ATHENS, Ga. — The No. 7 University of Notre Dame football team needed to overcome a 13-point deficit to defeat No. 3 Georgia on Saturday, but the late comeback bid fell short as the Irish fell 23-17 in front of a record crowd at Sanford Stadium.
The Irish led 10-7 at halftime, but allowed 16 straight Georgia points in the second half before a late touchdown made it a one-possession game. After forcing a three-and-out, Notre Dame took over at midfield with two minutes remaining, but the Bulldogs’ defense held to escape with the victory.
Quarterback Ian Book finished 29-of-37 with 275 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, while Cole Kmet matched a program record for catches by a tight end in a single game with nine receptions for 108 yards. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah led the defense with eight tackles, including 2.5 for loss, while Alohi Gilman and Jalen Elliott also added eight tackles.
How It Happened
The Irish played the Bulldogs to a first-quarter draw, limiting Georgia’s potent offense to just 34 total yards. The Bulldogs had averaged 150 yards during the first quarter of their first three games this season.
With tight end Cole Kmet in the starting lineup for the first time this season, the Irish added another dimension to the passing game as Ian Book’s first three passes went to the junior for 33 total yards.
After trading punts throughout the first quarter, Notre Dame’s special teams unit came up big on its first punt of the second when Tyler Simmons fumbled the punt and Chase Claypool recovered at the Bulldog eight-yard line. On fourth and goal from inside the one, Book found Kmet to give the Irish a 7-0 lead with 10:39 remaining in the half.
The Bulldogs responded on the next drive, running 8:12 from the clock on a 13-play, 75-yard drive and tying the game on a D’Andre Swift rush from the three-yard line.
With 2:27 before halftime, the Irish assembled one of their most efficient drives of the season as Book completed five straight passes to put Jonathan Doerer in position for a 27-yard field goal, giving Notre Dame the 10-7 lead at the half.
The Irish forced a Georgia punt to start the second half, but Book threw his first interception of the season on the next drive. Though the Bulldogs took over at the Irish 22, Notre Dame’s defense held to limit Georgia to a 40-yard field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship.
After a Notre Dame three-and-out, the Bulldogs took a 13-10 lead on their next possession with a 31-yard field goal from Blankenship at the 4:21 mark of the third quarter.
Georgia went ahead 20-10 with 13:19 left in the fourth quarter on a 15-yard pass from Jake Fromm to Lawrence Cager and added another field goal with 6:54 left in the game.
The Irish pulled within 23-17 on a 10-play, 75-yard drive capped by a four-yard touchdown reception by Claypool, who had snagged a 23-yard catch on the previous play to set up first and goal.
- The Irish held the Bulldogs to 34 total yards of offense (18 rushing, 16 passing) in the first quarter. Georgia gained at least 150 yards in the first quarter during each of their first three games this season.
- WR Chase Claypool recovered a muffed punt (Georgia WR Tyler Simmons) at the Georgia eight-yard line to set up the first Notre Dame touchdown (QB Ian Book one-yard pass to TE Cole Kmet).
- Saturday marked the first time Georgia has trailed at the half in a home matchup since Nov. 26, 2016, vs. Auburn.
- After sitting out the first two games of the season due to injury (collarbone), TE Cole Kmet made his first catch of the season on the game’s first play from scrimmage (eight-yard reception). Kmet recorded all three Irish receptions on the opening drive (for 8, 10 and 15 yards, respectively).
- Kmet grabbed his first career touchdown on the game’s opening score (second quarter, 10:39)
- Kmet’s team-leading nine grabs tie for the best reception haul from an Irish tight end in a single game (Ken MacAfee vs. Purdue, 1977). Kmet finished the night with 108 receiving yards and a touchdown (seven receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown in the first half).
- LB Jack Lamb recorded his first-career tackle for loss when he brought down D’Andre Swift for a four-yard loss in the opening minutes of the game. Lamb would finish with 3 total tackles.
- WR Chase Claypool notched his first career fumble recovery on a muffed Georgia punt at the Bulldogs’ eight-yard line, setting up the first TD drive of the game. Claypool added 6 catches for 66 yards and a touchdown.