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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame Interceptions Doom Syracuse in the Dome

October 29, 2022

Notre Dame worked turnover circuits hard in fall camp and continued to do so once the season started, but the Fighting Irish had recorded just one interception in seven games. 

That changed on Saturday as Notre Dame used two extremely timely interceptions to leave Syracuse with a 41-24 victory over the No. 16 Orange. 

Safety Brandon Joseph picked off Syracuse quarterback Garrett Shrader on the first play of the game and returned it 29 yards to give the Irish the lead just seven seconds into the clash at the JMA Wireless Dome. 

“I was just doing my job,” Joseph stated. “I dropped down into the zone. The quarterback is staring at me and threw it right to me. I took it and that’s pretty much that.”

The 2020 All-American entered the season with nine career interceptions, but Joseph had yet to record a pick six in college and even in high school. When Joseph crossed the goal line, the Texas native quickly found his mother in the stands to celebrate the moment. 

“I didn’t even have one in high school,” laughed Joseph. “This is the first of my career. That’s why you saw me go straight over to my mom. We’ve been talking about this since day one. For it to be my first pick six and to go celebrate with her was huge.” 

Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman has preached starting fast and urgency for weeks and Joseph’s play killed two birds with one stone. 

"To start the game, it was huge,” Freeman said. “To start the game on defense and the very first play, get a pick-six, trust me, that's how you want to start if you can.” 

The second interception came just minutes into the fourth quarter as Notre Dame held a 7-point lead. Linebacker Marist Liufau picked off a Carlos Del Rio-Wilson tipped ball and sealed the deal as the Irish offense scored a touchdown seven plays later. 

For Freeman, it was the play that allowed him to exhale a bit as the Irish gained a little breathing room. 

“They started to get a little bit of momentum in that second half,” explained Freeman. “They were down 14 with the ball and Marist (Liufau) intercepts the ball. We go down there and we score. To me, was the moment that I said, 'Okay, we got it.’” 

Joseph also saw the tide turn in the favor of the Irish on that play and it capped off a day where the Irish finally saw the hard work pay off on the stat sheet. 

“It was a huge moment for the game,” Joseph stated. “We want that emphasis on turnovers at that point in the game. For him to get that pick and for us to get the momentum back and give the ball back to the offense was huge. It was the turning point of that game.” 

The defensive performance also gives Notre Dame some much-needed confidence going into next weekend’s showdown with Clemson. 

“For them to start falling now with the games we have up next and everything we have coming, it’s a great confidence booster for our defense,” Joseph explained. “We’re a defense that puts an emphasis on turnovers and that’s what we expect. With that happening today, it’s really satisfying.” 

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