Notre Dame beats Cal 24-17

Freeman picks up first victory as head coach while Irish pick up first win of the season
Published: Sep. 17, 2022 at 6:57 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Drew Pyne passed for two touchdowns and 150 yards in his first career start and Notre Dame overcame numerous mistakes to beat California 24-17 Saturday to give Irish coach Marcus Freeman his first victory.

The Irish (1-2) outscored Cal (2-1) 10-0 in the fourth quarter to avoid becoming just the third Notre Dame squad to start a season 0-3. The Irish, who started the season ranked No. 5 and had blown leads three times, made sure there was no second-half letdown this time.

But it wasn’t over until the last play. On fourth-and-13 from the Notre Dame 35, Cal’s Jack Plummer threw the ball into the end zone. The ball bounced off several players and Bears receiver Jeremiah Hunter nearly pulled it in, but the ball landed on the grass.

“You know what, it’s hard to win football games,” Freeman said after the game. “It’s hard. You’ve seen it in the first three games. It’s hard. And so, I’m so proud of that group of guys to find a way to finish. Obviously, there’s a lot of work to do. We have to get better. But you know what? Tonight is going to be about celebrating this victory. And I’m proud of them.

“It’s an honor to do it here at this university with this support system,” Freeman added. “This is a special day for me, personally, but hopefully for this program and this university.”

Meanwhile, the players said the morale in the locker after the game was much higher this week.

“It was definitely way more electric for sure,” said defensive lineman Jacob Lacey. “It was fun. The locker room felt great. {Freeman’s) message was ‘it’s not it.’ This is just the start and we’re only going forward from here. But we’re going to enjoy this one, see where we messed up and just get back to work.”

“Winning is a great feeling; that locker room is a feeling that I’ll remember for the rest of my life, and I’m just so thankful to come out victorious,” Pyne said.

The Irish head to Chapel Hill next weekend to face the North Carolina Tar Heels.