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Throwback Thursday: Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Virginia Cavaliers

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Will Cavalier hearts break once again?

Notre Dame v Virginia
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - SEPTEMBER 12: Wide receiver William Fuller #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish catches the game-winning touchdown pass in front of cornerback Maurice Canady #26 of the Virginia Cavaliers in the fourth quarter at Scott Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish won, 34-27.
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

When someone mentions Notre Dame vs. Virginia, the imagery that appears in my head is pretty clear. The year was 2015, and one moment (okay, maybe two) shines brightly in my mind, but we’ll get to that a bit later. Right now, let’s take a look at the last time the Notre Dame Fighting Irish met the Virginia Cavaliers.

First, a little background on the series. The two teams have met twice before, with the Irish winning both meetings. The largest margin of victory by the Irish is 23 points (36-13 Notre Dame). Here are some stats from Winsipedia.com.

In 2015, Notre Dame headed down to Charlottesville, VA, to play the Virginia Cavaliers. Notre Dame’s first drive stalled and they lined up for the field goal, but wait, it was a fake. Kizer flipped the ball to Durham Smythe, and Smythe found the end zone for the first Irish touchdown. The Irish then went for two (who does that on the first drive?) and missed, taking the early lead: ND 6- UVA 0. The Irish controlled most of the first half, going up 12-0 before the Cavaliers would finally get points on the board. With 3:10 remaining in the half, and the Irish up 12-7, Virginia busted out a bit of trickery of their own. Quarterback Matt Johns, lined up as a wide out, made the pitch, and hit Keeon Johnson for a 42 yard touchdown, and the score was 14-12 Cavaliers at halftime.

In the third quarter, Malik Zaire went deep, hit Will Fuller for a beautiful 59 yard touchdown, and Notre Dame retook the lead, 19-14. And then it happened. On a Zaire keeper, Malik went down and had to be carted off the field, with what we would later find out to be a broken ankle; out for the season. (This was the year Notre Dame was featured on Showtime’s “A Season With” ... and the scene in the locker room with Malik, his parents, and Coach Kelly still breaks my heart. Unfortunately, football is a game of who can stay healthy the longest.)

DeShone Kizer, the next man in, took over on downs, and the game was now in his hands. He handed the ball off to CJ Prosise for a 24-yard touchdown run (155 yards on the day), and the Irish went up, 26-14. But Virginia was not going to just lay down and die. With 2:34 left in the game (ND 26 - UVA 21), the Cavaliers had the ball, and Ryan Santoro made his first catch of the game, getting his team to within five, and setting up an easy Albert Reid touchdown, giving the Cavaliers the lead back, ND 26 - UVA 27. Virginia decided to go for two, which didn’t work out, and so it was still a one point game.

Notre Dame got the ball back, and with 18 seconds left, it was up to Kizer to wake up the echoes. From 39 yards out he tossed a bomb to Will Fuller (who had 5 catches, 124 yards and 2 touchdowns on the day), who scored the touchdown with 12 seconds left on the clock. This brings up one of the images that is emblazoned in my mind from this game (below), and Notre Dame survived, final score: ND 34 - UVA 27.

The Irish broke Cavalier hearts in 2015 (Photo: Screen capture from ESPN.)

Want to relive the magic? Here are some game highlights:

Do you think this week’s game with be a close match-up? Or do the Irish handily take care of business? Give me your thoughts!

Cheers & GO IRISH!