SOUTH BEND, Ind. After losing close games and squandering big leads thorughout this season, Notre Dame came out with a much needed 30-27 win over Miami.
"They were just happy as heck that it's finally over, that they got through it in a close game, that they found a way to win," Irish head coach Brian Kelly said.
"It feels great," Irish sophomore running back Josh Adams said. "It feels amazing. To finally get the win and get the win everybody's been hungry for, everbody's been thriving for. For it to turn out the way we wanted is amazing."
The Irish raced out to a 20-0 lead in the first half behind two DeShone Kizer touchdown passes to Torii Hunter Jr. and Equanimeous St. Brown and two field goals from Justin Yoon, outgaining Miami 143-2.
They looked to be in control of the game until a Miami punt bounced off Troy Pride Jr. and set the Hurricanes up in Notre Dame territory. Miami took advantage of the miscue and scored on a two yard pass from Brad Kaaya to David Njoku to make it a 20-7 game at the half.
Miami dominated the third quarter, scoring 10 points and owning the ball for 11:17, aided by several key third down conversions. The Irish offense couldn't get anything going, and by the start of the 4th Quarter, their lead had shrunk to just 3, leading 20-17.
The Hurricanes tied the game at 20 with 12:30 left in the game on a 38-yard field goal by Michael Badgley.
Miami then took the lead when C.J. Sanders mishandled a Miami punt and fumbled into his own endzone. The Hurricanes recovered and suddenly had scored 27 unanswered points, and led 27-20 with 6:49 to go.
While the Irish have repeatedly let games like this slip through their hands this season, this time they answered the call.
Notre Dame tied it back up at 27 on the very next drive when Josh Adams took a handoff on 3rd & 1, bounced off the pile, and scampered into the endzone for a 41-yard touchdown run.
After a much needed stop by the Irish defense and a big punt return by Chris Finke, they took over on the Miami 40 with 4:43 left.
Notre Dame went on a 10-play, 34 yard drive, capped off by a 23-yard field goal with 0:30 left by Justin Yoon, and a final defensive stand snapped Notre Dame's three-game home winning streak.
"Woooo!" Irish junior linebacker Nyles Morgan said. "It's like an emotional high that we've never had before. I'm like yessss. I was too excited. We got a sack to end the game, time ran, ball game over. We live for these moments."
"I've played a lot of football games here," Irish senior captain Mike McGlinchey said. "I can't remember a time when I felt better about getting a "W" than this one right here because our team has been up against the wall. We've had to deal with a lot of crap from the outside of our program and within our program with the things we've done for ourselves. To finally push through and overcome and ignore our circumstance at this time, it doesn't get much better than the feeling we had out there especially in front of our home crowd. It's really special."
DeShone Kizer completed 25 of 38 passes for 263 yards and one touchdown for Notre Dame. He also recovered an Irish fumble at the 1-yard line late in the fourth quarter to allow Yoon to get the game-winning kick.
"To have the season that we've had so far, all of that builds up, whether you know it or not," Kizer said. "To go in that locker room and sing the fight song the way we do when we win, it's a great feeling. It's the reason we come here to play, to win games, and represent the university in the best way we can."
Defensively, the Irish allowed 306 total yards of offense, and just 18 yards rushing. They also sacked Kaaya five times, including two by defensive lineman Jarron Jones, who also had an NCAA season-high 6.0 tackles for loss.
"I think that's about as good a performance that we've had in a while here," Coach Kelly said. "Jarron was outstanding. He was awarded the game ball. What I think stands out to me more than anything else is when your senior is playing his best ball. That says a lot about how he feels about coming to work every day, getting better, regardless of the record. I think that's a real positive for our program and for him individually. He was a beast today out there."
Brad Kaaya completed 26 of 42 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns with one interception for Miami. Stacey Coley had seven catches for 81 yards. Michael Badgely kicked field goals of 43 and 38 to tie the score at 20-20 early in the fourth quarter.
It was the fourth straight loss for Miami (4-4), which fell to 1-9 at Notre Dame Stadium.
Miami: The Hurricanes, who gave up eight sacks against Virginia Tech, struggled along the offensive line early, but took advantage of some big plays. The Hurricanes came up big on special teams with the recovery of a punt by Homer after it bounced off Pride to set up Miami's first touchdown, and a partially blocked punt by linebacker Zach McCloud that set up a field goal. Miami also recovered an onside kick.
Notre Dame: The Irish finally had a game where their offense and defense played well but still struggled with special team gaffes. The Irish had six sacks through seven games but had five against Miami.
"We do sack the quarterback here at Notre Dame," Coach Kelly said. "So for you guys that didn't think that that happened, we do sack the quarterback."
Miami: The Hurricanes return to Atlantic Coast Conference play against Pittsburgh, a team it has beaten nine of the past 10 games.
Notre Dame: The Irish face Navy in Jacksonville, Florida, a team it has beaten five straight after losing two of the previous three.
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10/29/2016 7:43:55 PM (GMT -4:00)