No. 21 Notre Dame handles UNC with backup QB
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Notre Dame didn’t need all its weapons in full force and that might have made Saturday’s outcome even more rewarding for the 21st-ranked Fighting Irish.
Even without its starting quarterback, Notre Dame showcased other offensive components and a stingy defense to subdue North Carolina 33-10 at rainy Kenan Stadium.
“We needed some resolve and some mental toughness and we showed that,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said.
Deon McIntosh ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns while Josh Adams added 118 yards and one long touchdown run for the Irish.
Notre Dame (5-1) used backup quarterback Ian Book, a sophomore, in place of injured starter Brandon Wimbush, and it still had enough firepower to overwhelm the Tar Heels (1-5).
“He’s a very confident kid,” Kelly said of Book. “There were no jitters with him. ... For a first start, I was really pleased with what he did. To win on the road is hard to do. The ideal situation is to start at home in a more comfortable environment, but I thought he did a lot of really good things.”
Book, who had thrown a total of eight college passes prior to the game, completed 17 of 31 passes for 146 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Wimbush missed the game with a strained right foot that apparently was suffered a week earlier during a romp past Miami of Ohio.
Adams and Book had help because McIntosh ran for 35- and 24-yard touchdowns in the second half. McIntosh did his damage on 12 carries. Adams, whose 73-yard touchdown run in the second quarter was the longest play of the game, had only two of his 13 carries in the second half.
North Carolina quarterback Chazz Surratt was 19 of 42 for 179 yards. He threw for one touchdown and was picked off once.
“We were able to be really disruptive,” Kelly said. “We were pressuring the quarterback most of the day.”
Irish defensive lineman Julian Okwara batted a Surratt pass and made the interception, returning the ball to the North Carolina 14 on the first snap of the second half. That resulted in Justin Yoon’s 29-yard field goal as Notre Dame boosted its lead to 19-7.
Earlier, the Tar Heels didn’t pick up a first down until less than 8 1/2 minutes remained in the second quarter. North Carolina reached the Notre Dame 19 on the drive, but a fumble curtailed that scoring chance.
“Just little stuff that adds up,” Surratt said. “We can’t have that as an offense. ... It hurts. Our defense was playing well there.”
North Carolina only had to go 47 yards for its first points after Book was intercepted by safety Myles Dorn. Surratt threw 25 yards to Anthony Ratliff-Williams for the touchdown on third down with 1:50 remaining in the first half.
The Irish then punted, but came up with a safety when defensive lineman Jay Hayes tackled running back Jordon Brown in the end zone with 28 seconds left in the half.
“We weren’t prepared for a line stunt,” Tar Heels center Cam Dillard said of the breakdown that allowed the Irish into the backfield.
Notre Dame scored on the first play of the second quarter, with Book throwing 6 yards to tight end Cam Smith to complete an 80-yard drive after the Irish punted twice and were stopped on a fourth-and-1 in the first quarter.
“Be patient,” Kelly said of the approach, “because we are going to wear you down.”
NOTES: Notre Dame RB Josh Adams has nine touchdown runs of at least 35 yards in his career. ... Notre Dame holds an 18-2 lead in the series, with the only losses coming in Chapel Hill in 1960 and 2008. ... Notre Dame has converted for 73 points off its opponents’ 14 turnovers this season. ... The Tar Heels dropped to 0-4 in home games this year. ... North Carolina was in danger of being shut out in the first half for the second week in a row; it failed to score in the opening 30 minutes at Georgia Tech. ... North Carolina is home again next week against Virginia. ... Notre Dame has next week off before an Oct. 21 home game with Southern California.