With just three games left in the season, the Fighting Irish took the field against Army in the 2016 Shamrock Series game, and put together one of their best performances of the season for an easy 44-6 victory.
It didn’t take long for the Irish to get rolling, with CJ Sanders providing an immediate spark with a 92 yard return for a touchdown on the opening kickoff. And, with the Irish reaching the end zone on their next three possessions, the rout was on in earnest. Notre Dame’s defense stepped it up, as well, holding the Black Knights to just one scoring drive, and forcing four 3 and Outs in the game. It was the first time this season that the Irish were able to execute all three phases of the game to near perfection, and, even if it was against Army, it should give them a good dose of confidence as they prepare for their last two games of the 2016 regular season.
Key Fighting Irish Plays
1st Quarter – CJ Sanders 92 yard kickoff return for TD. One cut to the sideline, and Sanders was racing untouched to the end zone for his third career kickoff return touchdown, and a 7-0 Irish lead just seconds into the game.
1st Quarter – DeShone Kizer 37 yard TD pass to Kevin Stepherson. Army’s defensive backs simply couldn’t match Stepherson’s speed, as he had several steps on his defender and snatched the ball out of the air for the deep touchdown reception.
2nd Quarter – DeShone Kizer 31 yard TD pass to Durham Smythe. Smythe’s second touchdown of the game came with just 37 seconds left in the second quarter, and put an exclamation mark on a near perfect first half for the Irish. Smythe’s TD would give the Irish a commanding 38-6 lead going into halftime.
3rd Quarter – Tarean Folston 4 yard TD run. After Army’s punt takes a very favorable Irish bounce, Notre Dame took over on Army’s 37 yard line, and Folston goes to work, carrying the ball on four out of the five plays in the drive, rushing for 32 yards, and finding the end zone on a 4 yard run with under a minute left in the third quarter for a 44-6 Irish lead.
Final Score: Notre Dame 44 – Army 6
Top Fighting Irish Performers
For the first time this season, Stepherson led the Irish in receiving yards against Army. Stepherson’s speed is proving to be a difference maker, as evidence by his break away 37 yard touchdown grab early in the first quarter. Stepherson finished the game with 5 receptions for 75 yards and 1 TD.
Against Army, Smythe had his first multiple reception game all season, with two receptions. Smythe made those two receptions count, though, as he reached the end zone on both of them. Smythe finished the game with 2 receptions for 41 yards and 2 TDs.
For the first time this season, Onwualu reached double digits in tackles, and led the team in tackles, as well. Onwualu also came up with a big 3rd down sack late in the fourth quarter, with Army threatening to score from Notre Dame’s 6 yard line; Army’s QB would throw an interception on the next play. Onwualu would finish the game with 12 tackles (3 solo, 9 assisted), 1.5 TFL, and 1 sack.
Next Up: Notre Dame takes on Virginia Tech on Senior Day for the Irish at 3:30 pm EST (12:30 PST).