Kizer, Irish tame Wolf Pack

Published 1:02 am Monday, September 12, 2016

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — DeShone Kizer threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score, Josh Adams rushed for 106 yards and Notre Dame’s defense rebounded from a disappointing performance a week ago to help the 18th-ranked Fighting Irish beat Nevada 39-10 on Saturday.

After being held scoreless in the first quarter by Nevada (1-1), the Irish (1-1) took control with a 25-point second quarter — the most points in the quarter for Notre Dame since scoring 28 points against Pittsburgh in Charlie Weis’ debut as coach in 2005.

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.

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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.

Kizer said it was good to get a win after losing at Texas and consecutive losses to end last season.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve won,” he said. “It was definitely a good feeling to get back out there and see what it feels like to get out and win.”

Kelly said stopping the Wolf Pack on fourth-and-1 at the Notre Dame 17 on its first possession gave the defense a boost.

“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.

Nevada coach Brian Polian, a former Notre Dame assistant under 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.

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. Justin Yoon missed a point-after kick for Notre Dame and the Irish had an interception called back when defensive lineman Khalid Kareem was called for a late hit on Tyler Stewart. It was one of nine penalties for 94 yards by the Irish, including two offensive pass interference calls that nullified long plays. Nevada had 11 penalties for 88 yards.

“There were some points in the game where, frankly, we made some knuckleheaded mistakes,” Polian said.

Stewart, who almost was sacked for a safety in the end zone, also later threw a pass intercepted by defensive lineman Jarron Jones at the 8 that he returned 4 yards to set up a touchdown catch by Kevin Stepherson. C.J. Sanders also had a TD catch set up by his own 24-yard punt return. Tarean Folston and Dexter Williams added rushing touchdowns.

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.

Malik Zaire, who lost the quarterback competition with Kizer, entered the game late in the third quarter and completed 4 of 9 passes for 49 yards.


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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