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Notre Dame Football

All buzz, no sting: Notre Dame exterminates Yellow Jackets

November 20, 2021

The best stretch from a Notre Dame defense in nearly a decade is positioning the Fighting Irish to perhaps again stretch their season into the College Football Playoff.

Notre Dame, the No. 8 team in this week's CFP rankings, are winners of six in a row with Saturday's 55-0 dismantling of visiting Georgia Tech.

“Just a terrific day,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said. “Guys executed at a high level. What's not to like about what happened today? No injuries that I was informed of, players played to their potential and we go three weeks now without giving up a touchdown.

“For those that are interested in style points, you don't like me for this, I'm not, but I covered that one, too. I've got to be popular today.”

The Fighting Irish (10-1) also are owners of a program-record fifth-straight season with 10 or more wins; sitting at 53 victories since the start of the 2017 season, Notre Dame is one victory away from posting its largest number of wins in any five-year stretch. Lou Holtz's Irish also won 53 games from 1988-1992.

On perhaps the program's largest-ever senior day, with COVID-19 protocols denying the traditional ceremony a year ago and leaving nearly 40 players to be recognized, Notre Dame erupted for 24 first-quarter points that all but sealed Georgia Tech's fifth consecutive loss.

Jack Kiser's 43-yard pick-six was the game's first touchdown – and the first of two Irish defensive scores. Kyren Williams notched the first of his two scores, and Michael Mayer dissected the Yellow Jackets' defense on a 52-yard seam route in which Mayer never was touched.

“Probably when that ball kind of left Jack's hand,” Mayer said of his scoring strike from Coan. “I knew, the safety was kind of one-high and he kind of went with (George) Takacs, they kind of triple-teamed Takacs on that play. Jack did a good job of finding me, and … pretty easy touchdown.”

Back-to-back Logan Diggs touchdowns – one via ground, one via air – ballooned the edge to 38-0, and Williams' 1-yard plunge lifted the Irish to a 45-0 halftime edge – the most points in a first half for Notre Dame since 2017 vs. Miami (Ohio).

“I'm kind of just looking at Kyren and looking at older guys and watching and it has rubbed off on me,” said Diggs, who had two touchdowns and 26 yards' offense on just three touches.

Notre Dame tacked on 10 more points in the third when Jonathan Doerer converted his second field goal of the afternoon, and senior captain Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa snatched up a fumble forced by Isaiah Foskey, maintained his balance as Tech quarterback Jordan Yates attempted to trip him up and rambled 70 yards to paydirt.

“That was a cool moment,” Foskey said of watching the replay of the score with Tagovailoa-Amosa's and Kelly. “I was showing him that I got his back. The quarterback, I knew, was probably the one person who could stop the whole thing. He's really fast. I just tried to throw the quarterback into the receiver and made a big play happen.

“I was just trying to show him, like, that I got his back and he got mine with the touchdown.”

As explosive as the offense was throughout the afternoon – quarterback Jack Coan hit 15 of 20 passes for 285 yards and the two scores – it was the Irish defense that continued its dominant tear.

No opponent has scored a touchdown on Notre Dame this month – in fact, not since North Carolina scored midway through the fourth quarter on Oct. 30 has the defense yielded a touchdown.

It's the best stretch since the 2012 team, Kelly's first to play for a national title, didn't allow a TD in a three-game stretch against Michigan State, Michigan and Miami from mid-September to early October.

Tech was thwarted with just 11 first downs and only 224 total yards' offense; too, the Yellow Jackets were harassed into three turnovers and stopped 10 times by Irish defenders behind their line of scrimmage.

“I feel like it's just our execution of technique,” said Foskey, who had three tackles, two forced fumbles and two quarterback pressures. “That's what we've been focusing on the past two weeks, especially Navy. It was just technique, technique and it's just carried on. …

“I'm not surprised at all. You probably hear it from Coach Kelly, following the traits all the time. That stuff is real. That's what Coach Freeman has really sold as well, TGS (The Gold Standard). We're not surprised. We've just kept with it.”

Now, Notre Dame continues to prep for its final regular-season game next Saturday at Stanford – and additional scoreboard-watching for the CFP.

Already on this day, the Irish got Michigan State moved from their path when the Spartans were obliterated by Ohio State.

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