Prosise finished with 149 rushing yards in what amounted to less than two-and-a-half quarters of action, scoring on runs of 57 and 16 yards among his 15 carries. The Irish backfield received additional contributions from the freshman tandem of Josh Adams and Dexter Williams, the latter scoring his first career touchdown, a sprint left from 14 yards out while Adams punctuated the proceedings with a 70-yard score midway through the final period.
Adams finished with 133 yards on just 13 carries.
"We were able to get a lot of players some playing time," said Irish head coach Brian Kelly. "The young 'backs stand out to me and that was very important to us."
While the final 30 minutes served as a showcase of Notre Dame’s offensive prowess, the opening stanza proved more competitive than expected. With the host Irish scuffling to a 21-20 at the 3:28 mark of the second quarter, Sanders took back a Logan Laurent punt for a darting 50-yard score, eluding three would-be tacklers along the way.
“We put a little shock into them and woke them up in the second quarter,” said Massachusetts head coach Mark Whipple. “We just couldn’t handle their offensive line. Their offensive line dominated us. They’re better than we are so – we’ll take the money and run.”
Notre Dame rushed for a whopping 457 yards, the fourth straight contest in excess of 200 rushing yards, a first for the program at a season’s outset since Lou Holtz’s No. 1 ranked Irish of 1989. The 457 yards marked the most by a Notre Dame team since 1995.
Quarterback DeShone Kizer completed an economical outing with 15 completions in 22 attempts, though a handful of his incomplete tosses were bounced throws in front of his targets. Kizer hit Chris Brown for a 7-yard touchdown toss near the conclusion of the second stanza to extend the Irish lead to 35-20, previously connecting with junior Will Fuller for a 26-yard scramble and strike.
The reception marked Fuller’s sixth touchdown of the season and 21st in his last 17 contests dating back to the 2014 season opener.
"I thought DeShone missed some throws today," said Kelly. "He got a little off balance on some of his throws, especially to his left where he has a tendency to over-stride a bit. He made corrections later…he can self-correct which is a great thing about that young man. He shows great poise, great presence out there."
Rounding out the host’s touchdown parade was backup quarterback Brandon Wimbush with a 58-yard rush late in the third quarter. Five different Irish players rushed for touchdown including three true freshmen and a redshirt-freshman.
Massachusetts stayed close for the better part of 30 minutes thanks to a balanced attack that produced 276 first half yards and three touchdowns including an 83-yard scoring sprint by running back Marquis Young to end the first quarter.
“When you have an offensive line like they have, and you have Prosise back there, and you have to double (Will Fuller),” offered Whipple, “…they have what it takes to have a great offense.”
The win improves the Irish to 4-0, the third such start in Kelly’s six seasons at the helm and only the seventh for the program in its last 30.