Notre Dame tops South Carolina 45-38 to cap of the 2022 season

NOW: Notre Dame tops South Carolina 45-38 to cap of the 2022 season

JACKSONVILLE, Fl – Notre Dame claims the Gator Bowl with a close win over South Carolina.

It was a rough start for the Irish, giving up a touchdown to the Gamecocks on their first drive.

Shortly after Buchner’s first touchdown since week two, the QB still had some dust to brush off, giving up a pick six, ending the first quarter trailing 10-24.

“Yeah, the interceptions were tough. That goes along with rust and goes along with making mistakes,” said Buchner.

The mistakes didn’t fade away but Buchner starting the second quarter with a one play drive, finding Logan Diggs for a 75-yard touchdown, trimming the deficit 17-24.

“As soon as I got out in my release and I saw the end spike, I knew it was good. I have trust in Tyler he's going to put it where it needs to be and at that point, I have to trust myself and trust my speed to capitalize, and I did, and it's a blessing. I mean, I love Tyler and I feel like he went out there today and showed that he is TB12,” Diggs added.

Buchner certainly had some highs and lows, much of it coming in the second half.

After Buchner’s second rushing touchdown, the sophomore threw two more interceptions.

His third one being returned for a 100-yard pick six by O’Donnell Fortune.

Not only tying the game at 38 with 7 minutes remaining in the game, but also setting a record for the longest interception return in gator bowl history.

“The game we played was great. We won the game, and I couldn't be happier, but for me personally, I didn't play to the standard I wanted to play. I think I accounted for two extra touchdowns that I didn't mean to account for. You know, that's not the standard I hold myself to,” Buchner mentioned.

Luckily for the Irish, one month of bowl game prep came in handy.

After marching down the field, the offense capped of a 12-play drive finding tight end Mitchell Evans wide open, giving the Irish a 45-38 lead and win to give Freeman his first bowl game win as Head Coach.

“Yeah, that was meant for Mitch, and it unfolded beautifully,” Freeman said.

“Yeah, it was one of the plays we've had dialed up all week in bowl prep.

It was a perfect -- it was a great call by coach Rees,” Buchner added.

“Man, what a great feeling. As I told these guys in the locker room, the opportunity to finish as a champion, there's no greater feeling, and I'm so proud of the way they continued to battle today, which is a great representation of what they've done all season long,” Freeman mentioned.

“I told them they'll be the example we use for a long time because this is what real life is about, the ability to respond to some of those situations that happened to you. I'm extremely proud of this team, the leaders, the seniors, and to send that group off the right way, it's very pleasing,” Freeman added.

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