Notre Dame runs to 49-20 rout of Boston College

Written by Brett Korpi

Chestnut Hill, MA- Midway through the third quarter Boston College and Notre Dame were locked in a tight battle in the 24th meeting between the two rival institutions. However, Notre Dame was able to take advantage of a failed BC fourth down attempt to turn the tide of the game and run away to a 49-20 victory, in front of a sellout crowd of 44,500.

After Eagles running back Jon Hilliman was stopped just short of the yard marker on fourth-and-one from Notre Dame’s 30-yard line. The Fighting Irish would put together a nine-play drive, 87-yard drive that featured a 46-yard run by quarterback Brandon Wimbush. Running back Tony Jones finished off the drive with a one-yard touchdown to extend their lead to 21-13.

From there what Notre Dame (2-1) would do would be historic. Behind Wimbush, running backs Josh Adams and Dexter Williams, the Irish would expose the Eagles defense on the ground. Breaking off big play after big play to rack up 515 rushing yards. The most running yards by a Notre Dame team since the Irish had 597 yards against Navy in 1969.

Adams lead the way with 229 yards on 18 carries. Including, runs of 65 yards and 64 yards both of which set up Irish scores. Wimbush ran for 207 yards and four touchdowns. While Williams added two touchdowns on the ground to go along with his 50 yards on eight carries.

After the game, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly emphasized how impactful that fourth-down stop was for the Irish,

“Our defense really ignited us with a fourth down stop, got some energy, and I think when you make plays, obviously, that creates an energy, and we were able to score. I thought that was a pretty big turning point in the second half.”

Kelly, a Massachusetts native would go on to praise the offensive line for the success of the running game. “But I think it all started with our offensive line in terms of being able to run the football.”

The number of rushing yards allowed by the Eagles (1-2, 0-1 ACC) defense was also historic. The 515 yards fell just short of the 516 yards amounted by Army in 2012.

The performance comes as a shocker, as BC’s calling card over the last few seasons has been their defense.

“Our bell cow was defense, and we don’t give up like that rushing yards like that, and we let it up on big plays. It wasn’t like when you get ground pounded to death. Just let up big runs. That’s what happened here. We don’t do that, but we did.” Boston College head coach Steve Addazio said after the game.

Despite the struggles on defense for BC, the game was tight throughout the first two and half quarters.

The Eagles opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 38-yard field goal by Colin Lichtenberg. The junior was 2-for-2 on the day. Special teams were a positive all afternoon for BC with punter Mike Knoll contributing 7 punts inside the Irish 20. Senior place-kicker Max Schulze-Geisthovel had five touchbacks on his five kickoffs in the game.

After Wimbush punched in his first touchdown for Notre Dame. BC answered when quarterback Anthony Brown connected with wide receiver Charlie Callinan on a beautiful touchdown strike to take a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter.

Wimbush would punch in his second touchdown, getting the lead back for the Irish at 14-10 with just under two minutes to go in the half. BC would be forced to punt. However, Lukas Denis would come up with a BC interception to give the Eagles the ball back at midfield with 18-seconds remaining in the half.

Addazio would make a questionable decision to run out the clock at the half citing negative outcomes he did not want to encounter.

“I was worried that we could have an exchange problem and/or a sack fumble at that point, and I didn’t want to take away the momentum and the fight and the confidence of that young quarterback (Brown) at that point in time.”

After Notre Dame fumble BC was able to get within one-point after Lichtenberg hit his second FG to make it 14-13 with 11:25 left in the third quarter.

After that, the infamous fourth down stand would happen to change the course of the game.

The Eagles did make a last bid effort at a comeback. After Wimbush ran 65 yards for his fourth touchdown, BC would mount a 14 play, 75-yard drive where Brown would connect with Callinan again to make it a two-score game. However, Williams would add his two touchdowns midway through the fourth to ice the game for the Irish.

Callinan would finish with seven receptions, 82 yards, and two touchdowns, all career highs.

Jon Hilliman, despite not being able to pick up the yard on the key fourth down play, also had an impressive day running the football for the Eagles. The junior ran for 122 yards on 24 carries.

The veteran was visibly upset after the game citing frustrations with how he felt the game was going to go.

“Honestly, there was zero doubt in my mind we were going to win that game. This one hurts bad.” Hilliman said after the game.
Boston College will have to get over the hurt of the loss quickly. They travel to Death Valley to face a top-five Clemson team next Saturday.

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