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Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame Explodes Past Lobos

September 14, 2019

This, well, this was more on brand.

And the scoring drives looked more like stopwatch-times from a track meet.

Seventh-ranked Notre Dame, first with true freshman Kyle Hamilton’s pick-six to open scoring and then with a barrage of quick strikes, annihilated visiting New Mexico 66-14 Saturday before a sold-out Notre Dame Stadium crowd.

It marked a day in which four Irish players scored their first career touchdowns as Notre Dame scored its most points in a home opener since 1932. The Irish’s nine scoring drives averaged 1 minute, 45 seconds each.

"I thought that our team kind of found themselves a little bit today," said Irish coach Brian Kelly. "We have been looking to go into a second week here and put the pieces together. And I think by and large, they started to fall together for us today.

"We saw a number of different players on the offensive side of the ball have significant roles in what we did offensively, and that was kind of what we were expecting to kind of happen today and it came to fruition."

After Hamilton stepped in front of an out-route in the flat and dived into the end zone to punctuate his 34-yard return, the Fighting Irish constructed a 35-0 and 38-7 halftime lead with a dizzying set of scoring salvos.

Avery Davis catalyzed a five-play, three-touchdown sequence for the Notre Dame offense that elapsed just 49 seconds of game clock when Davis snared a shovel pass from Ian Book and raced wholly untouched 59 yards into the end zone for a 21-0 edge.

Rick Kimball/ISD
Avery Davis runs for his first career TD

Following a punt, Book hit Javon McKinley on a crossing route and McKinley --- with a powerful downfield block from Chris Finke --- did the rest on a 65-yard touchdown. After the second of ND’s three first-half interceptions of New Mexico quarterback Sheriron Jones, this one by Jalen Elliott, Book hit Chase Claypool on back-to-back passes, the latter covering 37 yards for six and a 35-0 lead.

Notre Dame’s longest scoring drive of the first half was a somewhat-plodding, 10-play, 49-yard drive that Book finished off when he scraped across the goal line on fourth-and-goal from the 1.

The Lobos (1-1) got their lone score of the first half when diminutive Bryson Carroll sped virtually untouched into the Irish end zone from 47 yards moments before halftime.

But that again left Notre Dame’s Roadrunner unit too much time. Moving 46 yards in four plays, the Fighting Irish cruised into the break up 38-7 after Jonathan Doerer drilled a 36-yard field goal.

Notre Dame opened second-half scoring in similar fashion, as it utilized Chris Finke on a play similar to that of Davis, and Finke dashed 54 yards to paydirt.

The sequence capped a stretch in which the Irish scored 31 points on 11 offensive snaps that purged just 117 seconds from the clock.

“It was just a toss play, and I had one guy to get around,” Finke said. “I had some great blocking.”

The Irish had 52 points in less than 15 minutes’ possession with 20 minutes left in the game. They pushed their lead to 59-7 after Phil Jurkovec subbed in for Book and C’Bo Flemister rushed in on fourth-and-goal from a yard away.

Notre Dame finished with 591 yards of offense, an average of 9.1 yards-per-play.

Next week’s opponent, third-ranked Georgia, fashioned a similarly overpowering 55-0 win against Arkansas State. The Irish visit the Bulldogs Saturday night under the lights in Sanford Stadium for an early-season tilt that catapults the victor into an early foothold in the College Football Playoffs.

"I think we just gotta go into, it’s going to be a hostile environment, and we’ve got to go in there and play our game and just focus on us, focus on small details," said Book, who finished 15-for-24 for 360 yards and five touchdowns. "That’s what it takes to win on the road. We talk about having a road-warrior mindset. That’s what it’s going to take for us.

“We’ve been talking about this (Georgia) game for a while. It feels good to win this one. Once tomorrow comes, it’s Georgia week and we’ve been looking forward to it. It’s time. So it’s time to take advantage of it."

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