Estimé’s late TD lifts No. 11 Notre Dame over No. 17 Duke 21-14

Published: Oct. 1, 2023 at 12:06 AM EDT
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DURHAM, N.C. (WNDU/AP) - It certainly wasn’t the prettiest of wins for the Notre Dame football team, but the Fighting Irish got the job done when it mattered most.

Audric Estimé snuck through a crowd and broke free for a 30-yard touchdown run with 31 seconds left, capping a clutch long drive by No. 11 Notre Dame that pushed the Irish past No. 17 Duke 21-14 on Saturday night.

Estimé's run capped a 95-yard drive, one pushed by transfer quarterback Sam Hartman making multiple big plays with the Fighting Irish (5-1) trailing 14-13. One of those plays was a 17-yard run on a fourth-and-16 play in the final minute to keep Notre Dame alive.

Estimé followed with the winning score two plays later, then Hartman hit Rico Flores on the 2-point conversion to make it a seven-point game.

Duke (4-1) had a final chance to tie it, but its last offensive snap ended in disaster. Star quarterback Riley Leonard was stripped of the ball by Howard Cross III while trying to throw, leading to a loose ball recovered by the Irish to end it. But Cross’ body also rolled up on Leonard’s right leg, leaving him writhing in pain on the ground as Notre Dame began to celebrate the game-clinching takeaway.

When it was over, Leonard was taken to a sideline medical tent for evaluation as the teams left the field. Hartman walked over and waited for Leonard to emerge on crutches to share a quick hug and a few words before jogging off for the locker room.

Notre Dame's Audric Estimé (7) carries the ball past Duke's Terry Moore (23) for the go-ahead...
Notre Dame's Audric Estimé (7) carries the ball past Duke's Terry Moore (23) for the go-ahead and eventual game-winning touchdown late in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)(Ben McKeown | AP)

Notre Dame led 10-0 at halftime, but Duke took a 14-13 lead in the fourth quarter and was looking to play spoiler again this season after opening the season with a 28-7 win over No. 9 Clemson.

The win was much needed for the Irish, who stumbled in their College Football Playoff chase last weekend after losing to Ohio State at home on a last-second touchdown. It also extended Notre Dame’s 30-game regular-season win streak against ACC opponents.

On the flip side, Duke missed out on the chance to go to 5-0 for the first time since 1994 in a game that had a lot of attention. Along with the primetime broadcast, ESPN’s “College GameDay” visited the school for the first time for football after numerous previous visits for the storied men’s basketball program.

Hartman didn’t throw any touchdowns Saturday night but finished with 222 yards through the air. Estimé finished with 81 yards on the ground and two scores.

Meanwhile, Mitchell Evans had a big game for the Irish. The tight end caught six passes for 134 yards.

The Fighting Irish visit Louisville next Saturday, marking their third of six matchups with the ACC as part of an annual scheduling deal. It will also be Notre Dame’s third primetime matchup in a row.

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