Notre Dame rallies for second week to remain undefeated

Published 9:41 am Sunday, September 12, 2021

NOTRE DAME — For the second straight game, No. 8-ranked Notre Dame needed a late score to escape with a victory over an unranked team.

In its season opener, the Fighting Irish used a field goal to edge Florida State 41-38. Saturday afternoon, Jack Coan connected with Michael Mayer for an 18-yard touchdown pass with 1:09 remaining to defeat Toledo 32-29.

“Hats off to Toledo,” said Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly. “They were well prepared, well-coached, and their players played really well. They are going to have a fine season.”

After giving credit to the Rockets, Kelly turned to his team and what the Fighting Irish needs to do get better.

“From our perspective, [I am] happy about the win,” he said. “I can’t even begin with the work that we have to do. Obviously, it starts with just the basic premise of football. Three turnovers, one of them was a touchdown. You don’t usually survive those games and win when you do that. That is No. 1.”

Secondly, Kelly was not pleased with the big plays that the defense gave up for the second week in a row.

“I think the biggest thing for me is we lacked intensity coming out,” he said. “I did not like the way we came out. I thought we lacked intensity, and that’s on me and my preparation in terms of how I prepare the football team.”

The Notre Dame offense performed better than it did a week ago, especially in the running game.

Notre Dame finished with 132 yards rushing, led by Kyren Williams, who rushed for 78 yards on 16 carries and scored a touchdown.

Coan continued to play well at quarterback as he was 21-of-33 for 239 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Michael Mayer was again his main target as he caught seven passes for 81 yards and both touchdowns.

Toledo also played well offensively as Bryant Koback rushed for 122 yards on 21 carries and scored a touchdown. Rockets’ quarterback Carter Bradley was 17-of-27 for 213 yards. Devin Maddox had nine receptions for 135 yards.

The Fighting Irish (2-0) will need to make improvements before hosting in-state rival Purdue (2-0) Saturday afternoon at Notre Dame Stadium. The Boilermakers shut out Connecticut 49-0 Saturday.