Home Football ACC Notre Dame escapes upset, beats Virginia, 34-27

Notre Dame escapes upset, beats Virginia, 34-27

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The number 11 Notre Dame Fighting Irish entered into Saturday’s road matchup with the Virginia Cavaliers looking to continue their dominance from Week 1. Unfortunately, the team struggled with the Cavaliers for most of the day and even experienced a huge in an injury to starting quarterback Malik Zaire.

DeShone Kizer had to come in for Zaire late in the game and he did a good job. He even led the team on a last minute drive to take the lead with just twelve seconds left. However, he was actually involved a lot earlier in the game.

The Irish moved their way down the field on their opening drive, but it unfortunately stalled, forcing the team to try for a field goal. Kizer found Durham Smythe on a shuttle play from seven yards out. The Irish missed on the two-point conversion, which nearly cost them the game later on.

Over the next nine minutes, Justin Yoon connected on two field goals to put his team up 12-0 at the end of the first quarter. It didn’t take the Cavaliers long into the second quarter to get on the board.

Quarterback Matt Johns hit Evan Butts from two yards out to cut the lead to five. Late in the second quarter, the Cavs got tricky as Johns hit Keeon Johnson on a 42-yard reverse around touchdown pass.

The Cavaliers led the Irish 14-12 at the half. The Irish didn’t like that too much as midway through the third quarter, Zaire hit Will Fuller from 59 yards out for a touchdown.

It wasn’t too much longer that the Irish extended their lead to 12 after C.J. Prosise broke out a 24-yard run to increase their lead to 26-14, which was the score at the end of the third quarter.

Johns and the Cavs weren’t going to say die, however. He found a little running room from four yards out to make the score 26-21 just barely into the fourth quarter. The Irish then suffered their biggest loss of the game as a Virginia player rolled up on Zaire’s leg to create a pretty gruesome highlight.

Zaire was carted off the field and would not return. Head coach Brian Kelly said following the game that the diagnosis seems to be a fractured ankle and he would probably miss the entire season.

That is when Kizer came into the game to try and lead his team to victory. This was not before Virginia running back Albert Reid gave his team the lead as he dove into the endzone from a yard out.

With his team down by one, Kizer looked to make a move down the field to set up the game winning field goal. The team faced a third down from the Virginia 39 when Kizer hit Fuller with a bomb to take the lead 34-27.

The Irish ended up surviving the game and getting out of Charlottesville with the victory. Kizer was 8-12 with 95 yards and two touchdowns in Zaire’s absence.

For Virginia, Johns showed why he won the starting job from Greyson Lambert as he went for 289 yards and two touchdowns as well as a rushing touchdown.

Let’s hope Kizer is able to perform like this all season long in Zaire’s absence. The Irish next play against Georgia Tech next week while the Cavs face off against William & Mary.

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*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports

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