SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The spotlight focused on Notre Dame’s seniors before and after its game against Georgia Tech on Saturday, all part of usual Senior Day festivities, but the Irish underclassmen stole the show during the 55-0 trouncing of the Ramblin’ Wreck.
“You don’t get many of these opportunities as a head coach where you have a Senior Day and you have a resounding victory and it’s not snowing in November in South Bend,” head coach Brian Kelly said. “It was just a terrific day. Guys executed at a high level.”
Only a defensive senior found the end zone on the day recognizing the class, a 70-yard fumble return from fifth-year defensive end Myron Tagovialoa-Amosa that both put a bow on the day and underscored how thoroughly No. 8 Notre Dame (10-1) dominated Georgia Tech (3-8).
“When you’re really looking for teams with that kind of résumé of staying power, of control of a game, that’s really what you’re looking at, is control of games,” Kelly said.
Tagovailoa-Amosa owed some thanks to junior defensive end Isaiah Foskey for forcing the fumble, the second defensive touchdown which began with Foskey draping himself over Yellow Jackets quarterback Jordan Yates.
“I just saw the back of the quarterback, like his whole back, so I just knew he was going to roll ou tor something like that,” Foskey said. “I just went up the field, tried to tackle him, I saw the ball cocking back, and then I’m only going for the ball.
“I just saw his back and I tried to go for the tackle, I didn’t want him to roll out on me again like he did in the second quarter. I just saw the ball and went for the ball and got Myron a touchdown.”
His first turnover-inducing pressure sent a defensive underclassman into the end zone, starting the day’s parade across the goal line as well as establishing the theme for the afternoon of highlights from the youth. Foskey’s pass rush gifted junior linebacker Jack Kiser an interception with no one between him and the end zone, the 57-yard return staking the Irish to a 10-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.
“I didn’t even know [Yates] got the ball off. Tried to wrap him up and I heard the crowd going, and I knew something happened,” Foskey said. “It’s either a fumble or an interception, happened to be an interception. That was a cool experience to see Jack Kiser running into the end zone. … It was fun, seeing I was contributing to that.”
The game could have ended there, with everything that followed serving as mere optics. And a lot followed.
Junior running back Kyren Williams scored twice before the first half had even ended. Between those two, freshman running back Logan Diggs added two touchdowns and junior tight end Michael Mayer caught a 52-yard touchdown pass. No. 8 Notre Dame (10-1) could seemingly do whatever it wanted, except get a senior into the end zone.
Quarterback Jack Coan threw for 285 yards and two touchdowns on 15-of-20 passing, and fifth-year kicker Jonathan Doerer knocked in two field goals, but no senior found the end zone.
A 45-0 halftime lead matched the greatest first-half scoring output from the Irish in the last five years, a stretch in which Notre Dame has won at least 10 games each season and 53 total, reaching back to the first days of the current fifth-year seniors, such as captains Kurt Hinish, Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, Drew White and Avery Davis.
Those fifth-year players lost just twice at home in their careers, while the Irish seniors finished 25-1 in four years at Notre Dame Stadium, and they have never lost in November, with only one game remaining in the month. The demolition of Georgia Tech marked the 16th straight Irish regular-season win in November or December. That streak may reach 17 at Stanford next weekend, kickoff time and broadcast channel yet to be determined.
Williams ended the day, and quite possibly his career at home in a gold helmet, with 15 total touches from scrimmage for 87 yards. Foskey, with the same disclaimer, had one sack, one quarterback hurry and two forced fumbles. He now has 10 sacks this season, slightly off pace his attempt at Justin Tuck’s single-season record at Notre Dame of 13.5, set in 2003.
The Irish defense did not give up a touchdown for the third straight game, a program first since early in the 2012 unbeaten regular season when it held four straight opponents out of the end zone. The shutout was preserved by someone who outscored Georgia Tech on his own, Tagovailoa-Amosa blocking a field-goal attempt at the end of the first half, the Yellow Jackets’ best and arguably only scoring chance.
“Pitching a no-hitter, nobody getting a touchdown, it’s big, but as [defensive coordinator Marcus] Freeman always says, the job’s not done,” junior defensive tackle Howard Cross said. “Focus on Stanford next week and hopefully get to the national championship.”
*DJ Khaled voice* ANOTHER ONE!@NDFootball up 38-0. 😳
— Notre Dame on NBC (@NDonNBC) November 20, 2021
12:35 — Notre Dame field goal. Jonathan Doerer 41 yards. Notre Dame 3, Georgia Tech 0. (5 plays, 25 yards, 2:25)
10:33 — Notre Dame touchdown. Jack Kiser 57-yard interception return. Doerer PAT good. Notre Dame 10, Georgia Tech 0.
4:57 — Notre Dame touchdown. Kyren Williams 9-yard rush. Doerer PAT good. Notre Dame 17, Georgia Tech 0. (9 plays, 65 yards, 3:29)
0:08 — Notre Dame touchdown. Michael Mayer 52-yard pass from Jack Coan. Doerer PAT good. Notre Dame 24, Georgia Tech 0. (4 plays, 69 yards, 1:22)
10:41 — Notre Dame touchdown. Logan Diggs 5-yard rush. Doerer PAT good. Notre Dame 31, Georgia Tech 0. (7 plays, 61 yards, 3:45)
7:21 — Notre Dame touchdown. Logan Diggs 22-yard pass from Coan. Doerer PAT good. Notre Dame 38, Georgia Tech 0. (4 plays, 60 yards, 1:47)
1:29 — Notre Dame touchdown. Williams 1-yard rush. Harrison Leonard PAT good. Notre Dame 45, Georgia Tech 0. (7 plays, 89 yards, 3:01)
6:45 — Notre Dame field goal. Doerer 26 yards. Notre Dame 48, Georgia Tech 0. (6 plays, 86 yards, 3:02)
4:49 — Notre Dame touchdown. Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa 70-yard fumble return. Josh Bryan PAT good. Notre Dame 55, Georgia Tech 0.