CHESTNUT HILL, MA — Big plays can and usually do become a difference maker especially on the road. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish came to Alumni Stadium with a running game that could not be stopped.
They gained 515 yards on the ground and scored all seven touchdowns via the run. The Fighting Irish made a statement that was hard to ignore. When the dust settled, Notre Dame came away with a punishing 49-20 victory over Boston College.
The 515 yards given up by the Eagles defense was the second most rushing yards allowed in BC history. As Head Coach Steve Addazio said afterward, “We did not stop the run, and let up too many big runs.”
Those runs he spoke of belonged to junior running back Josh Adams, who finished the day with 234 yards on 18 carries. In the first half alone, he ripped through the middle of the Eagles defense.
He was not alone in being able to run through BC’s unit. Quarterback Brandon Wimbush ran for 207 yards and added four touchdowns in the process. He went 11-for-24 and 96 yards through the air. It was a bad day all around for Boston College defense.
It did not help that they were missing one of their best players on that side of the ball. Senior linebacker Connor Strachan was out for the game with a knee injury and it led to some reshuffling that had its problems. After the game coach said, “We did not tackle well and missed some gap assignments.”
Still, with all that said this was a 14-13 game with seven minutes left in the third quarter. Boston College had the ball and was driving for what could have been a go-ahead score. With a fourth and one from the Fighting Irish thirty yard line, Addazio decided to go for it instead of trying a long field goal or evening punting the ball to try to pin the Irish deep in their own territory. The fourth down call which was a Jon Hillman run was stopped by the ND defense, the ball was turned over on downs and the tide of this game changed.
Getting the ball back, the Irish quickly went to work and on a third and ten from their own forty-five-yard line, Wimbush calls his own number and races 45 yards down to the BC nine. Three plays later Sophomore running back Tony Jones runs it in from a yard out, 21-13 Notre Dame.
After a three and out by the Eagles offense, the Irish were back in business. On consecutive plays, they landed at the Boston College three-yard line. First, there was a 36-yard run by Adams that was followed up by a 33-yard pass play from Wimbush to Smythe Durham. Winbush finished the drive with a three-yard touchdown run and now it 28-13 Fighting Irish.
Early in the fourth, Wimbush struck again this time a 65-yard run to paydirt, 35-13 ND. An Anthony Brown touchdown pass which was a beauty of a throw to wide receiver Charlie Calliman of 14 yards got the Eagles back to within two scores at 35-20. On the day Brown was 24-40, 215 yards and two TDs both to Calliman who caught seven passes for 82 yards.
Notre Dame finished the game the only way to end it, two more scores on the ground. Dexter Williams, a Junior, would add a touchdown runs of three and fifteen yards to make the final 49-30 Notre Dame.
After the game, there was a lot of talk about Boston College problems stopping the run. Junior Free Safety Lukas Denis said missed communication on the big runs contributed to those problems.
When asked about getting ready for next week’s road test at Clemson, Jon Hilliman, who ran for 124 yards on 22 rushes may have said it best.
“Ballers will step up and imposters will move to the back,” he said.
We shall see who does what.
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