Saturday, October 28, 2017

Adams, No. 9 Notre Dame Truck No. 14 NC State

Photo Credit: Daniel Barton/Icon Sportswire

By Jon Opiela
Twitter: @jonopiela24

SOUTH BEND, IN – The No. 9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish will remain in the conversation for the College Football Playoff with another victory over a top-15 opponent.  Notre Dame pleased the Irish faithful with an impressive 35-14 victory over the No. 14 North Carolina State Wolfpack.

Early on, Notre Dame had to battle to overcome adversity following a special teams miscue.  Kicking out of his own end zone, Notre Dame punter Tyler Newsome had his punt blocked by James Smith-Williams.  The blocked punt was recovered in the end zone by Germaine Pratt to get the Wolfpack on the scoreboard first.

“When you get a punt block, it has a tendency to really affect your football team.  Our guys
never flinched,” said Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly. “It was as if nothing ever occurred other than let's get back out on the field and get back to work.  That's hard to build.”

The Irish responded with a scoring drive that took just two plays and 0:29 to complete.  Josh Adams broke off a 35 yard run, which set up a 25 yard touchdown pass from Brandon Wimbush to Durham Smythe. 

The rush by Adams allowed him to eclipse 1,000 yards of rushing in a season faster than anybody in school history.  Adams also recorded 100+ yards of rushing for the sixth time this season, including five times before halftime.  Adams became the first player to rush for over 100 yards against the NC State defense this season.  The Wolfpack came into the contest allowing just 88.0 yards per game on the ground, which was good for sixth best in the FBS.

In the third quarter, Adams broke off his nation-leading fourth run of 70 yards or longer.  Adams added the 77 yard touchdown run and broke the game completely open.  Adams finished the contest with 202 yards on 27 attempts and a touchdown.

“Numbers don’t lie.  He’s been productive – maybe more productive than any other college football player right now.  He does things the right way and people may overlook that,” said Wimbush.  “But I’m promoting the hell out of “33 Trucking” and hope he continues to do what he’s doing.”

“33 Trucking” is the campaign that Notre Dame launched for Adams to get national attention in regards to the Heisman Trophy.  Many players, including Brandon Wimbush and Mike McGlinchey wore “33 Trucking” hats while meeting with the media following the victory.

“Josh is a hell of a player.  He makes our job easy up front to open up holes for him,” said McGlinchey, Notre Dame’s starting left tackle.  “He’s so special and should be deserving of any attention that he’s getting.”

Wimbush set a new Notre Dame quarterback record with his eleventh rushing touchdown of the season in the second quarter.  The 3 yard run broke Deshone Kizer’s previous record of ten, which was set in 2015.

The Irish stepped up and made multiple huge plays on the defensive side of the ball as well.  Julian Love intercepted Ryan Finley’s pass and returned it 69 yards for a Notre Dame touchdown.  The touchdown was Love’s second interception returned for a score this season.  Brian Kelly awarded Te’von Coney the game ball for the second straight week following his team-leading nine tackle performance.

Kelly rolled the dice on throwing the challenge flag and it paid off for the Irish.  Wimbush found Kevin Stepherson in the corner of the end zone but the play was initially ruled incomplete.  After the challenge, it was deemed that Stepherson got his foot down in bounds and the call was reversed to a touchdown for the Irish.

“It’s hard to defend just one guy now,” said Wimbush.  “We have guys all across the board who can take the top off of coverage and I think it’s a huge asset to have him and the rest of the guys out there.”

Notre Dame caps off a three-game home stand next Saturday against Wake Forest (5-3, 2-3 ACC).  Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 PM ET and the game will be featured on NBC.