Saturday, September 8, 2018

No. 8 Notre Dame 24, Ball State 16: Irish escape for the second straight week despite a rally by the Cardinals

Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel- Getty Images

By: Jon Opiela
Twitter: @jonopiela24

SOUTH BEND, Ind.— For the second straight week, the No. 8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish were given a fourth quarter scare— the latest being the Ball State Cardinals, but were not able to complete an upset.  Notre Dame (2-0) improved to 60-15-1 against first time opponents in Notre Dame Stadium with a 24-16 victory over Ball State (0-2) on Saturday.

Tony Jones Jr. picked up his first two touchdowns of the season for Notre Dame— 31 and one-yard runs, respectively. Jones finished the contest with 61 yards on 13 carries and the two scores. Jafar Armstrong led all Notre Dame rushers with 66 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown.

Jalen Elliot snagged two passes from Ball State’s Riley Neal to spark the Irish defensively. Elliot became the first Notre Dame safety with multiple interceptions in a game since Harrison Smith in the 2010 Sun Bowl.

Te’von Coney had a huge defensive game for the Irish as well. Coney finished with 14 tackles, three tackles for a loss, and a sack. Alohi Gilman and Drue Tranquill contributed nine tackles each, including one for a loss.

In the second quarter, Ball State put together a drive deep into Notre Dame territory. The Cardinals strung together back-to-back fourth down conversions to keep the drive alive, but had to settle for a 23-yard field goal off the foot of Morgan Hagee.

Ball State added a touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 10-yard pass from Riley Neal to Nolan Givan. Neal completed 23-of-50 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown, to go along with two interceptions.

The Cardinals also picked up 169 yards via the running game, led by James Gilbert’s 72. In addition to his 180 yards through the air, Neal also added 35 yards on the ground.

Known more as a dual-threat quarterback, Brandon Wimbush did not have a play drawn for him to run until the end of the first half. Wimbush completed 17 of 31 passes on the afternoon for a career-high 297 yards with three interceptions. While three interceptions are not ideal for the Notre Dame quarterback, a career game in the pocket may be the key to Irish offense in weeks to come. 

Looking Ahead:

Notre Dame returns home to Notre Dame Stadium next weekend to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores.  Vanderbilt moved to 2-0 on the season with a 41-10 victory over Nevada on Saturday.  Ball State heads to Bloomington, Indiana to take on the Indiana Hoosiers, who are 2-0 heading into Saturday night’s matchup against the Virginia Cavaliers.


Larry said...

Nice to see you and the blog get mentioned on a broadcast. Keep up the good work.