IRISH HOLD OFF CAL BEARS 24 - 27 TO GIVE COACH FREEMAN HIS FIRST WIN: A game winning hail mary attempt by the Cal Bears falls short as the Irish hold off for their first victory of the season, giving Coach Freeman his first victory as HC
BY: EVAN J. THOMAS
SOURCE - ESPN
A teeth chattering hail mary attempt failed on the final play of the game giving the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and head coach Marcus Freeman his first career victory as the Irish held off the Cal Bears 24 - 17.
After a slow start, QB Drew Pyne passed for two touchdowns and 150 yards in his first career start as Notre Dame overcame numerous mistakes, including two potentially game-clinching turnovers were overturned, one on a targeting penalty and another when Cal quarterback Jack Plummer was ruled down before he fumbled.
"It was a conversation between me and God, and a conversation between me and myself to focus on what matters," Freeman said.
The Irish (1-2) outscored Cal (2-1) 10-0 in the fourth quarter to avoid becoming just the third Notre Dame squad to start a season 0-3. The Irish, who started the season ranked No. 5, had blown leads three times, made sure there was no second-half letdown this time.
"Found a way to finish," Freeman said. "I'm proud of those guys. You know what, it is hard to win football games. It's hard. You've seen it in the first three games. It's hard."
The game wasn't over until the last play as officials overturned two plays that appeared to be game-clinching turnovers for the Irish, giving the Bears a last-second shot. On fourth-and-13 from the Notre Dame 35, Cal's Jack Plummer threw the ball into the end zone. The ball bounced off several players and Bears receiver Jeremiah Hunter nearly pulled it in, but the ball landed on the grass.
It was a familiar feeling for the Bears, who had five losses by seven points or less last season.
Notre Dame tailback Chris Tyree said it was hard to watch. "They almost gave me a heart attack out there, man," he said. "It's really exciting football to watch, especially when it goes down to the wire like that. That's going to be a moment we'll never forget."
Notre Dame took a 24-17 lead with 9:16 remaining on a 6-yard pass from Pyne to TE Michael Mayer. The touchdown was set up when Pyne threw a short pass to tailback Audric Esitime, and he sprinted for a 36-yard gain before tripping at the 6-yard line.
Pyne finishes the game 17-of-23 passing. In addition to the scoring pass to Mayer, Pyne threw a 21-yard TD pass to Tyree. Tyree, rushed for 64 yards on 17 carries and had five catches for 44 yards. Estime added a 1-yard run and 76 yards rushing on 18 carries
Freeman said he'd take a moment to savor the win. "If you don't take a minute to enjoy these things, you're going to regret it," he said. "That's what I keep reminding myself is enjoy the victory."
QB Pyne - 17/23, 150 yds, 2 TDs
RB Estime - 18 carries, 76 yds, 1 TD, 3 catches, 43 yds
RB Tyree - 17 carries, 64 yds0, 5 catches, 44 yds, 1 TD
WR Styles - 3 catches, 29 yds
WR Lenzy - 3 catches, 20 yds
TE Mayer - 2 catches, 10 yds, 1 TD
Defense - 6 sacks
IRISH DROP HOME OPENER 26-21: Notre Dame falls to 0-2 for the first time since 2011 after their 26-21 defeat to Marshall in the home opener.
IRISH DROP OPENER 21-10: #5 Notre Dame dropped their season opener to #2 Ohio State 21-10 in Coach Freeman's regular season debut
BY: EVAN J. THOMAS
#5 Notre Dame was a 17.5 point underdog in their opening game at #2 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. The opening game for the Irish marks the first regular season game for new Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman and fitting it was against his alma mater.
Buckeyes QB C.J. Stroud threw two touchdown passes and Ohio State held the Irish offense scoreless over the final 42 minutes in the 21-10 loss.
The Irish defense frustrated Heisman Trophy finalist Stroud throughout the game and had a few first half scoring drives.
"We battled for 2 1/2 quarters, but then they scored with 17 seconds left in the third and we didn't respond," Freeman said.
The Buckeyes defense was tough on the Irish and new starting quarterback Tyler Buchner in the second half.
"We were called soft all last year and we had to sit there and just eat," Ohio State defensive back Lathan Ransom said.
The Irish managed just 253 offensive yards and punted on their last six possessions. Buchner completed his first eight passes and then went 2 for 10 the rest of the way. The Irish got creative and made some big catches in the first half to move the ball but ran out of answers.
"Ohio State's a really talented team, they're defense is awesome and you can't give the ball back to their offense, so when it wasn't clicking in the second half, it killed us," Buchner said.
On a third-and-long, Notre Dame brought multiple blitzers and Ohio State gave Stroud plenty of time to find Xavier Johnson open down the vacated deep middle for a 24-yard score. That put the Buckeyes up 14-10 with 17 seconds left in the third quarter.
On its next drive, Ohio State asserted itself. The Buckeyes went 95 yards on 14 plays, killing seven minutes off the clock and making it 21-10 on a 1-yard surge by Miyan Williams.
The Irish offense didn't look very confident in their play calling and to me that was the main problem. Couldn't establish the run and be consistent with 30 carries for just 76 yards.
QB Buckner - 10/17, 177 yds
RB Tyree - 6 carries, 28 yds
RB Estime - 9 carries, 21 yds, 1 TD
TE Mayer - 5 catches, 32 yds
Evan J. Thomas is an award winning photographer, podcast & Radio host, media mogul and all around "Creative Genius".