Nov. 14, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - On a day when the University of Notre Dame honored the seniors on its football team, the Fighting Irish took another step toward authoring what may become a season that brings many more memorable moments.
Notre Dame defeated Wake Forest, 28-7, Saturday to stay in the hunt for a College Football Playoff berth.
Saturday's victory allowed the Irish seniors to put the finishing touches on a perfect 6-0 record at Notre Dame Stadium this season. The senior class also experienced a perfect home season in 2012. It is the third perfect home season for the Irish since 1990, the other coming in 1998.
No. 6 Notre Dame (9-1) entered the Wake Forest game in the fourth spot in the playoff rankings, behind Clemson, Alabama and Ohio State. The top four teams in the rankings advance to the college football playoffs that determine the national champion. Wake Forest dropped to 3-7 with the loss.
Coach Brian Kelly's Irish took command early.
After grinding out a 10-play, 67-yard scoring drive capped by a 12-yard TD scramble by DeShone Kizer with 3:06 left in the first quarter, the Irish jolted Wake Forest with a pair of stunning big plays on the way to a 21-0 halftime lead.
Andrew Trumbetti turned in some grand-theft football when the 6-foot-3, 260-pound defensive lineman picked off a pass and ran 28 yards for a touchdown with 2:46 left in the first quarter.
''Notre Dame is a very good football team. They don't need our help, and we gave them a lot of help tonight,'' Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said.
In the second quarter, Notre Dame's defense stonewalled the Demon Deacons with a goal-line stand that gave the Irish the ball at their one. After a one-yard gain, Kizer handed the ball to Adams, who broke loose on the right side and sprinted for a record-setting 98-yard touchdown with 9:59 left until halftime.
Adams' 98-yard TD run is the longest play from scrimmage in Notre Dame's storied gridiron history, and it tied the longest rush by a freshman in NCAA history. The previous longest play in Notre Dame history was a 96-yard TD strike from Blair Kiel to Joe Howard against Georgia Tech in 1981. The previous longest running play for the Irish was a 92-yard TD run by Bob Livingstone in 1947 against USC.
Adams tied an NCAA freshman mark set by Jerald Sowell of Tulane at Alabama in 1993, and tied by Jordan Parker of Middle Tennessee against Troy in 2012.
''Obviously, the run was one for the highlight reel: Physical, explosive, sheds off a tackler,'' Kelly said. ''Obviously a big play where we're backed up, and just a terrific run.''
A 6-foot-1, 212-pound freshman, Adams' 98-yard TD run is also the longest play from scrimmage in the nation this season, topping the previous longest play, which was a 95-yard TD run by Hawaii's Paul Davis against UC Davis on Sept. 19.
''When I broke it, all I could see was (receiver) Chris Brown running down faster than I was down the sidelines, so I was like, ''I gotta catch up.' He did a great job blocking downfield,'' Adams said.
Notre Dame's C.J. Prosise raced 91 yards earlier this season (against Georgia Tech on Sept. 19), giving the Irish two touchdowns of at least 90 yards this season. In the previous 126 seasons combined, there had only been two TD runs that long.
Wake Forest closed to 21-7 on a one-yard run by quarterback John Wolford with 2:40 left in the third quarter.
A five-yard TD run by Kizer with 10:58 left in the fourth quarter highlighted a six-play, 68-yard drive and pushed the Irish lead to 28-7.
''The one thing that DeShone does is when the moment is big, he rises to it,'' Kelly said.
Kizer said it was frustrating that the Irish struggled, but said they have to take it as a positive.
''Now being off the field and realizing that it's November and we just came out with a 21-point win, it's huge for us,'' he said. ''We're moving forward. We have a win streak going.''
Kizer finished 13-of-19 passing for 111 yards. Adams led the rushing attack with 141 yards on 17 carries.
Romeo Okwara highlighted a bone-jarring Irish defensive effort with three quarterback sacks. Jaylon Smith made 14 tackles, and Joe Schmidt rocked the Demon Deacons for 10 tackles.