Last-minute touchdown lifts Notre Dame over Virginia Tech
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – In their first chance to put the Michigan blowout behind them, the Irish needed some late heroics to outlast Virginia Tech on Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.
They got those heroics from quarterback Ian Book, who had an up-and-down performance with two passing touchdowns and two interceptions, but ultimately led an 18-play game-winning drive capped by his rushing score to top the Hokies 21-20 in the final minute.
“You dream about nights like this," Book said after the game. "That’s why you play college football and that’s why you come to Notre Dame. A win’s a win. We’re extremely proud of winning tonight and that’s what matters.”
Notre Dame, now 6-2 on the season, gets back in the win column after a week full of outside noise. Both Book and head coach Brian Kelly found themselves at the center of the criticism following the loss in Ann Arbor.
“You come to Notre Dame and play quarterback, they’re going to love you when you win and hate you when you lose," Book said. "But that’s part of growing up and being mature. I was just focused on the team and extremely confident in the guys”
“I’m proud of him. I couldn’t be more happy for those guys because they had to do it today. They weren’t going to get help from anybody. Anybody. They found a way to win.”
That's exactly why the Irish felt so good about the victory.
Though a marked improvement from a week ago, there was still plenty for Notre Dame to fight through.
Just before halftime as the Irish looked to take a two-touchdown lead, a fumble at the goalline was returned 98 yards the other way, tying the game at 14-14 and forcing the Irish to regroup.
The defense stood tall, though, allowing only two field goals in the second half and coming up with a necessary stop to keep it within one possession before Notre Dame's game-winning drive.
“You might falter a little bit, but how you come back is really what shows who you really are," said cornerback Troy Pride. "That's what we showed today. Adversity hit, and everything could have went wrong. We could have let it slip, but that’s not the team we have here.”
Notre Dame now hits the road for a primetime game against Duke next Saturday.