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Defense Dominates In No. 3 Notre Dame's 36-3 Win Versus No. 12 Syracuse

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Alohi Gillman (11) intercepted two passes while Jalen Elliott (21) added another in the 36-3 Notre Dame win. (Bill Panzica)

For only the fifth time in school history, No. 3-ranked Notre Dame is 11-0 following a 36-3 trouncing of No. 12 Syracuse in the Shamrock Series held in New York’s Yankee Stadium.

Notre Dame’s defense, which recorded six sacks, shut down a prolific Orange offense that entered the contest ranked seventh in scoring offense with a 44.4 scoring average. The lone Syracuse tally came on a 28-yard field goal by Andre Szmyt with 10 seconds left in the contest.

The Orange totaled only 122 yards after three quarters and finished with 234 for the game. Syracuse starting quarterback Eric Dungey was injured on his third series in the first quarter, and without him had no answers versus the relentless Notre Dame defense that intercepted three passes, two by junior safety Alohi Gilman and one by junior safety Jalen Elliott.

It was the first time Notre Dame limited the opposition to single digits since a 44-6 win versus Army in the 2016 Shamrock Series, and it was the fewest points yielded in a game since the 38-3 victory versus Texas in the 2015 opener.

Junior quarterback Ian Book completed 23 of 37 passes for 292 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Junior receiver Chase Claypool snared six passes for 98 yards and a score, while senior Miles Boykin nabbed seven for 76 yards. Senior running back Dexter Williams rushed for 74 yards on 13 carries and capped the Irish scoring with a 32-yard run late in the fourth quarter.

Senior Justin Yoon’s three field goals in as many attempts tied the Notre Dame career record with 57.

FIRST QUARTER: Notre Dame 13, Syracuse 0

Top Moment: With 5:44 left and the Irish leading 10-0, Dungey ran for four yards, rose back up briefly but then doubled over in pain on the right side of his upper body. He was replaced by Tommy DeVito with the Orange trailing 10-0, and DeVito would play the rest of the game.

Top Performer: The Irish passing attack was prolific, with Book completing 11 of his 15 attempts for 169 yards. Senior tight end Alize Mack had three catches for 55 yards and Claypool two for 60 yards.

Stats: Notre Dame had 189 yards total offense on 24 plays, while Syracuse’s 15 plays netted only 59. The Orange were 1 of 6 passing for 10 yards.

Items: With the game scoreless, Notre Dame faced third-and-15 at its 45-yard when a toss over the middle by Book to junior running back Tony Jones Jr. gained 18 yards. Claypool then grabbed a 27-yard pass from Book and two plays later Book found Williams crossing the middle the way he did with Jones for a nine-yard touchdown to conclude a 55-yard drive with 9:15 left.

On Syracuse’s second possession, Elliott on the first play intercepted a slant tossed by Dungey that he returned 24 yards to the Orange 15, setting up a 26-yard field goal by Yoon for a 10-0 advantage at the 7:44 mark.

Yoon kicked his second field goal, from 29 yards, at 1:09, which was set up by a 33-yard toss to Claypool and 47 yards to Mack. That made it 13-0.

SECOND QUARTER: Notre Dame 20, Syracuse 0

Top Moment: Trailing 13-0, Syracuse was driving and appeared to complete a pass to Taj Harris, but Gilman raked at the ball, forcing it to come loose, and then intercepted it for a 54-yard return to the Syracuse nine-yard line. On the next play, sophomore running back Jafar Armstrong took a misdirection hand-off and went untouched for the score and a 20-0 lead with 4:52 remaining until the half.

Top Performer: In addition to the 54-yard interception return, Gilman recorded his initial interception on the first play of the quarter on a deep pass by DeVito that Gilman read and then came over while timing his leap and catch perfectly at the Irish 16-yard line.

Stats: The 37 Syracuse plays in the first half totaled only 130 yards, most notably 5 of 18 passing for only 35 yards and three interceptions. Conversely, Book was 18 of 29 for 253 yards for the Irish, and the running attack added 52 yards on 18 carries.

Items: Syracuse’s second possession of the quarter ended near midfield on a sack by sophomore nose tackle Kurt Hinish.

With the score still 13-0, Notre Dame had fourth-and-goal at the one when a slipping Book forced a pop pass into the end zone that was intercepted by safety Andre Cisco, his sixth of the season, with 6:50 left.

THIRD QUARTER: Notre Dame 29, Syracuse 0

Top Moment: With 3:35 remaining, Notre Dame concluded a 51-yard drive when on third-and-6, Book connected with a well-covered Claypool on a slant for a 10-yard score. During the march, the Irish also benefitted from defensive pass interference on third-and-12, and a 17-yard pass to sophomore tight end Cole Kmet on fourth-and-1.

Top Performer: Notre Dame’s defense dominated by forcing three-and-out on all three Syracuse possessions in the quarter. The nine plays for the Orange totaled minus-eight yards.

Stats: While Syracuse couldn’t generate anything on offense, the Irish also accounted for only 69 yards in the quarter, 5 of 8 passing for 39 yards, and 11 carries for 30 yards.

Items: Following a three-and-out by Syracuse to open the second half, Notre Dame drove 41 yards to set up Yoon’s 29-yard field that increased the margin to 23-0 at the 9:30 mark.

Back-to-back sacks by fifth-year senior linebacker Drue Tranquill and junior end Julian Okwara ended Syracuse’s second series of the half after three plays again.

FOURTH QUARTER: Notre Dame 36, Syracuse 3

Top Moment: Williams’ 32-yard touchdown run with 4:05 left came several plays after backup quarterback Brandon Wimbush had a 35-yard scramble.

Top Performer: Notre Dame's red-zone defense allowed only three points when the Orange twice penetrated inside the Irish 10-yard line.

Stats: Notre Dame finished with nearly twice as much yards, 463 (292 passing, 171 rushing) than the Orange at 234 (119 rushing, 115 passing).

Items: Syracuse's Szymt, who entered the game 27 of 29 on his field goal attempts, missed on a 22-yard attempt, which hit the left upright, with 8:20 remaining. Szymt's 28-yard field goal with 10 seconds left barely went inside the right upright to avoid the goose egg.


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