The recurring theme for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-7) this season reared it’s ugly face again in heartbreaking fashion.
A 17-0 lead early in the second quarter for Notre Dame slowly melted away as the Virginia Tech Hokies (8-3) earned a victory in South Bend over the Irish in comeback fashion 34-31.
The 17-point lead was displayed again after an 18-yard touchdown pass from Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer to receiver Miles Boykin to give Notre Dame a 24-7 lead with six minutes remaining in the third quarter. However, that recurring theme for Notre Dame has been backbreaking inconsistency and that is what showed up once again for Notre Dame.
Hokies quarterback Jerod Evans was 22-of-29 for 267 yards and a couple of touchdowns with an interception. It wasn’t just the play on the field for Evans but it was the attitude of the quarterback as well that allowed the Hokies to gradually chip away at a Notre Dame lead. On the day, Evans and the offense finished with 419 total yards of offense.
Near the end of the third quarter, Irish running back Josh Adams cruised to a 67-yard touchdown run that seemed to snatch the momentum from the Hokies and give the Irish a 31-21 lead.
Yet, the Hokies stayed focused, largely in-part to their first-year head coach Justin Fuente. The Hokies reeled off 13 unanswered points in the final stanza of the contest which included a 7-yard touchdown pass from Evans to tight end Bucky Hodges to tie the game at 31 apiece and kicker Joey Slye connecting on a 20-yard field goal to give the Hokies their first lead of the day at 34-31 with less than four minutes remaining in the game.
A Notre Dame offense that found ways to move the ball in the first half, could not in the second half. Kizer finished the game with 16-of-33 for 235 yards and two touchdowns. The offense totaled 449 yards of offense, the eighth time this season in 11 games of cracking over 400 offensive yards. In a second half where Kizer was limited to just 36 passing yards, the future 1st round quarterback couldn’t get the necessary plays from his defense when the offense needed the most.
The first ever meeting between the two establishments will forever be a fond memory for Fuente but the loss for the Irish clinched just their 14th losing season in 128 seasons and their first losing season since 2007.