No. 15 Georgia outlasts No. 24 Notre Dame
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Georgia wide receiver Terry Godwin and several teammates greeted a raucous and well-traveled cheering section after Saturday’s game at Notre Dame.
Before he could make that pit stop, however, Godwin confidently watched the Bulldogs’ defense halt the Irish once more.
Davin Bellamy forced a fumble on a sack of Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush and Lorenzo Cater recovered with 1:27 remaining, helping the No. 15 Bulldogs preserve a 20-19 win against the No. 24 Fighting Irish.
“I knew for a fact we were going to stop them, because we go against this defense every day, and I know for a fact we’ve got the No. 1 defense in the nation,” Godwin said. “And for them to go out there and make that stop — that goes to show to the world. They see it for themselves.”
Making his first collegiate start after relieving injured Jacob Eason (knee) last week, Georgia freshman quarterback Jake Fromm passed for 141 yards and a touchdown on Godwin’s sprawling, one-handed catch in the second quarter. He threw an interception and lost a fumble, but teammates lauded his perseverance in helping the Bulldogs improve to 2-0.
“I think he did great,” Georgia wide receiver Mecole Hardman said. “First time starting in a tough atmosphere like this. You couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Sony Michel rushed 13 times for 73 yards and a touchdown to boost the Georgia ground game. Nick Chubb followed with 63 yards on 13 carries.
Rodrigo Blankenship kicked two field goals, including the go-ahead 30-yarder with 3:34 remaining as Notre Dame fell to 1-1.
“Certainly disappointed for my guys,” Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly said. “They battled, played hard. I’m proud of their effort. They continue to do what I ask them to do. Georgia, they needed the plays, they came up with them.”
Notre Dame went three-and-out after Blankenship’s go-ahead kick and fumbled with 1:27 remaining in the game after getting the ball back with just under two minutes left.
Wimbush rushed for a touchdown while passing for 210 yards. Justin Yoon had field goals of 39, 42, 37 and 28 yards, rebounding after some shakiness in the Fighting Irish’s season-opening win against Temple.
Josh Adams was Notre Dame’s leading rusher with 53 yards on 19 carries. The Bulldogs outgained the Fighting Irish, 326-265. Wimbush marveled at the shiftiness of the Georgia front seven and the unit as a whole.
“I’ve never played against a team with speed like that (on defense),” Wimbush said. “At all 11 positions, guys were physical and had speed.”
Several thousand Georgia fans helped contribute to the 257th successive sellout at Notre Dame Stadium, a streak dating to 1973. The recently-renovated venue has a capacity of 77,622.
Healthy pockets of red and black clad Bulldogs backers augmented the traditionally lively gameday atmosphere in South Bend. Outside the stadium before the game, fans traded shouts of “GO IRISH” and “GO DAWGS” as they passed one another on sidewalks or in parking lots.
It had been a long time coming for these programs to share a field. Saturday marked just the second meeting between Georgia and Notre Dame. The first came in the Sugar Bowl following the 1980 season, a 17-10 Bulldogs victory contested on New Year’s Day 1981, when Kelly was an Assumption College linebacker and Georgia counterpart Kirby Smart was a week removed from turning five years old.
“A tough atmosphere tonight,” Hardman said. “But our fans showed up and helped us through.”
Notre Dame led, 13-10, at halftime. Georgia took its first lead of the game with 4:34 remaining in the third quarter on Michel’s 6-yard scoring run.
NOTES: Notre Dame hosted a Southeastern Conference team for the first time since Tennessee visited South Bend on Nov. 5, 2005. The Fighting Irish won 41-21. ... Georgia QB Jake Fromm was stepping in for sophomore Jacob Eason, who suffered a sprained left knee in the season-opener. ... Ian Book replaced Brandon Wimbush at quarterback for Notre Dame for one play in the second quarter. Wimbush appeared to be adjusting a contact lens in the huddle before exiting. He returned on Notre Dame’s next possession. ... Notre Dame honored former WR Tim Brown, winner of the 1987 Heisman Trophy, during a timeout early in the second quarter.