THE SCRIMMAGE NUMBERS LIED
Notre Dame scored 33 points in the first half despite a combined 1-for-7 effort in its attempts to convert on third and fourth down. The defense, conversely, yielded 27 despite stopping the Orange on a combined 6-of-8.
For the contest, Kelly’s Irish made good on 3-of-13 but still produced 41 points offensively (9 courtesy special teams) while Syracuse was successful on an aggregate 4-of-17 third- and fourth-down conversions but put up 33 offensive points.
The two teams’ offenses combined for 74 official rushes (37 apiece) and 309 yards despite suffering 39 Stuffs (including sacks) – more than half of the game’s carries.
They weren’t perfect – not after allowing a 74-yard punt return to set up a late-first half touchdown – but Notre Dame’s special teams won the day inside MetLife Stadium.
- Jarron Jones (block) and Cole Luke (return) combined for two points on a blocked PAT that instead resulted in a first quarter sprint-and-score for Luke.
- C.J. Sanders took back a second quarter Syracuse kickoff 93 yards for a score.
- Chase Claypool chased down a Tyler Newsome punt of 42 yards to place it at the Orange 1-yard line. Syracuse punted three plays and two yards later to set up a Notre Dame field goal.
- Claypool made his presence felt on Syracuse’s aforementioned long put return, chasing down and tackling return man Brisly Estime from behind, the last defender with a chance to do so.
- Syracuse’s final touchdown – their only score of the second half – was followed by a failed two-point conversion attempt that concluded with a tackle for loss.
GAINS AND GASHES
Notre Dame’s offense and special teams produced 11 plays of 20 yards or greater, courtesy eight different Irishmen:
-- Equanimeous St. Brown: touchdowns of 79 and 67 yards, plus a 20-yard reception.
-- C.J. Sanders: a 93-yard kick return score
-- Torii Hunter, Jr.: grabs of 24 and 23 yards
-- Dexter Williams: a highlight reel, reverse-field touchdown run of 54 yards.
-- Kevin Stepherson: a 54-yard touchdown catch
-- Cole Luke: covered more than 65 yards on a blocked PAT returned for two points.
-- Josh Adams: a 44-yard catch-and-run on a wheel route.
-- Miles Boykin: a 25-yard catch
-- Notre Dame added gains of 19 and 13 (Sanders) 15 (St. Brown), 14 (Durham Smythe), 13 (Nic Weishar, his first catch of the season), 12 (Adams), and 11 yards (Hunter) that resulted in first downs.
THE SEASON’S BEST DEFENSIVE STRETCH
Syracuse’s first half offense produced three touchdown drives in excess of 75 yards Saturday – an occurrence that became to define the Brian VanGorder Era (64 in 30 contests as coordinator).
Though off to an inauspicious start in that realm, Notre Dame’s defense rebounded thereafter, allowing just 119 yards on 40 Syracuse snaps en route to a 50-27 lead. The Orange came up empty and punted on nine of 10 drives in that span, punting seven times and turning the ball over on downs twice.
Only Estime’s previously mentioned 74-yard punt return that was followed by a two-play, 14-yard “drive” for a touchdown dented the Irish defense between 13:22 mark of the second quarter and a final cosmetic touchdown with 6:52 remaining.
STUFFS IN THE SWAMP
Notre Dame’s defense recorded a three-season (31 games) high 22 Stuffs Saturday at MetLife Stadium.
Leading the charge were juniors Nyles Morgan (3.5), Drue Tranquill (3) and Daniel Cage (2, back-to-back) along with Isaac Rochell (2, also back-to-back) and sophomore Te’von Coney (2, both in the first half).
Also involved in the scrimmage parade:
-- Jay Hayes (1.5)
-- 1 apiece for Elijah Taylor 1 (on his second career snap), Andrew Trumbetti, Jerry Tillery, Asmar Bilal, James Onwualu, (one credited to the Irish team defense), plus Donte Vaughn (0.5, shared with Morgan) and Jonathan Bonner (0.5, shared with Hayes).
Notre Dame’s 22 Stuffs on Syracuse’s 37 official rushes tied the defense’s largest total (22) for the second-best percentage (59.4% of carries including sacks) since Irish Illustrated began tracking the statistic at the outset of the 2014 campaign. Notre Dame registered 22 Stuffs on Temple’s 32 total rushes (68.7%) on Halloween 2015.