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Notre Dame Football

Steel too much: No. 3 Notre Dame rips Pitt, 45-3

October 24, 2020

This week, there was no fourth-quarter intrigue.

Third-ranked Notre Dame got its offense untracked early, had five different players score touchdowns – including defensive end Isaiah Foskey on a blocked punt – and shredded Pittsburgh, 45-3, on the road at Heinz Field.

After mustering just a dozen points in a lethargic win last week against Louisville, the Fighting Irish (5-0, 4-0 ACC) rode a balanced rushing attack, the right arm of Ian Book and a suffocating defense to its largest win this season against a Power-5 opponent.

“This group of guys has a ceiling that's unlimited,” Brian Kelly said on postgame radio.

Graduate-transfer wideout Ben Skowronek, hobbled through much of the first four games with a hamstring injury, broke out in a big way for Notre Dame, scoring the game's first touchdown on a leaping snag and run from 34 yards out into the end zone. Later, Skowronek snared a 50-50 ball that Book had heaved down the left sideline, somehow maintained his balance and outpaced Panthers defenders for a 73-yard score.

Courtesy Kyren Williams' 2-yard touchdown run, and Foskey's blocked punt, on which not a single blocker for Pitt (3-4, 2-4 ACC) impeded Foskey's progress, the Irish led 28-3 by intermission; more points than Notre Dame scored in its opening win against Duke (27) or last week's 12-7 dispatching of the Cardinals.

“You kind of get caught up in the grind of winning football games,” Kelly said. “We kind of said, ‘We're past this. We're not interested in just winning football games.”

Notre Dame's defense continued its season-long dominance as the Irish maintained pace with Clemson atop the ACC standings. Pitt mustered just 162 total yards; it could not regain possession of the ball the final 7 minutes, 52 seconds of the game. The attacking Irish defense amassed six tackles for losses that included a trio of sacks.

Offensively, the Irish scored on seven of their first 10 possessions and outgained the Panthers, 434-162. Williams had 17 carries for just 38 yards as the Pitt defense keyed on the Irish run game, but the Williams-Book-C'Bo Flemister trio delivered 126 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 38 tries.

Notre Dame possessed the ball for 41 minutes, snapped 83 offensive plays and with its stingy defense limited the Panthers to just 53 snaps. Freshman tight end Michael Mayer had a team-high five catches for 73 yards and a score; Skowronek's two catches covered 107 yards and went for the two touchdowns.

Nick McCloud, Bo Bauer and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah all notched interceptions for the Irish, who got a team-best six tackles from safety Shaun Crawford.

The Irish continue the road swing on their modified 2020 slate, with a trip next Saturday to Georgia Tech, (2-4), which lost Saturday at Boston College.

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