Notre Dame obliterates UMass after shaky start

Al Lesar
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND – Anxious moments lasted through halftime.

Three touchdowns in a span of about six minutes (late in the second quarter and early in the third) did the trick to put the Notre Dame football team on solid footing and allow the sixth-ranked Irish (4-0) to cruise to a 62-27 victory over UMass (0-3) Saturday.

Notre Dame’s redshirt freshman quarterback DeShone Kizer made his second career start, completing 15 of 22 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns. C.J. Prosise surpassed 100 rushing yards for the third straight time — finishing with 149 yards and touchdowns of 57 and 16 yards — to lead a prolific Irish offense that generated over 600 yards total and more than 400 on the ground.

UMass quarterback Blake Frohnhapfel caused Notre Dame problems in the first half. By intermission, he had completed 11 of 22 passes for 155 yards. The Irish had given up three touchdowns on the ground.

That first half gave plenty of reason for concern heading into next week’s battle at Clemson.

True freshman running back Josh Adams went over 100 yards for the game with a 70-yard TD dash with about 9 minutes left in the game. 

Freshman tight end Alizé Jones made his first major impact at Notre Dame. Early in the third quarter, he caught a 37-yard pass from Kizer that set up a 16-yard scoring run by Prosise to make it 42-20.

Another freshman, Dexter Williams, got into the act when he scored his first career touchdown on a 14-yard run to make it 48-20. It happened after Jarrett Grace and Greer Martini snuffed out a fake punt run well short of the first-down marker on the UMass 30.

Notre Dame’s true freshman quarterback Brandon Wimbush nearly had a memorable second play of his career. He threw a 50-yard bomb to Will Fuller, who appeared to catch it at the UMass 5. However, after a review, it was ruled incomplete.

Wimbush had to wait until the next series to find his “moment.” On a zone-read, he navigated through the middle of the line, zig-zagged through traffic, traveling 58 yards for a touchdown and a 55-20 lead.

True freshman receiver Equanimeous St. Brown had a glimpse in the spotlight — an apparent 44-yard TD reception from Wimbush — that was negated by a penalty.

The Irish managed to stay afloat, 35-20, in a wild first half. Prosise had 125 of on Notre Dame’s 206 rushing yardage, including a 57-yard touchdown burst.

Big plays were the order of the day for both teams. 

Besides Prosise, C.J. Sanders ran back a punt return 50 yards for a score. Chris Brown had a 27-yard pass reception from Kizer and Will Fuller had a 26-yarder for a TD. 

Marquis Young sparked the Minutemen with an 83-yard scoring run. Frohnapfel hit Shakur Nesmith with a 56-yard pass on a flea-flicker.

UMass, which came into the game with 192 total rushing yards in two games, had 121 by halftime against the Irish defense.

Notre Dame’s C.J. Prosise (20), right, gets lifted up by teammates as they celebrate a touchdown during the Notre Dame-Massachusetts NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN