Notre Dame fans

Fans react to Notre Dame's 23-17 loss to Georgia inside Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga.

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Notre Dame fans tried to stay hopeful heading into the game as two-touchdown underdogs. The pessimists seemed to outweigh the optimists.

Notre Dame and Georgia appeared to be feeling each other out in a scoreless first quarter. The Irish offense had some success moving the ball but hurt itself with mistakes. Notre Dame's defense tackled well and didn't flinch at the first punches from the Bulldogs.

The Irish scored first on a one-yard touchdown catch by tight end Cole Kmet, who appeared to snag an Ian Book pass intended for running back Tony Jones Jr. Notre Dame's offense didn't make it look easy following Chase Claypool's fumble recovery, but the unit finally converted in five plays from eight yards out.

The crowd noise clearly affected Notre Dame's offense. The Irish were flagged with four false starts in the first half.

Georgia countered Notre Dame's touchdown with a touchdown of its own on the ensuing possession. A 13-play, 75-yard drive was capped by a three-yard touchdown run by D'Andrew Swift.

But the Bulldogs left enough time for the Irish to drive into Georgia territory and convert on a 27-yard field goal by Jonathan Doerer as time expired in the first half for a 10-7 lead.

The good vibes for Notre Dame were slowly squeezed away in the third quarter. Georgia tied the game at 10 with a 40-yard field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship and later took a 13-10 lead with a 31-yard field goal by Blankenship.

Notre Dame's three offensive possessions ended with a Book interception and back-to-back  punts.

Georgia looked ready to slam the door shut on Notre Dame early in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs extended their lead to 10 points with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Jake Fromm to Lawrence Cager. Then five plays later, safety J.R. Reed intercepted Book.

Georgia settled for another Blankenship field goal following the interception to give the Irish a glimmer of hope trailing 23-10 with 6:54 left in the game.

Book took over to get Notre Dame within one score. He either threw a pass or ran on all 10 plays of a 75-yard touchdown drive that ended with a four-yard pass to Claypool.

The Irish defense forced Georgia to punt and gave Notre Dame's offense two minutes to win the game. But Book didn't have any magic left, and his desperation heave to Claypool on fourth-and-8 was knocked down. 

The Irish hung tough, but it wasn't enough to beat the Bulldogs in a 23-17 loss.

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tjames@ndinsider.com

574-235-6214

Twitter: @TJamesNDI

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