SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — C.J. Prosise provided the flash for the Fighting Irish with three touchdowns and 198 yards rushing, including a 91-yard TD run that was the longest run in Notre Dame Stadium history, and the defense provided the grit.
A pair of touchdowns for 14th-ranked Georgia Tech from Justin Thomas to Patrick Skov in the final minute, the second coming after a recovered onside kick, brought some drama before No. 8 Notre Dame’s Torii Hunter II recovered a second onside kick to clinch the 30-22 victory Saturday.
“I think our defensive plan was outstanding. I think our team executed it up until maybe the last couple of minutes where we probably lost a little bit of our focus,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “But all in all, just a tremendous performance by our football team.”
Prosise’s long run put the Irish up by 23 points, and he also had scoring runs from 17 yards and 1 yard. He credited the offensive line.
“I can’t thank them enough for how they’re getting me to the second level and getting me to the safeties untouched,” he said.
Georgia Tech entered the game averaging 67 points and 457 yards, but struggled to get much going until time was running out. The Fighting Irish held the Yellow Jackets to 216 yards rushing and 337 yards total offense.
“Clearly we were disappointed with the way we played,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. “You have to give Notre Dame credit. Their kids showed up, played hard.”
The game-breaking TD run by Prosise with 6:58 left was the second-longest by a Notre Dame player. Bob Livingstone had the school record with a 92-yarder at USC in 1947.
Fuller, who has five touchdown catches through three games, became the first Irish player to have three straight 100-yard receiving games to open a season since Tom Gatewood in 1970.
DeShone Kizer was 21-of-30 for 242 yards, though he had a pass intercepted in the end zone by Georgia Tech cornerback D.J. White.
Kizer said he was happy to get his first start behind him after throwing the game-winning touchdown with 12 seconds left a week earlier against Virginia.
“It’s going to help me immensely going into next week and into new atmospheres like Clemson in a couple weeks,” he said.
Kizer looked indecisive at times and threw an interception into the end zone, but played well enough to get the victory, coming up with several big plays. With the score tied at 7, Kizer threw a 10-yard pass to Brown on third down and a 36-yard pass to Fuller on third-and-7, leading to a 17-yard touchdown run by Prosise.
“I thought he threw the deep ball very well, did some really good things in managing the offense for us,” Kelly said. “Cadence was a little off. That’s why we had some false starts.”
Notre Dame is 3-0 for the third time in the past four seasons. Georgia Tech (2-1) fell to 0-11-1 against Notre Dame teams ranked in the top 10.
Kelly had predicted the Irish would need to be efficient on offense because he didn’t believe the Irish defense would shut Georgia Tech down, but he was wrong.
“The biggest thing we’re taking from this game is our attitude,” defensive lineman Isaac Rochell said. “We knew we had to dominate up front, and we did that.”
Thomas said the Irish defense was disruptive.
“I don’t really know what was going on upfront. There wasn’t a lot of room,” he said. “We got tested.”
Notre Dame safety Drue Tranquill injured his right knee. Kelly wasn’t sure of the severity of it, but said he wasn’t optimistic. Tranquill sustained a season-ending injury to his left knee last year. Notre Dame already has lost five players to season-ending injuries.