 of the contest, Notre Dame marched 75 and 73 yards on its final two full series that resulted in touchdowns. DON'T FORGET THE DEFENSE While Notre Dame's fourth-quar- ter offense and a potential changing of the guard at quarterback were popular topics after the victory ver- sus LSU, the Irish defense's short- yardage work cannot be ignored and demonstrated just how much it is a game of inches. In the second quarter, LSU had second-and-goal at the Irish 2-yard line, but a one-yard gain and a failed quarterback sneak inches from the goal line kept the Tigers out of the end zone. A LSU penalty then helped the Irish end the series without giving up a point. Perhaps that was in LSU head coach Ed Orgeron's head when with the score 14-14, LSU came up inches short of the goal line again on third-and-goal from the 2-yard line. Rather than power it over with Der- rius Guice, LSU opted for the field goal with 2:03 left, thus reducing some pressure on the Irish offense. THREE OBSERVATIONS BY LOU SOMOGYI OFFENSE: QB IAN BOOK Junior wide receiver Miles Boykin made a tremendous play on the game-winning 55-yard touchdown pass, and senior offensive linemen Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson were brilliant in their final games at Notre Dame, but it was the sophomore quar- terback that provided the spark the Irish needed. Book finished the game with 164 passing yards, 36 rushing yards and two scores despite playing just more than a half of football. He bounced back from a third-quarter interception to lead the Irish on a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives. Book went 4-of-6 pass- ing on the final two drives for 108 yards with two touchdowns. Book also converted a third-and-19 with a 21-yard run in the sec- ond quarter, and his decision making in the read zone helped the Irish offense be more productive in the second half. DEFENSE: LB TE'VON CONEY The junior linebacker was truly special against LSU, leading the Irish defense with a career-high 17 tackles. Against a tough rushing offense, he was able to match the physicality of the Tigers backs and blockers. Coney was disciplined against the run, he arrived at the football with force and he provided the Irish defense with a spark early in the game, making five stops on the first three drives to help stall the LSU offense. SPECIAL TEAMS: K JUSTIN YOON With the offense sputtering early, the junior placekicker provided the team with two clutch field goals to give Notre Dame its first two scores, and he did it in bad weather conditions. Yoon drilled a 46-yard field goal with just four seconds left in the first half to give the Irish a 3-0 lead going into the break. His 49-yarder in the third quarter was the second longest of his career. TOP PLAYERS OF THE GAME BY BRYAN DRISKELL Junior linebacker Te'von Coney racked up a career-high 17 tack- les against LSU. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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