Football: Notre Dame Surprises Bishop Donahue

FAIRMONT – After staking Class A No. 16 Bishop Donahue to a 16-10 lead, No. 6 Notre Dame scored 27 unanswered points in the final 16:16 of the contest Friday to roll to a convincing, 37-16 Homecoming victory at Duvall-Rosier Field to remain among the ranks of the unbeaten.

The Irish rode a bend, but don’t break defensive effort that saw them give up 312 yards of offensive output to the Bishops, but just two scores.

It was, by far, a different game from last year’s meeting between the two schools.

“I think this is huge,” ND coach Sam Alvaro said. “All week long, we talked about this. They ruined our season last year. That opening kickoff of that game last year, they took it back, and we went in the tank. We talked about it all week long.

“I told them, ‘whatever happens at the beginning, you don’t give up. You don’t get down on yourself. You keep fighting, fighting, fighting,’ and I said, ‘we’ve got too many weapons with running backs, receivers for teams to cover us. Just keep working and we’ll get things done,’ and they did.”

Notre Dame (4-0) though, got off to a slow start.

Quarterback T.J. McKinsey was intercepted on the third play from scrimmage, but the Irish defense held and forced the Bishops to punt.

Bishop Donahue (3-2) penned the Irish on the 1-yard line with the punt though, and on the second play from scrimmage, Santino Cava slipped in the end zone during the exchange and went to a knee to give the Bishops a safety at the 9:29 mark of the first quarter.

After the free kick, the Bishops marched 51 yards in 11 plays to tack on a touchdown. Matthew Vucelik bulled his way to the score on a 5-yard run for the TD and the 2-point conversion put the Irish in a 10-0 hole.

The Irish responded though, driving to the 1-yard line before settling for a 23-yard field goal from Adam McMunn on the first play of the second quarter.

Notre Dame stopped the Bishops’ next two drives on fourth downs, before getting the offense going again.

McKinsey engineered a seven-play, 67-yard drive that was highlighted by his 49-yard pass to Jarrod West to the 4-yard line.

“We watched it earlier,” Alvaro said. “(West) kept telling me, ‘He can’t guard me.’ He’s a freshman, but to jam a kid at the line like him – none of our kids can, so I didn’t think they could. At times, we picked and chose it, and T.J. was able to hit him in stride.

“It was huge for us. The kids played well.”

With time ticking down in the half, McKinsey hit Spencer Harlow for a 2-yard score with 44 seconds remaining and McMunn PAT kick tied it at 10-10.

Bishop Donahue retook the lead midway through the third quarter.

Jesse Padlow connected with Josh Miller for a 20-yard score, but the 2-point conversion failed.

Notre Dame answered right back, marching down the field in a little more than two minutes to score again.

Cava was the catalyst, busting a 23-yard run and catching a 16-yard pass on the drive before punching the ball into the end zone from three yards out.

McMunn’s PAT gave the Irish the lead for good.

From there on out, it was all Notre Dame as the Irish held Bishop Donahue to 14 yards of rushing yardage in the second half and forced it to go to the air.

“I think they got tired, and we didnt,” Alvaro said. “We just kept fighting. We played three quarters of football. The first quarter, we did not play. Mistakes, kids not lining up right, and not getting to the right spots. Their first touchdown, we gave them three third-and-longs. We had the kid tackled for losses. After that, this team stepped up, and we played some football.”