Notre Dame football survives shootout with North Carolina
SOUTH BEND — Despite three turnovers (two fumbles and an interception that all led to scores), Everett Golson directed a Notre Dame offense that generated more than 500 yards in a wild 50-43 victory over North Carolina on Saturday.
The win, which lacked style but had oodles of substance, allowed the No. 6 Irish (6-0) to stay in the hunt for a playoff berth with a showdown with top-ranked Florida State (6-0) looming next Saturday.
The win over the Tar Heels (2-4) was hardly a college football classic. Defensively, the Irish struggled.
It wasn’t until a six-yard scoring run by Tarean Folston with 2:19 left in the game that Notre Dame finally could exhale.
The Irish offense had 15 plays that went for double-digit yards in the game.
Trailing as the fourth quarter began, Notre Dame regained the lead when Golson hit Folston for a nine-yard TD pass. Folston made a nifty move at the 5 to find the end zone. A two-point conversion pass from Golson to tight end Ben Koyack made it a 43-36 Irish advantage.
The 15-play, 81-yard drive was kept alive when Carolina was flagged for a roughing the snapper penalty after the Tar Heels had forced a punt.
Golson’s second fumble of the game cost the Irish dearly. After a North Carolina field goal, Notre Dame had the ball deep in its own territory. Golson found daylight and ran. When he was hit, he fumbled on the Irish 23. On the Tar Heels’ first snap, on a trick play, receiver Quinshad Davis hit quarterback Marquise Williams for a 23-yard scoring pass and a 36-35 lead that they took into the fourth quarter.
After a rare defensive stop to start the third quarter, the Irish maneuvered down the field and ultimately went up 35-26 when Will Fuller caught a short pass, cut against the grain, and went 35 yards for the touchdown.
Notre Dame spotted North Carolina a 14-0 lead before some fans had a chance to sit down.
Golson fumbled on the third play of the game, giving the Tar Heels the ball on the Irish 37. Three Elijiah Hood runs later, UNC led 7-0.
On Notre Dame’s third offensive series, Golson threw a pass that was intercepted and returned 29 yards for a TD by North Carolina linebacker Jeff Schoettmer.
The “uh-oh” factor didn’t take long to kick in.
The Irish regrouped and finally went ahead but never took control. Golson threw for 177 yards and the Irish ran for 105 in the first half, but led just 28-26.
Fuller caught a 13-yard TD pass from Golson, and Cam McDaniel (1 yard), Greg Bryant (7) and Tarean Folston (6) all had scoring runs.