NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Ninth-ranked Notre Dame came alive in the second quarter with 17 points en route to a 30-27 win over Southern Cal Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.
Running back Tony Jones led the Irish rushing attack with a career-high 176 rushing yards on 25 carries. Jones recorded his third-straight 100-yard rushing game and had 120 rushing yards in the first half alone. The Irish had their best rushing performance of the season with 311 yards on 45 carries. Branden Lenzy also ripped off a 51-yard touchdown, the longest rush of the season for the Irish.
Quarterback Ian Book finished 17-of-32 for 165 yards and two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing). Tight end Cole Kmet led all Irish receivers with six receptions on six targets for 61 yards and one touchdown. Chris Finke had five receptions on the night for 45 yards.
Asmar Bilal led the defense with a career-high 11 total tackles, while defensive end Khalid Kareem had seven tackles and a sack.
How It Happened
After both teams exchanged punts on their first two drives, Southern Cal broke through for the first points of the game. The Trojans finished off an eight-play drive with a 40-yard field goal by Chase McGrath and held a 3-0 lead with 2:13 left in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Irish responded with the first touchdown of the night. After converting a third-and-seven from inside their own 20, the Irish started to go no-huddle and moved down the field. Six plays later, the 97-yard drive was capped by a 10-yard touchdown pass from Book to Kmet to give the Irish the 7-3 lead.
On the ensuing drive for the Irish, they just needed four plays to find the end zone again. Lenzy recorded his first career rushing touchdown on a 51-yard rush. It was the longest rushing touchdown and the longest rushing play for the Irish this season.
Notre Dame had one final scoring drive to increase the lead before halftime. Jonathan Doerer hit a career-long 45-yard field goal to finish a nine-play drive and the Irish took a 17-3 lead into halftime.
Doerer struck a career-long 52-yard field goal and finished off the fourth-consecutive scoring drive for the Irish to open the second half.
Southern Cal answered with a field goal on the next drive. The Trojans drove into the red zone but the Irish defense stood up and held them to a 27-yard field goal from McGrath after an 11-play drive.
Southern Cal made it a one-score game with its first touchdown of the night on the next drive. Kedon Slovis hit Amon St. Brown on a 38-yard touchdown pass to cap off a five-play, 62 yard drive to cut the Irish lead to 20-13 with 2:34 left in the third quarter.
Notre Dame stopped the run for the Trojans with Doerer’s third field goal of the night. He was good from 42 yards to extend the Irish lead back to double-digits at 23-13 with 13:47 remaining in the game.
The Trojans responded quickly with their second touchdown of the half to cut the deficit to three. Southern Cal drove 75 yards in just 3:20 and ended the drive with a five-yard touchdown pass from Slovis to Tyler Vaughns.
The Irish stuck to the running game in the ensuing drive. Notre Dame ran it on 12-of-14 plays and Book had an eight-yard keeper for a touchdown to restore a 10-point lead. On the drive, Notre Dame eclipsed 300 yards rushing for the game.
Southern Cal made it a one-score game once again after a nine-play, 77-yard drive ended in a three yard rushing touchdown from Kenneth Walker III with 1:04 left in the game. The Trojans attempted the onside kick but Brock Wright recovered for the Irish to clinch the win.
- Notre Dame posted 196 rushing yards in the first half, the most recorded by the Irish in the opening half this season, and the most by an Irish team since November 4, 2017, against Wake Forest (258 rushing yards in the first half).
- RB Tony Jones posted a career-high 176 rushing yards, marking his fourth 100-yard rushing performance of the season and the fifth of his career. His previous rushing career-high came vs. Virginia (131 yards).
- WR Braden Lenzy notched his first career rushing touchdown (second career TD), a 51-yard score, in the second quarter. It was Notre Dame’s longest rushing touchdown of the season, as well as the longest rushing play of the season.
- TE Cole Kmet recorded the first touchdown of the game, his third of the season and of his career, on a 10-yard pass from QB Ian Book.
- P/K Jonathan Doerer made a career-long 52-yard field goal on the opening drive of the second half, also making a 45-yard field goal with 15 seconds remaining in the first half. Doerer added a 43-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. All three surpassed his previous career long (36 yards).
- Tonight marks the first time an Irish kicker has made three field goals of 40 or more yards in a single game since 1996.
- Doerer’s 52-yarder places him in the Irish record books, matching the third-longest field goal made in Notre Dame history. Dave Reeve (1976 vs. Pittsburgh) and Kyle Brindza (2013 vs. Arizona State in Arlington, Texas) both had 53-yard field goals for the Irish.
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