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Quick Recap: Notre Dame plays better for a close win over Cal, 24-17

It was something to watch — and was Marcus Freeman’s first win

NCAA Football: California at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The strange tale of Notre Dame’s 2022 football season continues.

The struggling Irish offense looked dead in the water early against Cal. Drew Pyne started the game off with bad incompletetions, mishandled plays, and poor field awareness. Of course — Cal didn’t do much themselves.

The Irish nad Bears exchanged 7 punts before the Golden Bears finally got it within field goal range — a 45 yarder that Longhetto missed. Two plays later, however, Drew Pyne fumbled the snap away to the Bears. Cal capitalized with a 4 play 33 yarsd touchdown strike to go up 7-0.

The Irish gave a quick answer with a 60 yard touchdown drive to answer Cal’s score. Drew Pyne found a wide open Chris Tyree in the middle of the field for the 21 yard score to tie the game. Cal followed Notre Dame’s score with a 69 yard drive that ended with a 34 yard Longhetto field goal to make it 10-7. Notre Dame sputtered at the end of the half and punted the ball away and watched it roll around as time expired — rather than heaving a hail Mary with 6 seconds left.

Notre Dame looked somewhat improved in the second half thanks to a better running attack and more timely plays. After forcing a 3 and out against Cal to start the 3rd quarter, Notre Dame drove the ball 60 yards — mostly on the back of Audric Estime — and they finished in the endzone with a 1 yard Estime touchdown dive to go up 14-10.

Cal stayed feisty and put together a 10 play 75 yard drive on the strength of their own running game, and got their own short TD run from Jack Plummer. Notre Dame answered with a short drive and a 47 yard field goal from Blake Grupe to tie the game at 17 a piece in the 4th quarter.

Notre Dame’s defense clamped down even harder to start the 4th, and when the Irish got the ball with fair field position, Drew Pyne drove them down the fiewld with a nice catch and run from Audric Estime — and then ultimately a touchdown toss to Michael Mayer to make it 24-17 with 9:16 left in the game.

Notre Dame kept missing the sack and Plummer took Cal down close to redzone — where he was ultimately sacked on 4th down.

Notre Dame was quick to punt the ball back to Cal with a little under 4 minutes left in the game. The Irish pinned Cal back on the one and forced a punt.

Notre Dame was called for targeting on a play where Clarence Lewis intercepted the ball. Instead, Cal got new life and 15 yards — and drove the ball down the field. Chaos ensued and the airing held on.

Mire to come on OFD.