Irish Defense Dominant in "Program Win"

Oft-maligned in matchups against triple-option offenses, Notre Dame’s defense made a statement Saturday with a stifling effort against previously potent Georgia Tech.

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A suffocating Notre Defense stymied Georgia Tech’s previously potent triple-option for more than 58 game minutes and C.J. Prosise rushed for a career-high 198 yards and three touchdowns as the host Irish downed Georgia Tech, 30-22 in South Bend.

The previously potent Yellow Jackets had scored 65, 69, and 51 points, respectively over their last three contests dating back to a convincing Orange Bowl victory over Mississippi State.

Middle linebacker Joe Schmidt starred defensively for the eighth-ranked Irish, recording 10 tackles including two for lost yardage with a sack and pair of quarterback pressures.

Notre Dame outgained their visitors 457 to 337 for the contest after dominating a first half that included just 29 Yellow Jackets snaps – 11 of which ended for loss or gains of two yards or fewer.

Georgia Tech converted just 3 of 15 attempts on third down including none of its first nine tries.

“I think our defensive plan was outstanding,” said Irish head coach Brian Kelly. “I think our team executed up until probably the final minutes where we lost a bit of our focus.”

The Yellow Jackets outgained the Irish on the ground by just one yard despite 15 additional attempts. Georgia Tech’s seven punts was the most by the program since the same number in their 2012 season opener against Virginia Tech, a span of 43 games.

Notre Dame struck first with a 46-yard touchdown pass to Will Fuller, converting a 3rd-and-20 in the process. Fuller became the school’s first player since Tom Gatewood in 1970 to record three straight 100-yard games to begin a season.

“We were in three-deep zone. We didn’t get any pressure and he kind of threw up a jump ball,” said Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson. “I thought they were pushing each other, but the kid’s a good player. He makes plays. There’s no way you can double cover him unless you turn somebody loose.”

The offense though was paced by Prosise, who punctuated the proceedings with a 91-yard touchdown run to extend Notre Dame’s lead to 30-7 midway through the fourth quarter. The sprint marks the longest rushing play in Notre Dame Stadium history.

Georgia Tech trimmed a commanding 30-7 lead to 30-15 with a touchdown and two-point conversion at the 0:48 mark, then recovered an onside kick and followed with another touchdown 26 seconds later to produce a closer final margin.

Irish junior wide receiver Torii Hunter, Jr., recovered the Yellow Jackets final onside kick attempt to conclude the contest.

With the victory, redshirt-freshman DeShone Kizer became the fifth quarterback in as many opportunities during the six-year Brian Kelly era in which a first-time starter won his debut.

“I thought that he played very well,” said Johnson. “I thought they had a good plan for him and he executed the plan.”

Senior wide receiver Chris Brown set a career high with eight receptions. Fuller finished with six catches for 131 yards.

“It was a program win today,” said Kelly. "It says you can overcome injuries. You can overcome adversity. I think it's more about where the program is. You can sustain some key injuries and still play at a high level."

Notre Dame improved to 3-0 for the third time in the last four seasons after reaching that mark in just one of the previous 18.


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