Hartman leads Notre Dame to 45-7 win over Wake Forest on Senior Day
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP/WNDU) - The Notre Dame football team took care of business on Saturday and sent its seniors off with a win in their final game in the House that Rockne Built.
The Fighting Irish (No. 19 CFP, No. 20 AP) dominated Wake Forest 45-7 behind the play of quarterback Sam Hartman, who threw for 277 yards and four touchdowns against his former team. Meanwhile, Notre Dame (8-3) improved to 6-0 all-time vs. Wake Forest (4-7).
Hartman got the Notre Dame offense on track late in the first quarter. He guided the Fighting Irish 71 yards in nine plays, connecting with Devyn Ford for a 12-yard TD strike to put Notre Dame ahead 7-0 with :54 left in the first quarter.
Wake Forest answered with a nine-yard scoring run by Tate Carney that evened the score at 7-7 with 11:41 left in the second quarter.
Hartman launched his second touchdown pass – 35 yards to Tobias Merriweather – to give Notre Dame a 14-7 advantage at the 7:06 mark of the second quarter.
Spencer Schrader’s 37-yard field goal in the final seconds of the first half pushed the Notre Dame lead to 17-7 at halftime.
Notre Dame smacked Wake Forest with successive big plays in the opening minute of the second half to take command.
Wake Forest received the opening kickoff to start the third quarter, but on the second play of the drive Fighting Irish linebacker JD Bertrand forced a fumble by Wake Forest quarterback Michael Kern. The ball was pounced on by Notre Dame defensive tackle Rylie Mills at the Demon Deacons’ 19.
Hartman only needed one play to fire his third passing TD of the game, connecting with Eli Raridon for a 19-yard scoring play as the Fighting Irish grabbed a 24-7 lead. His fourth TD pass of the game was a 48-yard strike to Jaden Greathouse with 13:24 left in the fourth quarter.
Fighting Irish backup quarterback Steve Angeli finished off the Irish assault with a 17-yard TD pass to Jordan Faison with 3:56 left in the game.
Transferring from Wake Forest to Notre Dame for the 2023 season, Hartman leads all active FBS quarterbacks in career touchdowns (132) and passing yardage (15,516).
Hartman moved into fourth place on the all-time NCAA career TD list with his four-TD performance against Wake Forest. He passed Colt Brennan (Hawaii, 2005-2007), Rakeem Cato (Marshall, 2011-2014) and Baker Mayfield (Texas Tech/Oklahoma, 2013, 2015-17), who were all tied with 131.
Hartman is now two TDs behind Graham Harrell (Texas Tech, 2005-2008), who is third with 134. Case Keenum (Houston, 2007-2011) is the all-time leader with 155, followed by Kellen Moore (Boise State, 2008-2011) at 142.
Forging much of his legacy as the signal-caller for Wake Forest, Hartman owns Demon Deacon records for career completions, attempts, total touchdowns, and total yards. One of six players in FBS history to surpass the 15,000-yard mark for passing, Hartman added to his prolific career numbers at the expense of his former team.
“I think it’s a credit to everybody,” Hartman said after the game. “Shoot, it’s a credit to a lot of the guys on the other team we just played, which is weird thing to say. I think it’s a credit to just everybody around me making plays and making catches and blocks and all that other stuff.”
“There is normal distractions that the human element presents when you play a team, an opponent where you know every person on that side like Sam does,” said Irish head coach Marcus Freeman. “It’s different. He was with those guys for five years, with that coaching staff. So, for him to be able to put that distraction away and perform the way he did is a testament to who he is and the confidence and consistency that he provides.”
Notre Dame running back Audric Estimé rushed for 115 yards on 22 carries and 1 TD. Estimé surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season on his 2-yard TD run in the third quarter.
On the other side of the ball, Notre Dame’s defense shut down Wake Forest. The Irish only allowed 232 yards of total offense and seven points.
It’s another great performance for a defense that’s statistically one of the best in the country. But Freeman still isn’t satisfied.
“I’ve always had a mindset if they don’t score, they don’t win,” Freeman said. “We have to evaluate ourselves. Every individual. That’s a reflection of our entire team. It’s easy to point the finger at somebody else. All that does is make you feel better about yourself. That doesn’t help our team get better. I know tomorrow we’ll be in there and critique every single play. I’m sure defensively there will be a lot to improve, but I like to be upset about seven points.”
Saturday’s game was not only special because it was Senior Day. It was also the 500th game played at Notre Dame’s iconic home stadium. The Irish played their first game at Notre Dame Stadium 93 years ago on Oct. 4, 1930, and defeated SMU 20-14.
Notre Dame closes the books on its home slate this season with a 5-1 record. Their only blemish was a last-second loss to Ohio State back on Sept. 23.
The Irish have one more regular season game left at Stanford next Saturday before figuring out where and who they will play in their postseason bowl game.
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