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Notre Dame defeats Louisville 35-17

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Louisville puts up a spirited effort against the ninth-ranked Fighting Irish.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Louisville Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Game one in head coach Scott Satterfield’s process to rebuild Louisville ended with a 35-17 loss to #9 Notre Dame, but every Louisville fan should be encouraged by the steps that the team took on Monday night.

Notre Dame started the game off with a six-play, 75-yard drive that had Ian Book scramble for 37 yards on the opening play. Jahmir Smith capped it off with a three-yard touchdown run to put the Irish up 7-0.

But instead of folding early like they did last season, Louisville punched back against Notre Dame. The Cards responded with a 12-play, 88-yard drive that ended in Jawon Pass tying the game on an eight-yard touchdown run. Louisville’s defense then got a three-and-out, and then their offense scored again as Pass rushed in a 17-yard touchdown up the middle, giving Louisville a 14-7 lead in the first quarter.

But showing their experience in hostile road environments, Notre Dame countered with a touchdown drive to tie it in the first quarter. The Irish tallied 75 yards on nine plays, ending with Tony Jones, Jr. running for an 11-yard score.

Even with the tying touchdown run by Notre Dame, Louisville’s defense kept playing with a lot of effort in the second quarter. The Cards forced a turnover on downs on Notre Dame’s next possession, and managed to keep their offense at bay for most of the quarter. But the Fighting Irish finally got in the endzone with 17 seconds left in the first half, as quarterback Ian Book dived in for an 11-yard touchdown run.

That touchdown was the end result of three straight lost fumbles on the previous three drives. Jawon Pass lost a fumble at Louisville’s own 26-yard line, but Notre Dame immediately coughed it up after Ian Book was sacked and fumbled it away. However, Pass would lose it again on a botched snap, giving the ball back to Notre Dame for their touchdown drive.

Trailing 21-14 at halftime, Louisville started the second half with a seven-play, 51-yard drive. However, Jawon Pass had his third fumble of the game while scrambling inside the Notre Dame 25, which the Irish would fall on. Notre Dame eventually punted on their subsequent drive, but Louisville’s offense would not be able to find the endzone in the second half.

Notre Dame, however, scored two touchdowns in the second half to put the game away. The first score came on a two-play drive, where Ian Book hit Chase Claypool on a drag route that turned into a 31-yard gain. Book would then hit Tommy Tremble on a 26-yard strike down the middle, putting the Fighting Irish ahead 28-14.

The second touchdown came after Louisville’s Blanton Creque hit a 42-yard field goal to cut it to 28-17. Jahmir Smith ran for his second touchdown from one-yard out, wrapping up a 12-play, 75-yard drive.

Both Louisville and Notre Dame had a lot of success running the ball, with both teams combining for 479 yards (Louisville 249, Notre Dame 230) and averaging over five yards per carry (Louisville 5.3, Notre Dame 5.5). Javian Hawkins rushed for 122 yards on 19 carries, becoming the first Louisville freshman running back to hit the century mark against an FBS opponent since 2009. Both Hassan Hall (11 carries, 69 yards) and Jawon Pass (16 carries, 67 yards, two touchdowns) had over 65 yards each, as well.

Tony Jones, Jr. led Notre Dame with 110 yards rushing and one touchdown on 15 carries, averaging 7.3 yards per carry.

But the difference in this game lied in the efficiency of the quarterbacks. Ian Book completed 14-of-23 passes for 193 yards and one touchdown, with 14 carries for 81 yards and another touchdown on the ground. Jawon Pass was 12-for-27 for 134 yards, and rushed for 67 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Book only had one lost fumble, whereas Pass had three (one of which led to Notre Dame taking the lead with 17 seconds left in the first half).

Chase Claypool led Notre Dame with five receptions for 94 yards. Tommy Tremble caught the lone passing touchdown for the Fighting Irish, finishing with three receptions for 49 yards. Only Tutu Atwell (five receptions, 47 yards) and Marshon Ford (two receptions, 43 yards) had more than one catch for Louisville.

Louisville’s defense had three sacks and forced one turnover, and also held Notre Dame to 5-of-12 on third down conversions. Compared to the team that we saw last year, the level of effort and sense of urgency was exponentially better.

Louisville will hope to carry that energy with them on Saturday against Eastern Kentucky, as they look to get their first win of the 2019 season. Even in defeat, the Scott Satterfield era at Louisville is off to a promising start.