Oct. 28, 2017
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Saturday’s match-up against No. 14 NC State promised a challenge for Notre Dame’s sixth-rated rushing offense, and the ninth-ranked Irish proved more than up to the challenge, handling the Wolfpack rush defense in a 35-14 win at Notre Dame Stadium.
The Notre Dame rushing attack totaled 318 yards against the nation’s sixth-ranked rushing defense, busting NC State’s average coming into the game (91.3) by nearly 230 yards. At the head of the Irish charge was Josh Adams, who bolstered his Heisman credentials with a 202-yard, one-touchdown performance.
On a day in which he surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark in the fewest carries (110) in school history, Adams tacked on a 77-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that gave the Irish their 35-14 lead. It was his nation-leading seventh run of at least 60 yards on the season and his fourth of at least 70 yards.
The Irish (7-1) held NC State rushers to just 50 yards after averaging 177.4 yards per game prior to Saturday. Linebacker Te’von Coney led the team with 9.0 tackles, including 5.0 solo efforts. Linebacker Drue Tranquill followed with 7.0 tackles (3.0 solo) of his own, while Nyles Morgan recorded 6.0 (2.0 solo).
Cornerback Julian Love led the secondary with three pass break-ups, as well as his second interception return for a touchdown of the season.
The Wolfpack (6-2) got on the board first, capitalizing on an Irish miscue as James Smith-Williams blocked a Tyler Newsome punt in the Irish end zone and Germaine Pratt recovered the attempt for an NC State touchdown.
Notre Dame was quick to respond however, engineering its own scoring drive of two plays for 60 yards in 29 seconds, culminating in a 25-yard strike from Wimbush to Smythe to even the score.
After a 15-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Finley to Kelvin Harmon to start the second quarter for NC State, the Irish again struck back with the equalizer. After guiding the Irish on a 14-play, 72-yard drive, Wimbush scampered into the end zone for a three-yard touchdown rush for his 11th scoring run of the season, eclipsing DeShone Kizer’s previous school record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.
The Irish defense forced a three-and-out on the next series, and the offense delivered upon getting the ball back. Facing third-and-six from the NC State 22, Smythe pulled in an 11-yard pass pass down the far sideline, grazing his toes in-bounds to keep the drive alive. Kevin Stepherson followed in kind on the next play, getting a foot down in the corner of the end zone on the 11-yard touchdown reception to put the Irish up 21-14.
After notching three critical pass break-ups in the first half, Love was back at it in the second, disrupting the Wolfpack’s opening drive with his second interception return for a touchdown of the season. Love’s 69-yard return also marked the first pick against Finley this season, who had made 339 straight attempts without a passing turnover.
Adams capped the day for the Irish with his 77-yard jaunt with 4:11 remaining in the third quarter. It came a week after an 84-yard scoring rush in the win against USC.
The Irish return to Notre Dame Stadium next Saturday, Nov. 4, to face Wake Forest (5-3). The game is set for a 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff and will air on NBC.