The Journal Gazette
Sunday, November 24, 2019 1:00 am

Notre Dame 40, Boston College 7

Irish keep cooking at home

Top Eagles for 18th straight win on campus

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

SOUTH BEND – During the summer, Notre Dame does workouts at its home field, running around the stadium while motivational videos play on the scoreboard.

The Irish call those conditioning sessions “Protect Our House” runs. They have done exactly that in recent years, winning 18 straight home games since September 2017. 

The 18th victory in that stretch was Saturday's 40-7 drubbing of Boston College at Notre Dame Stadium, led by Ian Book's 295 total yards and three touchdown passes and Ade Ogundeji's two sacks and forced fumble. The win on Senior Day, in front of an announced crowd of 71,827, completed a second straight perfect home schedule for the Irish.

The win was the fourth straight for this Notre Dame (9-2) team and the third in a row by at least 31 points.

“We're feeling dangerous,” said Book, who has 12 touchdown passes in the last three games. “The guys are doing great. We talk about winning in November, protecting our house, we're doing that right now. 

“This team's really confident right now, we're rolling, we're hitting on all cylinders.”

The game was tight early and Boston College (5-6) took a 7-6 lead when a 40-yard pass over the top from quarterback Dennis Grosel to Kobay White set up the Eagles' only score.

Notre Dame's offense bounced back with a 15-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that culminated in a 6-yard slant pass from Ian Book to Chase Claypool for the go-ahead score.

The Irish added a field goal before the half and then exploded in the third quarter, putting together three scoring drives to seal the victory. The play that put the game away was an end-around handoff to redshirt freshman Braden Lenzy, who got to the edge and broke one tackle on his way to a 61-yard touchdown that made it 33-7 late in the third quarter.

The play was set up by a strong Chris Finke punt return to the 39-yard line. Lenzy, who did not have any other touches in the game, said he knew he might get the ball when he saw the return.

“Coach (Chip) Long, he's very meticulous and he wanted the right scenario,” Lenzy said of the Irish offensive coordinator. “He wanted to wait for when we were (near) midfield and then come right out with the (end-around).

“When I saw the spot, I just looked at him and he was looking at me and it was go time.”

Notre Dame's defense did its job, pitching a second-half shutout and helping the Irish outgain the Eagles 501-191 for the game. Ogundeji, a senior who did not have a sack all season entering Saturday, had a career day, turning in three tackles for loss.

True freshman Kyle Hamilton added his fourth interception of the season to set up a fourth quarter touchdown pass from Book to Cole Kmet, while Ogundeji's fellow senior Khalid Kareem forced his third fumble in two games.

“Just so pleased for our seniors,” coach Brian Kelly said. “This class didn't start off their career the way they wanted it (a 4-8 2016 season), but they sure have finished it in incredible fashion. 

“To now have 30 regular-season wins over the last three years, undefeated at home the last two years, those are things that have not been done in decades (at Notre Dame), so a pretty special class.”

There were 30 seniors and graduate students recognized before the game during the Senior Day festivities. Book was among them, though he has one year of eligibility remaining. When asked if he would be back next season, the quarterback gave a concise, though unrevealing, answer:

“We'll see.”

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