SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame’s defense got going after stuffing Nevada on a fourth-and-1 from the 17 on Nevada’s first possession. The offense didn’t get going until the second quarter.
Nevada (1-1) was no match for the 18th-ranked Fighting Irish once they got both sides going, overpowering the Wolf Pack 39-10 on Saturday. DeShone Kizer threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score, Josh Adams rushed for 106 yards on 10 carries and Notre Dame’s defense rebounded from a disappointing performance a week ago at Texas.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was pleased with the defensive effort.
“We needed some confidence, so that fourth down was definitely a confidence-builder for our defense. I think that gave us some momentum going into the next couple of drives,” he said.
Linebacker James Onwualu said it was a stop the Irish (1-1) desperately needed.
“We never had a drive where the defense had any momentum in the Texas game,” he said.
Defensive lineman Jarron Jones also set up a touchdown with an interception at the 8-yard line.
Kizer was 15 of 18 for 156 yards with one interception and Equanimeous St. Brown led Irish receivers with six catches for 85 yards with Torii Hunter Jr. out with a concussion sustained against Texas.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said Kizer showed more patience looking for receivers.
“The other thing is he’s taking what’s available to him instead of trying to do too much,” Kelly said.
Nevada coach Brian Polian, a former Notre Dame assistant under Charlie Weis, said he had no doubt about going for it on fourth down.
“Because field goals were not going to keep us in this game,” he said.
The Wolf Pack avoided the shutout when Wyatt Demps caught a 44-yard pass from Stewart in the third quarter to set up a 27-yard field goal by Brent Zuzo. Jaxson Kincaide added a 6-yard TD run against Notre Dame’s reserves late in the fourth quarter. Stewart was 10 of 23 passing for 113 yards and James Butler, who rushed for 1,342 yards last season, was held to 50 yards on 17 carries.
“I had a little bit of an off day and you can’t afford to have those,” Stewart said.
The Irish took control with a 25-point second quarter — the most points in the quarter for Notre Dame since scoring 28 points against Pittsburgh in Weis’ debut as coach in 2005.
Both teams struggled with mental errors, highlighted by a safety by Nevada’s Ahki Muhammad being called for a safety when he caught a kickoff and carried it out of the end zone, then stepped back into the end zone and kneeled.
“There were some points in the game where, frankly, we made some knuckleheaded mistakes,” Polian said.
NOTRE DAME: The easy win over Nevada won’t do much to help the Fighting Irish in The Associated Press poll, but it also won’t hurt.
NEVADA: The Wolf Pack, who lost to the Irish 35-0 in 2009, managed to avoid being shut out again, and picked up a $1 million guarantee.
NOTRE DAME: The defensive performance should help allay the panic among Irish fans for at least a week after giving up 50 to Texas, but they won’t truly feel good until Notre Dame shows it can slow a quality opponent.
NEVADA: After barely beating FCS Cal Poly and being dominated by Notre Dame, the Wolf Pack will finally play another mid-major conference opponent next week in Buffalo (0-1), which is off this week, before returning to Indiana to play another Power Five foe in Purdue in two weeks.
NOTRE DAME: Faces Michigan State, marking its first game against a Big Ten school since a 43-40 overtime loss to Northwestern on Nov. 15. 2014. Before last season the last time the Irish didn’t play a school now in the Big Ten was 1914.
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