Notre Dame Blows 17 Point Lead and Bowl Chances

By TimothyShannon
Nov. 20, 2016

Notre Dame's chances of making a bowl went up in smoke after losing to Virginia Tech 34-31. With the loss, Notre Dame will finish with a losing record for the season. By rule, in order to be bowl eligible, a team must finish the regular season with at least a .500 record. Unfortunately for the Fighting Irish, the loss assures them to be at best 5-7.

Notre Dame blew a 17 point lead in this one to the Virginia Tech Hokies. Notre Dame lead 24-7 with 6:00 to go in the first half. Virginia Tech fought their way back despite allowing a Notre Dame touchdown late in the 3rd quarter. With the win, Virginia Tech can clinch the ACC Coastal division with a win or a North Carolina loss, and a chance to play for the ACC Conference Championship.

Virginia Tech celebrates their come from behind win at South Bend, IN.
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

This looked promising for the Irish at first as they scored a touchdown on a 78 yard opening drive. Running back Josh Adams ran it in for the score top put the Irish up 7-0. Quarterback DeShone Kizer found C. J. Anderson for 22 yards at the 1 yard line to set up the touchdown. Kizer also found Adams and Equanimeous St. Brown for 22 and 29 yard pass plays. 

On the first Virginia Tech drive, Hokies quarterback Jerod Evans fumbled the football after Notre Dame linebacker James Onwalu sacked him and defensive end Jamir Jones recovered the ball at the 50 yard line. Notre Dame drove down to the Virginia Tech 1 on an 11-yard completion from Kizer to wide receiver Kevin Stepherson. However, a fumble by Kizer at the 1 on a 3rd and goal was recovered by Notre Dame but stalled the drive. Justin Yoon connected on a 25-yard field goal which put the Irish up 10-0.

After a Virginia Tech three and out, Notre Dame started at their own 21 yard line. Running back Tarean Floston started the drive with a 21 yard run. Kizer then found wide receiver Chase Claypool for 20 yards before the end of the first quarter. Kizer then found wide receiver Chris Finke for a 31 yard touchdown to give Notre Dame a 17-0 lead. 

Virginia Tech answered with a 36 yard kickoff return by Henri Murphy to their own 39. Evans would eventually lead the drive for the Hokies. Evans scored on a 23 yard run to cut the Irish lead to 17-7.

After both teams traded punts, Notre Dame started off with good field position at their own 40. Adams ran for 16 yards to the Virginia Tech 44. Kizer then connected to St. Brown for 12 yards. Kizer then found wide receiver Corey Holmes for 18 to the Hokies 18 yard line. Kizer then found Freshman wide receiver Miles Boykin in the end zone to give the Irish a 24-7 lead. 

However before the half, Virginia Tech answered. A roughing the passer penalty by Notre Dame brought the Hokies down to the Irish 27 yard line. Evans would eventually find wide receiver Cam Phillips for a 16-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 24-14 at halftime. 

Virginia Tech started the second half with the ball. Evans found wide receiver C. J. Carroll for 62 yards which set up a first and goal at the Notre Dame 6. Fullback Steven Peoples ran it in for the 2 yard touchdown to narrow the Irish lead down to 24-21. 

However late in the 3rd quarter, Evans was intercepted by safety Drue Tranquill at the Notre Dame 22. Adams would then run for a 67 yard score to put the Irish back up 31-21. The touchdown came with 3:49 to play in the 3rd quarter. 

Murphy would get another good 28 yard return to the Virginia Tech 30. Evans found wide receiver Isaiah Ford for 12 yards. He then connected with Phillips for 17 to get to the Notre Dame 35. Evans then ran for 4 yard on a 4th and 1 at the Irish 26 that ended the 3rd quarter. Virginia Tech would drive down to the Notre Dame 3 before settling for a Joey Slye 23-yard field goal that cut the lead to 31-24. 

After a 3 and out by Notre Dame, a bad punt by Tyler Newsome allowed Virginia Tech to start at the Irish 49. A pass interference penalty against the Irish put Virginia Tech down to the Notre Dame 7. Evans then found tight end Bucky Hodges for the touchdown to tie the game at 31 with 9:13 to play.

After another 3 and out, Newsome shanked another punt at the Virginia Tech 47. Evans would hook up with Ford for 20 yards. Virginia Tech would drive down to the Notre Dame 2. Slye would then connect on a 20-yard field goal to give the Hokies their first lead at 34-31 with 4:16 to play.

Notre Dame had one last chance. New quarterback Malik Zaire found St. Brown at the Virginia Tech 33 in what appeared to be a chance for the Irish. However, an illegal touching penalty against Notre Dame caused the 10 second run off which ended the game.

Next up, Notre Dame will end their dismal season in California next week as they take on their arch rivals' the USC Trojans. USC is trying to win the Pac-12 South title with a win and a Colorado loss. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech will face arch rival Virginia. The Hokies will be looking to clinch the ACC Coastal title with a win over the Cavaliers.