Notre Dame WR Chris Brown delivers clutch catch

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

BOSTON — Another interception appeared to be headed John Johnson’s way.

The Boston College defensive back was in perfect position between the DeShone Kizer pass and Notre Dame wide receiver Chris Brown. With one end-zone interception already to his name, Johnson had every right to believe he would make another big play for the Eagles.

Once again, Kizer threw a pass right at Johnson.

In the first quarter, Johnson stepped in front of Irish tight end Alize Jones for an easy interception in the end zone. This time he maneuvered himself in front of Brown.

Johnson leaped in the air intending to add another blemish to a horrible start for Notre Dame’s quarterback. With his arms fully extended over his head, the ball closed in on his hands.

But at the last moment, Brown jumped higher, reached his arms out farther and pulled the football over Johnson’s head for the touchdown. When Johnson hit the ground, he looked back at Brown as in disbelief. Notre Dame’s senior wideout had robbed him of an interception.

The catch was one of the few offensive highlights in Notre Dame’s sloppy 19-16 win over Boston College in Fenway Park Saturday night. Brown’s touchdown gave the Irish a 16-3 lead one drive after Kizer threw an interception to safety Justin Simmons.

A turnover-laden night didn’t prevent Brown turning the game into a showcase of his abilities in one of the last games of his Notre Dame career. Brown caught six passes for a career-high 104 yards for the Irish. He was a deep threat while Will Fuller was blanketed.

His 38-yard catch on the sideline looked so much like a typical Fuller play, that a double take was needed to read the sometimes indistinguishable numbers on Notre Dame’s green Shamrock Series jerseys.

He was a possession receiver while Notre Dame’s rushing attack struggled to find its footing with C.J. Prosise sidelined in the second quarter. He was the big-play target when the Irish needed it most.

On a night when Fuller struggled with drops and didn’t reach the end zone for only the third time this season, Notre Dame’s other starting receivers picked up the slack.

Brown and slot receiver Amir Carlisle combined for 12 catches and 201 yards and two touchdowns. The Irish caught 20 for 320 as a team.

"They both played very well,” said head coach Brian Kelly. “They were singled out in my locker room postgame talk with the team. Our two seniors really stepped up big for us. Chris Brown and Amir Carlisle had big games for us.

“They played a lot of cover two tonight. That's something that they do. They played double zone outside on Will. It frees up your inside players. Chris got a couple of one-on-one opportunities on the outside and DeShone was able to find him."

Carlisle accounted for the only touchdown in the first half. He caught a short screen pass to Kizer’s right, made one defender miss and dragged another into the end zone for a 10-yard score. He finished with seven catches for a career-high 97 yards.

“Each and every week those guys are factors,” Kelly said. “We're going to look to Will if we can. If he's in a situation where we can't get him the ball, those two guys are really good players as well.”

While Notre Dame’s top receiver was kept in check, No. 2 and No. 3 came through for the Irish.

"(Brown and Carlisle) are guys who have been there and done it," Kizer said. "Those are guys I knew were going to pick me up in a situation where I wasn't playing pretty good ball."

Notre Dame’s Chris Brown (2) is brought down by Boston College’s Gabriel McClary (14) and William Harris (41) during the first half of the Notre Dame-Boston College NCAA football game on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, inside Fenway Park in Boston, Mass. SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN