NOTRE DAME, Ind. — A last-gasp touchdown drive resulting in a seven-yard scoring rush by Ian Book lifted No. 16 Notre Dame to a 21-20 victory over Virginia Tech on Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.
After the Hokies (5-3) had held the Irish (6-2) scoreless in the second half, Book and company manufactured an 18-play, 87-yard drive in the final 3:22 of regulation, scoring with 29 seconds remaining to regain the lead.
Book finished 29-of-53 for 341 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, while also rushing for an additional 50 yards on 13 carries. Wide receiver Chase Claypool had eight catches for 118 yards — including one for 26 yards on fourth down during the final drive — while Chris Finke finished with 56 yards on five receptions and tight ends Cole Kmet and Tommy Tremble each had touchdown receptions. Running back Jafar Armstrong finished with 37 rushing yards.
Linebacker Drew White led the team in tackles with eight, while cornerback Donte Vaughan had six tackles and a pair of pass breakups and safety Kyle Hamilton finished with four tackles, a pass break-up and the interception that iced the game with two seconds to go.
How It Happened
The Irish didn’t let a first-quarter interception amount to anything after trading three-and-outs with the Hokies to start the game. On their second possession, the Irish moved efficiently into Virginia Tech territory, but linebacker Dax Hollifield snagged a Book pass at the nine-yard line to stall the Irish charge.
After a delay of game penalty, the Hokies failed to advance and were forced to punt. The attempt went just 38 yards with a 16-yard return by Finke to the 26-yard line. Two plays later — an 18-yard pass from Book to Finke and an 8-yard reception by Kmet — the Irish took a 7-0 lead at the 9:10 mark of the first quarter.
The Hokies tied it up before the quarter was out. After a short Notre Dame punt gave them the ball at the Irish 45-yard line, the Hokies took advantage of a facemask penalty and converted on fourth-and-goal from the eight as quarterback Quincy Patterson connected with receiver Damon Hazelton on the touchdown late in the period.
Notre Dame regained the lead on the next series, driving 11 yards for 77 yards to take a 14-7 lead at 11:45 of the second quarter. Book found tight end Tommy Tremble on a four-yard scoring strike immediately following a 26-yard catch-and-run from running back Jafar Armstrong that injected life into the Irish drive.
The Irish looked to make it a two-touchdown lead just before halftime after Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah recovered a Hokie fumble at the 42-yard line. The Irish marched to the one-yard line before a fumble by Armstrong turned into a 98-yard fumble return by Divine Deablo to tie the game with nine seconds left in the half.
The Hokies kept the momentum rolling after halftime, converting on a 44-yard field goal to take their first lead of the game at the 11-minute mark of the third quarter. Nearly a full quarter later, Virginia Tech added to its lead on a 25-yard field goal with 13:25 left in the game to make it 20-14.
A missed Irish field goal attempt at the 7:02 mark resulted in a missed opportunity to cut into the Hokie lead, but the Irish defense halted Virginia Tech and took possession at their own 13-yard line with 3:22 to go. A pair of fourth-down conversions kept the drive alive, first on fourth-and-three from the 20 when Book found Armstrong for five yards. The next came on fourth-and-10 at the Virginia Tech 33, when Book connected with Claypool on a crossing route for 26 yards to the seven.
Three plays later, Book was in the end zone, scrambling for the score after the play broke down, with the extra point giving the Irish the lead for the first time since the first half.
An attempt at trickery on the kickoff return when for naught on the Hokies’ part, as Owusu-Koramoah pinned returner Caleb Farley at the 10. After two incomplete passes, Hamilton snagged his second interception of the year to clinch the win.
- With the win:
- The Irish have won 16 straight home games, which is the third-longest streak in school history.
- Notre Dame improves to 2-1-0 vs. Virginia Tech
- Notre Dame forced three-and-outs on six of Virginia Tech’s nine drives in the first half, holding the Hokies to 85 yards, against Notre Dame’s 243 yards.
- Notre Dame’s first two first downs came on consecutive plays, with passes from QB Ian Book to WR Chase Claypool (30 yards) and WR Javon McKinley (26 yards).
- CB Troy Pride Jr. and DB Kyle Hamilton recorded key pass breakups to force the Hokies to a three-and-out at their own four-yard line after Virginia Tech intercepted an Ian Book pass at the VT eight-yard line. The interception marked the first time this season the Irish have not scored on a trip to the red zone. Notre Dame was the last remaining team in the FBS hold a perfect red zone scoring percentage.
- TE Cole Kmet scored Notre Dame’s first TD of the game on an eight-yard pass from Book. The trip to the end zone places Kmet at second all-time for TD receptions in a season by an Irish tight end.
- TE Tommy Tremble accounted for Notre Dame’s second TD of the game on a four-yard pass from Book. It was Tremble’s third TD of the season
- LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah recovered a Virginia Tech fumble, the first fumble recovery of his career, to give the Irish possession at the Hokie 47-yard line late in the second quarter.
- Notre Dame’s streak of 1,273 carries without a fumble — the nation’s best — was snapped just before halftime when RB Jafar Armstrong lost possession at the Hokie two-yard line.