CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - As the final seconds ticked off the clock Saturday night inside Alumni Stadium, a member of the Notre Dame football program’s support staff sprinted toward the locker room holding a couple helmets and a sledgehammer.
That weapon of mass demolition usually goes to Prince Shembo, who swings it on Notre Dame’s sideline and nearly considers the tool part of his standard equipment. Turns out Shembo got a replacement for that sledgehammer from Brian Kelly after Notre Dame’s 21-6 victory.
A game ball.
“It’s in my bag right now,” Shembo said. “I’m keeping this.”
Shembo finished with five tackles, four tackles for loss, three sacks and a fumble recovery off a Stephon Tuitt stop in the final minute that put Notre Dame into kneel down mode.
The three sacks are the most by an Irish player since Victor Abiamiri had that many against Stanford in 2006.
Shembo’s stats came at key moments too. On Boston College’s second possession it drove to a 2nd-and-5 at the Notre Dame eight-yard line. After back-to-back tackles for loss by Shembo - he threw Rolandan Finch for a three-yard loss on second down and sacked Chase Rettig for an eight-year loss on third down - the Eagles settled for a 36-yard field goal.
“I was just playing football like I was told to play,” Shembo said. “I didn’t do nothing special, just chasing quarterbacks. That’s how I was taught, so just having fun. Not doing nothing different.
“In past weeks I’d get to the quarterback and (he’d) just throw the ball every time or throw it out of bounds. This guy wanted to hold it. So I was, ‘All right, cool. About time.’”
Shembo now has seven sacks on the season. That slots him between Tuitt, who leads the Irish with 10 quarterback takedowns, and Kapron Lewis-Moore. The fifth-year senior had a fourth down sack of Rettig early in the fourth quarter, pushing his season sack total to four-and-a-half.
The Irish have 30 sacks in 10 games, five more than last year’s 13-game total.
Shembo ran up numbers against Boston College in part because the Eagles devoted extra attention to Tuitt, sliding protection schemes toward the defensive end. The sophomore finished with just one tackle, a hit on Rettig behind the line of scrimmage that was scored as a tackle for loss in the box score.
Shembo recovered the Tuitt forced fumble, as the paired played off one another all night.
“Making sure they were paying special attention to a guy that’s a double-digit sack guy,” Kelly said of Boston College’s blocking schemes. “Prince got a lot of one-on-one opportunities.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Prince, he played great football tonight, but again, the way it went tonight was that somebody else had to step up based upon the way they were protecting.”
Shembo stepped up. He got a game ball for it.