Things got off to a great start for the Irish early. Notre Dame drove the ball 82 yards on 8 plays to finish with a 6 yard Audric Estime rushing touchdown. It was a touchdown that was made possible by a fake punt that had Jeremiyah Love easily picking up the first down to keep the drive alive.
Late in the first quarter, Xavier Watts picked off Riley Leonard and the Irish offense got back to work — but after 3 plays the Irish were looking at a 4th and 14 and Spencer Shrader kicked a field goal to make it 10-0.
Notre Dame’s defense put in the work in the second quarter by giving up zero points and only 99 yards. Duke missed its second field goal of the game at the end of the half to help out, but what wasn’t helping out was the Irish offense.
Notre Dame was able to do just enough on offense to kick another field goal to go up 13-0 in the middle of the third quarter — but that’s where the wheels really started to fall off for the Irish.
Duke put together an 11 play 75 yard touchdown drive that featured their power running game with their backs and with Leonard to make it 13-7. Notre Dame’s next two offensive drives went for a grand total of 36 yards. The Blue Devils made Notre Dame pay for the offensive woes, and put together another touchdown drive (this time an 8 play 80 yard sequence that was aided by a Jordan Botelho targeting and ejection for his helmet hitting a thigh) and the Irish went down 14-13.
Sam Hartman and company provided nothing on the next drive with some questionable playcalling by Gerad Parker, and were forced to punt once again. With about 8 minutes left in the game, Duke continued to flex its offensive muscles as they marched down the field a little ways, but ultimately the Irish forced a pooch punt from Riley Leonard and took over on the 5.
Notre Dame went to work and started driving the ball with help from a defensive pass interference flag, and a huge reception by Rico Flores. An offensive pass interference call on Tobias Merriweather really set the Irish back — as before that play — Notre Dame was maybe only 6 yards away from a real FG attempt. Sam Hartman pulled off a gutsy 16 yard 4th down conversion and then...
AND THEN AUDRIC ESTIME WENT WILD!!!!!
Estime went 30 yards for a touchdown run to go up 19-14. The Irish converted the 2 point conversion to go up 21-14 with 31 seconds left in the game.
Notre Dame forced a fumble on the ensuing Duke drive by smoking Riley Leonard, and the Irish leave Durham with a big win over a top 20 team — with the ACC fix absolutely in.
More to come on OFD.