The Notre Dame Fighting Irish and North Carolina Tar Heels decided they were going to start the game with wind sprints. Irish running back, Kyren Williams, was more than willing to answer the call with a 199 yard rushing game.
After both teams punted on failed 8 play drives to start the game, the race was on.
Kyren Williams returned that UNC punt 47 yards, which turned into a short drive that ended with a 7 yard touchdown pass from Tyler Buchner to Avery Davis. North Carolina answered right away with an 81 yard touchdown drive that got a big boost from a 41 yard wheel route to Josh Downs (thanks to a missed OPI call).
Avery Davis finds the end zone!@NDFootball strikes first.— Notre Dame on NBC (@NDonNBC) October 31, 2021
: NBC and @peacockTV pic.twitter.com/WjGtLRDiZi
Both teams traded 13 play 62 yard drives each that resulted in a field goal, before the Irish scored on a gorgeous behind the shoulder touchdown pass from Jack Coan to Kevin Austin to go up 17-10 with 1:59 left in the half.
Perfect placement on the back shoulder TD!— Notre Dame on NBC (@NDonNBC) October 31, 2021
: NBC and @peacockTV // @NDFootball pic.twitter.com/gDtC6qlk6k
Notre Dame used its dime defense right away on Carolina’s ensuing drive, and the Heels did a ton of damage on the ground as they marched down the field. Notre Dame kept UNC out of the endzone, but the Heels made it 17-13 with 2 seconds in the half.
North Carolina took the opening drive of the second half 79 yards on 5 plays to quickly go on top of the Irish 20-17. Notre Dame answered with an even quicker drive of 75 yards on 3 plays that saw Jack Coan run it in from 21 yards out to retake the lead, 24-20.
Jack Coan shows off the wheels! @NDFootball back on top 24-20.— Notre Dame on NBC (@NDonNBC) October 31, 2021
Watch the second half NOW on NBC and @peacockTV. pic.twitter.com/jOSU10n3JZ
It was a scary moment in the middle of the third quarter when Kyren Williams went down with an apparent knee injury. The Irish finished off that 81 yard drive with a Logan Diggs 1 yard TD run that put ND up 31-20, and Williams was out of the injury tent ready to go.
After North Carolina answered with a 75 yard TD drive, Notre Dame answered with their first 3 and out punt of the night. The Irish forced a punt from the Heels that landed on Notre Dame’s 9 yard line. On the very first play of the drive, Kyren Williams took a handoff 91 yards for the touchdown — the run was amazing and looked to be almost stopped behind the line before Williams broke loose.
"PLAY OF THE YEAR FOR THE IRISH!" -@miketirico @Kyrenwilliams23 takes it 91 yards to the HOUSE!— Notre Dame on NBC (@NDonNBC) October 31, 2021
: NBC and @peacockTV pic.twitter.com/8bOP78p1Ey
D.J. Brown intercepted a Sam Howell pass on UNC’s next possession, but Jonathan Doerer had to come out to knock in the field goal after a redzone fizzle. The field goal put Notre Dame up 41-27 with 11:52 left in the game.
The Tar Heels and Sam Howell fought on, and the quarterback finished off a 75 yard drive with a 31 yard TD drive to make it 41-34. Notre Dame took almost 6 minutes off the clock on their next possession. The Heels held them on 3rd and goal, and Jonathan Doerer kicked in the short field goal to make it 44-34 with 1:37 left in the game.
North Carolina moved down the field, but Jordan Botelho got a hold of Sam Howell for an intentional grounding call with 16 seconds left in the game. The 10 second runoff was used, and the last play fell short. Irish win, 44-34.
More to come on OFD.