Irish become bowl eligible with 24-17 win at Wake Forest

It wasn't a monster statement win but it was a win and Notre Dame is now bowl eligible after a 24-17 victory at Wake Forest in the first ever meeting between the two teams on Saturday night.

Tommy Rees threw two touchdown passes and Jonas Gray rushed for a score as Notre Dame shut out Wake Forest in the second half to improve to 6-3 on the season.

Irish coach Brian Kelly used words like gritty and tough to describe his team's play in a victory where the Irish had a number of injuries including to center Braxston Cave and defensive lineman Aaron Lynch. Linebacker Manti Te'o was also banged up.

"Manti was playing on one leg," Kelly said. "playing for his teammates, playing for Notre Dame. It's just a real classic way of looking at a football team and how you win consistently. You gotta win games like this where its just a gritty, tough performance."

Rees was 14 of 23 for 166 yards with scoring passes of 38 yards to Tyler Eifert and 16 yards to Michael Floyd.

"Couldn't be more proud of guys to rally together, to come from behind on the road in a tough environment," Rees said.

The Irish outgained the Demon Deacons 341-297, scored on their first two possessions of the second half and held on to win their second straight.

Notre Dame captain Harrison Smith said the victory was big but that it wasn't bigger because of the tension that happened between the players and coach Kelly before the Navy game.

"Whatever happened last week--we're already passed that, we're already unified," Smith explained. "This didn't make us any more unified but it just keeps us rolling."

Tanner Price was 17 of 24 for 187 yards with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Pendergrass. Josh Harris added a 2-yard touchdown run for Wake Forest (5-4), which led 17-10 at halftime but has lost three of four.

Twice in the second half, the Demon Deacons had the ball at the Notre Dame 10 while down by a touchdown - and they came away with
no points.

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