With their win over Miami, Notre Dame not only kept their slim bowl game hopes alive, but they showed something that has been sorely missed this season, the ability to come from behind and win a game.
With a more hectic than normal work week leading up to the Miami game, I wasn’t able to put together a Game Day Preview, but I have to be honest, had I been able to, it would have been one of the few times since I started writing these previews that I would not have picked the Irish to win. I know, it shocked me, too! But, the fact is, the Irish, with so much talent, have continued to find ways to underperform and shoot themselves in the foot, so to speak, this season.
And, it nearly happened again in this game, with the Irish taking a big early lead, and then giving up twenty-seven unanswered points. It felt like déjà vu, all over again, but a déjà vu we should have come to expect given that it has been a recurring theme all season long, with the Irish giving up 17 unanswered points to Texas, 36 unanswered points to Michigan St., 21 unanswered points to Duke, and 17 unanswered points to Stanford, all in games which the Irish would ultimately lose. But, this time it was different for the Irish, and though they gave up the lead late in the fourth quarter, on another disastrous play on special teams, the Irish didn’t give up, and they tied the game, and then retook the lead on their next two possessions, and the Irish defense stepped up to make big plays to close the game out. It was, quite frankly, a fighting spirit, and a positive reaction to adversity that Irish fans just haven’t seen very much of out of this team, this season.
Key Fighting Irish Plays
1st Quarter – DeShone Kizer 5 yard TD pass to Torii Hunter Jr. The Irish start off strong again, taking the opening drive of the game 75 yards, on 9 plays, for the early 7-0 lead.
2nd Quarter – Justin Yoon 26 yard FG. The Irish started off the drive with a 53 yard pass from Kizer to Stepherson, but after three straight incompletions, the Irish are forced to settle for the field goal, and a 20-0 lead.
2nd Quarter – Tory Pride Jr. fumble on punt return, recovered by Miami. After the Irish defense had forced their third 3 and Out of the game, Notre Dame’s special teams coughs up the ball when Miami’s punt bounces off of Pride who was blocking on the play. With the fumble recovery, Miami is set up at Notre Dame’s 38 yard line, and they would reach the end zone just four plays later, cutting the Irish lead to 20-7.
2nd Quarter – Miami on-side kick recovered by Miami. The Hurricane’s caught Notre Dame’s special teams completely off guard, as several Irish players were caught flat-footed, failing to even run forward toward the ball in an attempt to recover it.
2nd Quarter – Nyles Morgan sack of Brad Kayaa for a loss of 17 yards. Morgan’s sack on 3rd down pushes Miami out of field goal range and forces a punt.
4th Quarter – CJ Sanders fumble on punt return, recovered by Miami. As bad as the first two Irish special teams miscues were, this one was the most inexcusable. Sanders, who is usually pretty smart on returns, inexplicably attempted to catch the ball on a bounce, surrounded by Miami players, and was unable to bring the ball into his body, instead, fumbling the ball into the end zone where Miami recovered it for a touch down. With this touchdown, Miami has scored 27 unanswered points, and they take a 27-20 lead.
4th Quarter – Josh Adams 41 yard TD run. After Miami took their first lead of the game, the Irish answer right back with a spectacular run by Adams to tie the game at 27-27.
4th Quarter – Justin Yoon 23 yard FG. The Irish go just 34 yards on this drive, but they eat up just over four minutes of game time, and Yoon’s field goal gives the Irish a 30-27 lead with just 30 seconds left to play.
4th Quarter – Nyles Morgan sacks Brad Kayaa for a 6 yard loss. Morgan’s second sack of the game ends any chance of a Miami miracle play as the clock runs out.
Final Score – Notre Dame 30 – Miami 27
Top Fighting Irish Performers
Hampered by minor, but nagging, injuries most of the season, Adams hasn’t exactly been having the kind of season Irish fans envisioned for him. He’s had just two 100+ yard rushing games this season, and had reached the end zone just once this season, in Notre Dame’s Week 4 loss to Duke, before hitting pay dirt for the Irish against Miami to tie the game late in the 4th Quarter. Adams finished with 94 yards and 1 TD on just 12 carries.
Jones, too, has been having a fairly quiet season, recording 5+ tackles in a game just once leading into the game against Miami. That changed in a big way against the Hurricanes, though, as Jones made his presence felt on the very first defensive play for the Irish with a 3 yard TFL. By games end, Jones would have 6 TFL, the most by an FBS player this year. Jones finished the game with a total of 7 solo tackles, 6 TFL, 1 pass break up, and 1 sack.
Next Up: The Fighting Irish travel to Everbank Field in Jacksonville, to take on the Navy Midshipmen at 11:30 am ET (8:30 PST).