The Notre Dame Fighting Irish rushed for 223 yards and three touchdowns as they ran all over the UNLV Rebels, 44-21, Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish came into today’s game against the UNLV Rebels as 27 point favorites and a huge chip on its shoulders to perform like a team that has that big of a spread.
Notre Dame had its best start of the season and its first touchdown in the first quarter on the year with a 6 play, 75 yard drive that ended with a 12 yard Audric Estime touchdown run. The play was set up by a 37 yard pass from Drew Pyne to Jayden Thomas.
On UNLV’s opening possession, the Irish forced a three and out and Isaiah Foskey shot through like a cannonball to block the punt. The Irish sputtered with the ball, however, and Blake Grupe came out to sneak in a 43 yard field goal that was well played with the wind to go up 10-0.
Guts started to turnover on the Rebels next drive. On the second play of the possession, Courtney Reese took off for a 76 yard run that ended near the endzone. On the very next play, Jordan Younge-Humphrey bounced it outside to make it 10-7.
At 10-7, Notre Dame punted on a quick three and out, but did the same to UNLV. The rebels had 10 drives total in the first half and never ran more than three plays in a drive.
Foskey blocked his second punt of the first quarter, and Drew Pyne hit Michael Mayer for a 20 yard TD reception to go up 17-7.
Through a combination of missed opportunities, an Estime fumble, and general sloppy play, the Irish turned two short fields into a grand total of two Blake Grupe field goals to go up 23-7.
With the Irish driving late in the second quarter, Drew Pyne took off towards the ends zone and was rocked at the one yard line — a play that SHOULD have been called targeting, but was not on the field or in the booth. Steve Angeli comes out on the field to play quarterback for a banged up Pyne, but tight end Mitchell Evans was motioned to set up behind center and ran the QB sneak to put Notre Dame up 30-7.
Pyne eventually returned to the field in the first half after a few plays of Angeli handing the ball off, but a batted pass turned into an interception which effectively ended the first half.
The third quarter was owned by UNLV, as they pieced together a nine-play, 76-yard touchdown drive that cut the lead to 30-14. Pyne continued to struggle, going 2-of-5 in the third with just 18 yards of offense. The rushing game was slightly better, with Diggs and Tyree splitting 11 carries for 50 yards.
The Irish finally returned to the scoreboard with a 13-play, 62-yard drive that included 12 running plays. UNLV would quickly respond with its own 11 play, 74-yard touchdown drive to cut the Irish lead to 37-21.
The Rebels tried an aggressive onside kick that very nearly worked, but the Irish took over at midfield and immediately went to bleed the clock to zeroes with a rush-heavy drive. Pyne finished the drive with a simple flip toss to Lenzy that went for six, and Notre Dame extended its lead to 44-21.
Pyne finished a pedestrian 14-for-28 for 205 yards and two touchdowns, with one touchdown. He also had the long rush of 21. Diggs ran 28 times for 130 yards and Mayer had six catches — all the in first half — for 115 yards and a touchdown.
J.D. Bertrand — who was called for, but ultimately not charged with, his third targeting penalty — led all Irish tacklers with seven tackles. Foskey had three sacks, five tackles and was credited for an additional QB hurry.